Our alumni success story.
Students come to college to learn how to be the architects of their lives. A Denison education expands our students’ knowledge, opens their horizons, and tests and refines their aspirations. We unlock our students’ potential and give them the skills, values, habits, networks, and experiences needed to launch into successful lives.
After 6 Months
Within six months of graduation, 94% of the most recent graduating class were employed, in graduate school completing post-graduate service (Teach for America, Fulbright, Peace Corps, AmeriCorps, Lutheran Volunteer Corps, and City Year). These charts illustrate the outcomes for students in the three most recent graduating classes. Note that the data are based on especially strong reporting rates, making this a very strong representation of the early success of Denison alumni.
Denison students’ acceptance rates into law and medical school are consistently better than the national average. (Percentage of applicants accepted, compared to the national average.)
A Denison education prepares students to compete for highly selective and prestigious international and national fellowships. These awards, including Fulbright U.S. Student Program awards, Gilman (for study abroad), Truman, Goldwater, and National Science Foundation scholarships, provide opportunities for Denison students and graduates to study and work abroad. The Lisska Center for Scholarly Engagement supports students in their applications for these awards.
Since 2012-13, Denison students and alumni have received 43 Fulbright U.S. Student Program awards, 23 National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowships, 17 Critical Language Scholarships, 5 DAAD Research Internships in Science and Engineering (RISE) in Germany, 6 Boren Scholarships/Fellowships for language study abroad, and 2 Beinecke Fellowship for graduate study.
Other prestigious awards won by Denison students include the Truman Scholarship, the Beinecke Scholarship, the Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship, the Boren Scholarship for International Study, the Critical Language Scholarship, National Science Foundation (NSF), Graduate Research Fellowships Program (GRFP), scholarships from the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), Humanity in Action, and the Udall Scholarship, as well as many other fellowships.
Since 2008, Denison has been a leader among small colleges producing the greatest numbers of Peace Corps Volunteers.
In addition, Denison graduates win prestigious and highly competitive positions with Teach For America, and consistently place at the top of our peer group in national rankings.
After 5 Years
What impact does a Denison degree have from the perspective of alumni five years after graduation? This survey highlights the current professional status for alumni five years after graduation and all the ways in which the Denison experience positioned alumni to lead successful lives—personally, professionally, and civically—after college.
At the five-year mark since commencement, nearly all alumni (99%) are currently employed or in graduate school. Alumni indicating “other” typically referred to being in a period of professional transition, articulating upcoming plans for graduate school or forthcoming entrepreneurial or artistic endeavors.
Using survey responses and professional profiles (LinkedIn), data on current status are based on an 80% knowledge rate for the members of the Class of 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, and 2014.
Since graduating from Denison, 57% of alumni went on to pursue an advanced degree.
Source: Five-Year Out Alumni Survey (Class of 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014)
Response Rate: 42%
Types of Advanced Degrees Pursued By Alumni (of those Pursuing Advanced Degree)
Note: Master’s includes various types of Master’s Degrees including MA, MS, MPH, M.Arch, M.Div., M.Ed, MPP, MSW, etc. MD category also includes DO, DMD, DPT, DVM, and OD.
90% of alumni report Denison prepared them very well for graduate school.
86% of alumni report Denison prepared them very well for interpersonal relationships.
70% of alumni report Denison prepared them very well for civic engagement.
- 75% - Spent time volunteering/serving
- 67% - Been involved with your local community
- 64% - Led a group of people to accomplish a goal
- 31% - Served on a board or committee
- 11% - Participated in campaign work (for candidate/issue)
Reflecting back on their time at Denison, 93% of alumni report having close relationships with faculty and staff and 50% report having a research experience with a faculty member.
Most alumni report that these experiences were critically important to their post-Denison success.
The majority of alumni report that their co-curricular involvement (those who participated in internships, off-campus study programs, student organizations, athletics, and/or leadership positions) significantly impacted their post-collegiate success.
Our alumni overwhelmingly report that Denison significantly contributed to their ability to…
- 96% - Think critically and analytically
- 95% - Write clearly and effectively
- 89% - Work effectively in teams
- 91% - Speak clearly and effectively
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.
“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.”
“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.”
“My time at [Denison] gave me the reading and analytical skills that have made me a much more mindful consumer of news than I was before I went to college. Also, while at Denison I spent a lot of time being involved with community issues. If there were rallies on campus or big campus events or just little nooks and crannies of Denison culture, I wanted to experience them. I have taken that skill and applied it to my life afterwards, and it has paid off handsomely in community engagement.”
“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).”
“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.”
“Who I am as a person today is tied, in no small part, to my time at Denison. My core values— justice, social responsibility, and a pursuit of knowledge— were all cultivated at Denison, and were similarly valued by my fellow Denisonians. The conversations I had at Denison instilled within me a sense of empathy that acknowledges the common humanity of individuals, which has been invaluable in divisive social climates.
The wealth of resources provided by Denison ensures that students are able to experience an extraordinary degree of personal, educational, and social growth. The kind of mentorship Denison offers is unparalleled, as is the caliber of its educators; I would not be pursuing my current educational goals if it weren’t for the deep admiration I have for my professors and advisors, as well as the encouragement they provided.
The myriad of available options enables a “choose your own adventure” path of development, creating a diversity of thought, even within the same socio-political spheres. At Denison I had difficult, but necessary conversations about social divisions, economic differences, and mental health. However, I could still tap into a strong support system of peers and mentors, which empowered me to draw personal boundaries, acknowledge my limitations, and seek help, when needed.”
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.
“The relationships I built at Denison and the love for the place will never leave me. I was well-prepared academically, of course; but the feeling of having so many people together, and being constantly encouraged to pursue and question… I can’t explain myself properly, except to say this: not a week goes by where I don’t find myself homesick for it.”
Starting with your first year on campus, and continuing five years after graduation, you’ll learn to combine your academic knowledge, values, and habits with the career-oriented skills, networks and experiences you need to be the architect of your own life.
And you’ll build the foundation of all of this, as you work with the Knowlton Center team, faculty, coaches and staff across Denison to help answer three pivotal questions:
- What kind of life do I want to lead?
- How do careers and professions fit into those lives?
- How do I use my time in college to develop the skills, values, habits, experiences and networks to get started?
The Knowlton Center for Career Exploration
You can tap Knowlton Center resources for career exploration over the entire four years of your time at Denison, and for five years after graduation.
Denison Connecting adds the power of almost 40,000 alumni and friends to your career network, getting together at events around the world to network and learn from fellow alumni and industry experts.
Featuring upcoming events and other opportunities for Denison alumni, parents, friends, students and faculty/staff to connect.
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: College Senior Survey 2018; National Survey of Student Engagement 2017; EBI Resident Survey 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.
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.