The Denison experience is unlike any other. We prepare our students for lives of professional, personal, and civic success. Data from our 2014 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 2013 or 2014.
Denison students are highly engaged in the co-curriculum, and 75% 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 2014; EBI Resident Survey 2014)
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My Experience at Denison...
My Denison education has been indispensable in my post-grad professional life. On a very technical level, I gained skills through my Communication and English courses that help me on a day-to-day basis. I learned to collaborate with others, build relationships, write effectively, manage multiple projects at once and pay close attention to detail. All of these things, I’ve found, are valued in the Communications field. On a broader level, though, Denison helped me develop a more confident and self-asserting presence in the workplace. During one of my first employee reviews, my supervisor told me she was impressed with my willingness to voice my opinion and challenge our organizational conventions. I have no doubt that those skills were fostered in the Denison classroom, where debate and reflection are encouraged and expected.
I met some of my best friends during my time on The Hill. I met people who share my values and interests, and I’m incredibly grateful to Denison for providing the stage for these relationships to grow. However, I think an even bigger advantage Denison gave me was to introduce me to people with different backgrounds, values, opinions and interests. These relationships expanded my horizons and have helped me build more diverse and strong-rooted connections post-graduation.
Denison gives its students every opportunity to explore and engage with issues that matter personally to them. With Denison’s help (shout-out to the Center for Career Exploration), I was lucky enough to secure a Marketing internship with Make-A-Wish during my junior year of college. In four short months, I truly fell in love with the mission of the organization and began to realize that my Denison skills – writing, creative problem solving, collaboration, communication, etc. – could directly impact and improve the lives of others. Now, I get to use my Denison education every day to make a difference for kids and families locally and across the country.
“I believe my Denison experience has definitely prepared me well for my professional journey, especially in three aspects:
1. Never just say “I don't know.” Say “I'll look into it” instead. In other words, attitude matters. In my first official job review, my boss told me that my attitude is my biggest asset. When tasked with something new or daunting, I said, “I don't know how to do it, but I'll look into it.” My employer was a young entrepreneurial company. We were just launching a new open source CRM system. Nobody wanted or had the time to study the 600-page admin manual. So I said, “I'll look into it”, and I finished reading the whole manual in a week and started practicing what I learned. When the company was looking to streamline our core business process, I built a new module with our CRM so that two teams can connect with each other seamlessly. I never knew I'd become an IT guy. It's my research experience at Denison that makes me more prepared to take on new challenges. Teaching myself new things from scratch is not daunting to me, because that's how I learned when doing research or taking research classes at Denison. It's just different subjects in professional life.
2. Work with people. I worked a lot and did a lot of extracurricular activities at Denison, most of which involved interacting with other people. I worked in groups with other students in some classes, with professors and peer researchers to complete semester-long research projects, and with fellow RAs and HRs when I was on the Residential Education staff. I learned a good team is so much more than the sum of all the individuals in it. So when I started my professional life, it's very comfortable for me to work with other people: co-workers, bosses, clients, or external contractors. This makes me very effective in leveraging bigger projects. Working well with people is very important because projects at work take more than one individual to complete. You have to work with other people to get it done. If you enjoy that and know how to make people work better as a team, then you are in a very good place. There are self-help books that teach you how to do better teamwork, but it's nowhere near the experiences I've had from the four years at Denison.
3. Follow your heart. After working full time for less than a year, I was offered partnership by my employer but decided to quit my job instead to start my own company. I saw a need and envisioned a better solution for communication and collaboration between companies engaging in international trade. They need something better than email to orchestrate the complicated processes to get their products across the ocean and borders. I think I came up with one such tool that could do just that. Staying longer with my previous company wouldn’t necessarily help me in getting that tool built and tested, so I decided to quit my job and return to China to give it a try. I call this following my heart. When I was at Denison, I picked most of my classes following my heart; applied for jobs and clubs that interested me the most, and talked with great people who followed their heart and never regretted it. Those experiences turned out to be very influential in the way I think, behave, and treat people. So when I faced a tough decision, the Denison experience made the decision-making process much easier. So I followed my heart. In that sense, my Denison education supported my professional effectiveness.”
“As a Denison student, I was expected to think critically, write cohesively, grapple with some complex problems, and meet tight deadlines in and outside of the classroom. Because of those rigorous academic standards and training, I am now able to thrive in a very fast-paced and deadline driven environment. In addition, my Denison education has taught me how to apply acquired knowledge and analytical skills to new situations and career opportunities and that has been a great benefit to both my personal and professional life.”
“A Denison education is truly invaluable. It may sound like a cliché MasterCard tagline, but I do believe that it's impossible to measure the many ways that Denison has shaped my life. I attribute my success in graduate school and in my first professional position to the great instruction and opportunities in the classroom. Denison helped me meet people from very different backgrounds, and to appreciate difference. It helped me take a myriad of interests and find a common theme to connect them all. Denison challenged me to be comfortable with ambiguity and complexity in situations lacking clear answers. Furthermore, it taught me that most situations, in fact, do not have one clear truth. My education helped me challenge the status quo, feel empowered to impact the larger community, and take risks.”
“Innovation occurs at the intersection of multidisciplinary minds. Denison is an environment that fosters these interactions and fuels a broader outlook to solving global issues.”
“I don't know where I would be today without having spent 4 years at Denison. I credit Denison with helping me to mature, helping me to see the world differently, and above all helping me to work with all sorts of different people and cultures. No matter what our career, we have to do these things in our jobs every day, and I have noticed that fellow Denison grads and myself seem ahead of graduates of other universities in terms of our work ethic, vision, and ability to think outside the box and be open to new ideas and cultures. If I could do it all over again, I would absolutely choose Denison. 100%.
Denison educates the whole person in a very rigorous way. Classroom experiences are of the utmost quality and depth, but the out of classroom experience is also meaningful and dedicated. Whether you were in Greek life, or did community service, or were an athlete (or maybe all 3), Denison provided activities that enriched and supported the type of student you were in the classroom. Everyone left Denison more confident, more prepared, and more thoughtful than when we entered. When I graduated, the name Denison brought a good reputation and potential employers (even on the West Coast) knew that a Denison graduate had a serious, rigorous education.”
I work where I do, in the way that I do, because of my experience at Denison.
I work at an interfaith organization because it allows me to live out my personal values – the values that Denison leadership initiatives pushed me to name, develop and put in to action. I was hired at this organization in large part because of the experiences I had at Denison, in and out of the classroom. A Denison internship in Washington, DC and a community service program showed my employer that I had a track record of success. Four years of professors helping me articulate complex ideas in straightforward ways assured the Hiring Manager that I could communicate with sophistication. Campus dialogue initiatives prepared me to build solid relationships, giving my organization confidence that I could work closely and effectively with colleagues and inspire our organization's supporters.
At Denison I had the privilege of forming the closest friendships of my life with incredible peers. With my friends, I learned how to support others and live in a community. I also learned how to be authentic and vulnerable: how to be me. Is my life different because of the transformative friendships I developed at Denson – in pre-orientation trips and 8am classes, in campus dorms and homestays abroad, and in so many other places? Yes, every minute of it. I simply couldn't be more grateful. Looking forward, I am excited to maintain these important friendships while building new ones, wherever I may be in the world.
The great focus of my time at Denison was about community – how we build it (or break it), how we strengthen it (or weaken it), how we can make decisions together to solve shared problems (or face the implications of our inability to do so). I learned about community in courses and in readings – several books from Denison sit on my desk at work – but also by living it. The triumphs and struggles of participating in a diverse community on campus shape how I have chosen to engage my neighbors now. In addition, my experience at Denison motivates my current engagement with the social justice issues of our time, and my skills and experiences set me up to make a difference.
My civic commitment is not separate from my personal and professional lives – it grows out of them, and shapes them in return. One more connection between my professional, personal and civic lives: I cultivated them at Denison.
“A Denison education is an extreme “best value”: never could I have expected to form such long-lasting and deep relationships, to have life-changing conversations with brilliant professors, to take on a real-life leadership position managing 100 volunteers (which would get me not just one but two jobs post-graduation), or to be pushed so far out of my comfort zone that I don't even recognize myself at the end.”
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.