The Denison experience is unlike any other. We prepare our students for lives of professional, personal, and civic success. Data from our 2017 administration of the National Survey of Student Engagement reveal ways in which the Denison curricular and co-curricular experience prepares students for successful lives after college.
Denison provides an intellectually rigorous curriculum. Denison seniors were significantly more likely to report that their coursework emphasized higher-order thinking than seniors at similar institutions, which are represented here as the Carnegie classification. Specifically, Denison students were more likely to report:
A Denison education is not about rote memorization of facts. In fact, Denison students are significantly more likely than students at similar institutions (represented here as Carnegie) to report that their coursework prompts reflective and integrative learning. Specifically, Denison seniors were significantly more likely to report having:
Note: These graphs compare Denison data to “Carnegie” and “National.” As classified by the Carnegie Commission on Higher Education, Denison’s Carnegie Classification is Baccalaureate Colleges—Arts & Sciences, thus comparing Denison to a group of similar institutions, mostly comprised of small, private colleges. “National” represents the data from all 983 institutions participating in the National Survey of Student Engagement in 2017.
Denison students are highly engaged in the co-curriculum, and 80% of Denison seniors report having held a formal leadership role in a student organization, which is significantly higher than students at similar institutions.
The Denison curriculum places a high emphasis on students’ ability to write well. Denison students reported writing significantly more than students at peer institutions (measured in number of pages).
Denison professors are scholars in their fields but also are masters in the crafts of teaching and advising. Denison seniors rated the quality of their interactions with their faculty advisors significantly higher than students at other Carnegie institutions.
Denison is a pluralistic community. The Denison experience provides opportunity to dialogue and learn from others. Denison students report dialoguing with others who are different than them (in terms of race, economic background, and political views) significantly more often than students at similar institutions.
Denison students actively engage in the opportunities offered by Denison. In comparison to seniors at Carnegie institutions, Denison seniors were significantly more likely to have conducted research with faculty, completed an internship or field experience, or studied abroad.
In comparison to seniors at other Carnegie institutions, Denison students were significantly more likely to say that their college experience contributed to knowledge, skills and personal development in: writing clearly and effectively, speaking clearly and effectively, and thinking critically and analytically.
Students indicated how their experience at Denison has contributed to skills, knowledge and personal development in ways that connect to our core student learning outcomes. (Sources: National Survey of Student Engagement 2017; EBI Resident Survey 2014)
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My Experience at Denison...
“Having the opportunity to participate in a wide variety of campus organizations provided me with a diverse set of experiences that helped prepare me for life after college. In addition, I would not have been able to undertake a French major—including a semester abroad—while still completing all of the pre-med requirements, without the advice and support of the staff and faculty at Denison.”
“My Denison education taught me how to think analytically and critically. It helped me hone my writing skills, both in writing long research papers but also shorter, more policy memo-like papers. These skills have been incredibly helpful as I spent three years working in various think tanks in DC—first at the Pew Charitable Trusts and then two years at the Brookings Institution. They have also served me well so far in my graduate program at the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton, where I work on public policy and write a lot of memos. In addition to the critical thinking and writing skills I honed at Denison, I benefited from the small class size. I always felt that I was able to, and encouraged to, share my opinion in class. While I still get nervous speaking in front of a group of people in an office environment, my experience at Denison taught me that my opinions matter, especially when I can share them thoughtfully and analytically.”
“I have greatly benefited from the connections I made at Denison. I developed a great relationship with my advisor, and he has helped me hone in on what I want to do. I have stayed in touch since I graduated and we have gotten dinner once a year for the last three years when he has been in DC. These are the types of connections that would not be possible at other schools.”
“My experience in economics and political science at Denison helped lead me to a summer internship in DC between my junior and senior years of college. I loved DC so much that I knew I wanted to be back after graduation. With the skills I honed at Denison and recommendations from fantastic professors, I was able to secure a competitive one-year fellowship at the Pew Charitable Trusts. I actively worked on fiscal and economic policy issues and found that I was interested in this type of policy work. I then moved to the Brookings Institution and spent two years working on various aspects of health policy. When I realized I needed the data skills to advance in my career, I applied to graduate school. I knew from my educational and career experience that I wanted to go into public policy so applied to the Master in Public Affairs program at Princeton. I believe that my commitment to public service, starting with Denison and fostered throughout my career, helped get me into such a prestigious school. After graduation, I hope to continue this public service in the federal government.”
Although I graduated in Spring 2015, I feel that my experiences at Denison are still enacting on my life as a graduate student, and as an adult-in-training. My rigorous academic responsibilities as an undergraduate equipped me with the writing, communication, and research skills that help me excel in my graduate school classes. Organizing my personal planner to complete assignments, feeling comfortable to reach out to professors to ask questions about class, and working with diverse groups of people on projects, are some of the many tools that I acquired as a former Denison student that I apply to my current graduate career. This skill set was especially put to the test this summer. I served as a public service intern at the Mayor of Chicago's Federal Affairs Office in Washington D.C., where I was responsible for completing project deadlines, researching partnerships for the city, and managing grant opportunities. Despite that I am approaching the end of my Recent Student Trustee position (at Denison), and my graduate school career, Denison will remain at the epicenter of my adult life. I know that my undergraduate experiences and being a Denisonian will continue to light the way in an unknown, adult world.
Coming to Denison I was undecided about what career path I wanted to pursue after college. The liberal arts experience allowed me to gain versatile experience that is transferable throughout many fields. Gaining valuable writing skills, presentation of research, and participation in various clubs and organizations prepared me to grow in the corporate world. My Denison connections and education ultimately helped me get a job with Columbus' biggest employer, Nationwide Insurance. My role as a Claims Analyst has allowed me to travel to other states and assess catastrophic losses after weather disasters and while in Columbus, I get to use the skills I obtained in my economics courses and analyze claims data as well as brainstorm with other associates on how we can improve our processes. Thanks to all my extracurricular involvement and collaborations with organizations on campus during my time at Denison, I am able to bring these skills to the conference room and contribute to Nationwide's growth and development.
“I have begun to settle into my role as an Assistant Hall Director and graduate student at The Ohio State University, and I already stand apart from peers and colleagues. I couldn’t say this without having had the experiences that I did while at Denison. I owe a huge part of my successes, and my opportunities to the faculty, staff, and students at Denison. From day one, I was supported, valued, given a voice, and allowed to implement change in policies and procedures at the school alongside my peers, and the administration at Denison. Those opportunities not only are the reason I stand apart but haven given the tools and knowledge that has helped me transition into a young professional in the field of Higher Education and Student Affairs. In short, I have learned a lot from being a student at Denison. I also benefited from being a varsity athlete at Denison. Being a member of Men’s Swimming and Diving all four years taught me invaluable lessons like how to have integrity, grit, and a growth mindset in all aspects of my life. Those lessons have already come to play in my new role at OSU. Without Denison, I wouldn’t be where I am today.”
“My Denison education has allowed me to excel in my first job as I brought a valuable set of liberal arts skills to my career. The most tangible aspects of my Denison education that have been effective in my work-life are my abilities to problem solve, conduct research, write professionally, and express myself in a clear and concise manner. My Denison education provided me the space and opportunities to develop my professional skills in a variety of different settings, which has set me apart from my peers in the workplace.”
“My time at Denison allowed me to better understand who I am as a person and what I need to do to take care of myself (mentally, physically, emotionally, etc.). By the time I left Denison I better understood what it meant to care for myself and the tactical actions I needed to take to support my health and well-being. I attribute a large portion of this to the resources that were available to me through [the Whisler Center for Student Wellness]. Additionally, Denison provided me a safe space to explore who I am and what I am passionate about. This has allowed me to develop interests in, and connections to, similar communities outside of Denison. The best example of this is the fact that I grew into myself as a member of the LGBT community through my involvement in Outlook, and I have since established myself as a member of LGBT-related groups in both my work-life and community.”
“I am engaged with issues of both my local community and more global concerns. I intentionally sought out a smaller, more passionate neighborhood that would provide me an opportunity to more closely interact with my community. I am involved through service as well as social activities in my local community and within the city on the whole. I have become MORE engaged in global concerns since I left Denison… I became the most engaged with local and global issues through my academics at Denison. I was able to craft a curriculum for myself that really let me explore the things I was the most interested in. Denison also gave me the skills and opportunities to develop myself as a citizen, allowing me to understand my responsibilities and passion. Through this I have become a more active citizen and have taken an interest in advocating for the things I feel are most important to me in my world (whether that is on a micro or macro scale).”
“My training in math and physics at Denison (including summer research opportunities) prepared me well to handle graduate coursework and research. The liberal arts curriculum at Denison also strengthened my interpersonal skills. And in academia, relational skills are just as important as research skills.”
“Attending Denison University has been one of the best decisions I have made. At a most fundamental level, Denison has prepared me for the academic rigors of medical school. Beyond memorizing the facts, my professors taught me to actively engage and be critical of the material and to extrapolate information to real-life situations. These skills have allowed me to not only memorize the large content presented in medical school but also understand clinical implications to better serve my future patients. Second, Denison has increased my awareness of cultures and identities other than my own. I had the opportunity to experience other cultures, religious and political beliefs, and biases. These experiences along with the emphasis on community service at Denison have allowed me to be more civically engaged in my community during medical school and help advocate for medically-underserved people. Third, through classroom discussions, on-campus employment, and great mentorship from faculty and staff, I observed and was asked to display professionalism. Growing in these skills has been very beneficial as a medical student because I am always wearing the “white coat,” whether in the classroom, clinics, or community. And last, Denison emphasizes building relationships like no other institution, which has allowed me to better connect with my peers and be conscious of engaging patients as human beings rather than as duties of the job. Overall, the relationships and skills I gained from attending Denison have benefited me in so many ways and will continue with me the rest of my life.”
We encourage students to explore and to take full advantage of the liberal arts. The very core of the liberal arts is that we prepare students to be successful in whatever profession they choose to pursue by providing them with skills in critical thinking, effective written and oral communication, leadership and civic engagement, and individual agency. Through these core outcomes, we prepare students to live and lead in a complex, global society.