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 35 Fulbright U.S. Student Program awards, 19 National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowships, 13 Critical Language Scholarships, five DAAD Research Internships in Science and Engineering (RISE) in Germany, five Boren Scholarships/Fellowships for language study abroad, and one 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.
Note: The post-Denison outcomes provided reflect aggregate data for the classes of 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, and 2017 collected within six months of graduation for each class. These data are collected between May and November for the graduating cohort.
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.
I was pleasantly surprised at how easy the transition into my first “real world” job was. The skills I learned as an orientation leader, Admissions Senior Interviewer and chair of the D-Day committee translated seamlessly into my current role in the Campus Leadership Programs department at the American Association of University Women (AAUW). At AAUW, I coordinate three programs that allow college students to use AAUW resources to implement activism and make a change on their campuses. The event coordination, volunteer management and creative marketing skills I learned at Denison gave me the professional experience that qualified me for this position.
The education I received at Denison not only made a profound impact on my ability to write and communicate well, but most importantly, taught me how to think critically. From my first “Introduction to Feminism” class to my senior research project on “The Politics of the N-Word through a White, Privileged Perspective,” my classes helped me understand issues through a global, feminist lens and challenged me to recognize my own privilege and social location. My coursework in Communication and Women’s Studies taught me how to incorporate intersectionality into everything I do, something that has proved invaluable in my work at a women’s advocacy non-profit.
My courses and professors introduced me to theories and ideas that shaped my personal growth as a student, as a writer and as a feminist, but it was my classmates, roommates, teammates and friends who helped me grow the most during my four years on the Hill. After I graduated, I began searching for a community similar to the ones I had at Denison. One of the first things I did when I first moved to DC was join the Women’s Information Network (WIN), a social and professional network for “Pro-Choice, Democratic” women. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the current Chair of that organization is a Denison graduate.
Denison helped me realize how important civic engagement was to my everyday life. Whether it was knocking on doors in Newark to help register people to vote, or planning Denison’s first ever “Equal Pay Day rally,” I sought out ways to engage my community and encourage others to take action. There are many different ways to get involved at Denison – take advantage of the classes, guest speakers and organizations that teach you how to become an active citizen, outspoken advocate and compassionate ally. I feel privileged to be able to continue advocacy work in my career and encourage other Denison students to follow their passions after they graduate.
My liberal arts experience at Denison has really helped me to adjust to law school. Denison’s small classroom sizes and emphasis on student participation prepared me for the classroom demands of law school. Through my years at Denison, I learned how to articulate my thoughts and contribute to meaningful discussion, which eased the anxiety that comes with class participation at times. Moreover, the abundance of leadership opportunities at Denison provided me with the ability to feel comfortable in those types of roles at Moritz. More specifically, my time as a Resident Assistant built the foundation for a lasting commitment to leadership roles at the school that require a lot of responsibility. Not only did my Denison leadership positions make me feel prepared, but they also made my employers and advisors feel as though I am qualified for new responsibilities.
Denison’s emphasis on involvement in civic activities planted a commitment in me to work in furtherance of others and not just myself. With law school comes loads of debt, but making money has never been my end goal upon graduation. After my involvement in Legal Aid Society through Denison Community Association, I knew that I wanted to provide my services to those most in need. This was solidified even more after my time abroad in Santiago, Chile. Thanks to this wonderful opportunity provided by Denison, I learned more about my passions and decided to pursue a career in immigration law. Through connections made at Denison, I currently clerk for an immigration firm in Columbus, helping others follow their dreams in the United States. As an added bonus, I get to put my degree to good use and practice my Spanish every day.
“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.”
When I started at Denison as a freshman in 2010, I had no plans to go into the private sector – frankly, I had no idea where I’d end up. Four years later, I’d had an amazing and formative experience as a student at Denison, and I knew that Nielsen – a leading global market research company – was the right place for me to begin my career journey. It was at Denison that I developed my love of research, and gained very practical real-world experience as a research assistant.
Now that I’m here at Nielsen, I find the habits and mindsets that I picked up at Denison help me every day. Since I don’t come from a business school background, I was nervous that I’d be behind the curve as I started in my new role. It turns out that my experience has been just the opposite. Sure, it took a few weeks to pick up all of the new vocabulary, but market research is, at its heart, all about analysis, drawing out insights, and communicating them clearly and effectively both internally and to clients – all skills that I developed in the classroom and in leadership roles at Denison. Additionally, the adaptable mindset that I developed at Denison comes in handy when I need to learn how to use a new platform, or build a new type of report.
One of Nielsen’s core values is openness. That’s an attitude that I learned very early on at Denison. Now, I find that I listen to new ideas with receptivity, and I don’t turn down an invitation to work on a new project because it seems unrealistic or out of reach. The ability to take risks and to push the boundaries of my comfort zone has made me much more valuable to my team, and will be important factors as I move forward both professionally and personally!
“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.”
This past year I taught the English language to 8th through 12th-grade students in eastern Bulgaria, a challenge for which Denison most certainly helped me prepare. In addition to leading students in speaking and writing exercises, I was also expected to teach about my own “American experience,” an experience significantly shaped by my time at Denison.
My four years at Denison helped me sharpen the intellectual tools and practical skills to appreciate other cultures and global narratives. My Geography classes with Professor Frolking, and courses in my two majors, History and International Studies, piqued my curiosity about how other people live and think. My senior research projects in History and International Studies pushed me to analyze a subject inside and out and consolidate what I had learned into a (not so short) cumulative paper and final presentation to faculty and fellow classmates. Winter break trips to Washington D.C., Atlanta, and Birmingham introduced me to the complexities of education and immigration outside of Ohio and my native Minnesota. I have Denison to thank for introducing me to classmates hailing from Granville, Ohio to Seoul, South Korea. These assorted intellectual and social opportunities that Denison has offered me have ultimately strengthened my planning, writing, speaking, evaluating, and coaching skills which have been key responsibilities as a teacher in a foreign community.
Denison helped me prepare tremendously for the post-graduate chapter of my life by emphasizing the values of life-long learning, embracing and succeeding in uncomfortable situations, and demonstrating compassion regardless of my profession.
“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.”
“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.”
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.