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Denison University

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When I went to Denison, I didn't likeEnglish
When I went to Denison, I didn't like it. I complained about it all the time. But after I graduated, I was able to see what the school did for me and how I benefited from the rigorous academics and excellent teaching.

As a student, I could have been one of the many students on this site who complain about the social aspects of Denison (the annoying sorority girls, the tepid party scene, the close-minded and conservative Ohio town). But here's the thing--those problems exist at almost EVERY college because they are somewhat endemic to college life and American society writ large. I've taught at half a dozen colleges since graduating from Denison, and most of them--even the big public ones--have similar issues. They pay lip-service to diversity. They have apathetic students. The students all fit a certain stereotype. Blah, blah, blah, etc. Yes, this is true of Denison as well. But the difference is that Denison actually has good academics! Trust me, "good academics" are rarer than you might like to think.

At Denison I was surrounded by many people who were smart, and a few who were even intellectually intimidating. I sat in class with Rhodes finalists and future Fulbright Scholars. Again--and I can't stress this enough--this is not the case at all universities. My peers at Denison pushed me to become a better student and a smarter thinker. I learned from people who were not like me and who, because of Denison's generous financial aid packages (which I also received), were from very different social classes, backgrounds, and geographical areas. I received a truly "national" and "outward-looking" education rather than one that is provincial and self-absorbed. Denison doesn't claim to be the center of the universe or the only school in the world where you could get an education. But that's actually one of its strengths: it recognizes that it's just one stop on a student's lifelong trajectory. In some ways, Denison is a victim of its own success. It teaches students to question the value of things ... so students end up questioning the Denison enterprise itself.

Denison has always had problems with race. But again, here's the thing: A LOT of universities have problems with race. Maybe all universities, as racism is still rampant in our society. What I admire now about Denison--and what I didn't really grasp at the time--was how the university actually confronted these issues. It didn't sweep them under the rug. Most universities do not handle racial incidents as transparently and reflexively as Denison does. And many other universities congratulate themselves on their diversity while admitting a student body that is more than 90% white.

But above all, the teaching at Denison was truly top-notch. I learned a lot more there than I would have in my state's flagship (where I later taught). The standards were high, the students were smart, and I had to work hard. So no, Denison's not the most glamorous school in the world, and it isn't perfect. But it is truly a solid school and a good opportunity. And if I had it to do over again, I would choose to be more satisfied with the academic program and less irritated by the people and all the little details. The academic program is what stays with you and shapes your life ... not the social scene.

Alumnus Male -- Class 2000
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BrightBiology
"Overall, it's a sh*thole."
4th Year Male -- Class 2007
Scholastic Success: A-, Perceived Campus Safety: D-
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Denison is a very good school.BrightCommunications
Denison is a very good school. I'm glad I chose this school. During the first weeks, mostly everyone finds their "people." Most people are very friendly, open-minded, and involved. To my surprise, a lot of the students were aware of social issues such as racial/socioeconomic/gender inequality. Most people do tend to stick with what's familiar. (whites hang out with whites, blacks hang out with blacks, and so on.) There are many activities that the multi-cultural groups host that are under-attended because people chose to go to the "sunnies" instead.

Overall, I'm glad that I chose Denison. I found my people, and I'm glad for all of the opportunities that I have and will obtain because of this school.PS - incoming freshman, I recommend you sign up for a pre-orientation. Sometimes it is hard to make friends at just Aug-O alone.

1st Year Female -- Class 2019
Faculty Accessibility: A+, Surrounding City: C-
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