College Cousins: Denison and Trinity

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For some, the quintessential college experience is characterized by a quality education gained in a special kind of atmosphere – the kind typified by Denison University and Trinity College. These two small liberal arts colleges offer four-year collegiate experiences on campuses that are traditional in appearance but brimming with energy and diversity.

Trinity’s beautiful 100-acre campus, with its striking Gothic architecture and expanses of green space, is located in Hartford, Connecticut, an urban, culturally diverse state capital. The juxtaposition gives students the best of both worlds: a separate campus atmosphere with a bustling city just outside its gates. In fact, it’s that urban sensibility that inspired the school’s Center for Urban and Global Studies, which further enriches student life and encourages a global outlook on current issues. Trinity’s current student body is drawn from 41 states and 70 countries, adding to the rich diversity on campus.

Academically, Trinity offers an impressive curriculum. Its 2,100 students can select from 900 courses in 41 majors. To graduate, students must meet distribution requirements, thereby ensuring that they receive a true liberal arts education. Those who want to enrich their program and augment their classroom instruction have opportunities to engage in student research programs, sign up for one of many academic internships that are available, or take advantage of one of Trinity’s study away programs. 

Denison, founded in 1831 in Granville, Ohio, also provides a liberal arts education that is focused not on size but on educating the individual. Although Granville is a much smaller town than Hartford, the school’s proximity to Ohio’s state capital of Columbus provides similar opportunities for off-campus life. And like Trinity, Denison boasts a stunning campus: in fact, the foundation of Denison’s campus design was created by the famed architectural landscape firm of Frederick Law Olmsted Sons, noted for designing New York’s Central Park in addition to the Stanford and Wellesley campuses. 

Denison’s 2,300 students hail from 50 states and 40 countries. In addition to the 54 undergraduate degrees, the school also offers concentrations and coursework in a number of other subject areas. It too ensures that students receive a well-rounded education by requiring its undergrads to complete work in several “competency” courses. Student research opportunities are coordinated through the Lisska Center for Student Engagement, and approximately half of Denison students participate in study abroad programs.

At both schools, a strong emphasis on student involvement is reflected in the many campus clubs, intermural sports, and opportunities for civic engagement. These are colleges that want students to be on the frontlines, not on the sidelines or in the stands.

These are almost storybook schools – beautiful campuses that feature traditional academics, but behind that storybook image you will find 21st century opportunities and campuses vibrating with student life.