Revolutionizing New Student Engagement: Denison University’s Innovative Approach

March 2024 — By BrightCrowd

In the ever-evolving landscape of higher education, institutions are constantly seeking new ways to create meaningful connections with their incoming students. Denison University has emerged as a pioneer in this realm, reshaping the traditional orientation process to build deep connections with students from the moment they are accepted.

At the heart of Denison’s approach is the recognition that each student has a unique story. According to Nathan Graves, Denison’s Associate Dean of Student Support and Director of Orientation & First-Year Experience, understanding these individual narratives is crucial in fostering a sense of belonging and community.

Denison’s strategy is based on cultivating relationships long before students set foot on campus. Key to this effort is learning more about every one of the 600+ incoming students. By leveraging technology platforms like BrightCrowd, Denison has transformed the way it gathers insights into students’ interests, preferences, and needs. Within BrightCrowd’s digital “new student book” incoming freshmen create detailed pages, providing a holistic view of their identities and aspirations. For the incoming class of 2027 last fall, over three-quarters of the class took advantage of the opportunity to create a page in their BrightCrowd book, underscoring its importance in fostering connections and building community.

The wealth of information gathered through BrightCrowd equips the Student Support team and the Dean of Students office with valuable insights to tailor orientation programs and support services to meet the diverse needs of incoming students. From academic interests to extracurricular pursuits, this data enables Denison to create personalized experiences that resonate with each student, enhancing their sense of belonging and engagement from the outset.

Now for the Class of 2028, Denison is taking its personalized engagement to the next level with the introduction of a “reverse student activities fair.” Recognizing that many students are eager to join clubs but hesitant to take the first step, Denison is empowering club leaders to reach out directly to individuals based on their expressed interest. This personalized invitation not only alleviates new student anxiety but also sets the stage for meaningful connections from the outset.

Imagine the impact of receiving a warm welcome to your first club meeting, knowing that someone is eagerly anticipating your arrival. Denison’s innovative approach ensures that every student feels valued and supported as they navigate campus life.

Denison’s commitment to student well-being extends beyond orientation. By prioritizing mental health and wellness, Denison reinforces its dedication to the holistic development of its students. Through ongoing support and engagement initiatives, Denison aims to build lifelong connections that extend well beyond graduation.

As we look to the future of higher education, Denison University offers a compelling vision for student engagement. By embracing technology, fostering meaningful connections, and prioritizing student well-being, Denison is revolutionizing the way students adjust to campus life. We applaud Denison for working to build a community where everyone feels valued, included, and empowered to pursue their passions.

Contact BrightCrowd today to explore how BrightCrowd's digital engagement solutions can help your new students feel more secure and included at your institution.