Campus Rating

Hi I’m a dad of an accepted 2025. Have not been able to visit the school, but am curious about the Niche grade of C+ relating to the campus. Other grades seem solid wondering what’s driving a lower campus rating? Thanks

@colin2025 I am also the parent of an accepted 2025. We visited campus in late 2019. Last night our family was looking at Niche ratings on various attributes for some of the colleges my S21 was accepted to and found ourselves surprised by quite a few of Niche’s grades. As a result, we dug in more to the grading criteria (to the extent that Niche makes it known…they are not completely transparent), and, as a result and for our purposes, will not be paying much attention to Niche grades.

For the Campus grade that you’ve asked about, Niche says “Based on quality of housing, food services, student reviews, and additional factors.” I don’t know what “additional factors” are and how much influence they have. But I can see how they grade housing and food services - both include cost as part of the grade. While I consider the cost of attendance to be an important factor for us, I’d prefer to weigh the cost of the school to our family as a whole (knowing what we’ll pay for tuition/room/board all together in a given year) rather than include the specific cost of the housing factored into the housing grade and the cost of the meal plan factored into the food services grade (both of which are part of the Campus grade). You may feel differently, but it helps to know that that info is being included in the algorithm. But essentially, Niche is combining “other factors,” the dorms grade and the food grade, both of which include cost (and include student reviews) and combining those into that campus grade. They then force a distribution curve on their ratings so that 20% of schools get an A- or above, 50% of schools get a B or above, etc.

From our one tour, I’d say we liked the campus just fine. It’s up on a hill so if you need some of the campus facilities (particularly Performing Arts) down below in Granville, you’d be getting a workout. The town with its coffee shop and restaurants is also down the hill, but my son wasn’t bothered by the hill and appreciated having the town there. A lot of the campus was very nice (while other parts seemed more tired - some of the housing on the north quad - Schaff and Sunset as examples). This map is interactive so that you can click and see photos of various spots on campus: Campus Map | Denison University

@Midwestmomofboys @Erin_s_Dad @tkoparent can probably give more info than I can since I’ve only been there once. Good luck figuring this out - it’s tough this year without visits. S21 has so far only seen 2 schools.

Yeah, I have similar concerns about the campus too. Especially the food and freshman dorm.

I’ve always found that Niche ranking very puzzling, but @nichols51 's research into the methodology is helpful. The campus itself is beautiful. The original layout was done by Frederick Law Olmsted, who designed Central Park in New York, and it really does have that feel. The campus is on the top of a hill. On one side of the slope is the Arts Quad and the village of Granville and on the other is the athletics center. My son lives in a dorm next to the Arts Quad and spends a lot of his time in the athletics center, and it’s very manageable and relatively compact. You’ve probably already seen this video, but just in case: Campus Tour: Denison University Admission - YouTube Granville is a perfect little college town with a New England feel, and the students go up and down the hill into town all the time. There’s a larger town, Newark/Heath, about ten minutes away, with more restaurants and a Target, etc., and Columbus, the capitol, is within a half an hour. So it’s small-town but not at all isolated. As to the dorms and food, Denison has sometimes gotten a bad rap for food and that may factor into the Niche rating, but my son, who is a sophomore, says it’s fine, and he’s not especially easy to please. There are a variety of first year dorms. The largest are typical rowdy first year dorms (or at least they were pre-pandemic). My son chose to live there because he thought it would be a good way to meet lots of people quickly and he was happy with that choice, but there are other options. The upper-class dorms are nice, and all of the seniors are housed in apartments. A number of the dorms are currently being renovated. Denison is a terrific school, and I wouldn’t let this particular ranking discourage you.


This is incredibly helpful information. Thank you. I agree, that grading system is not entirely useful. I only asked about it as it seemed inconsistent with some of what I consider more important factors, like academics, value and professors. We are hoping to visit if they do an accepted students day. What you and @tkoparent say about the campus is consistent with everything else I have heard and is very encouraging.

Thank you @tkoparent. Can’t wait to do the visit. My daughter wants to plan something immediately, but we are hoping to wait for an accepted students day.

Campus is absolutely stunning!! I’m also an accepted ‘25, but I’ve been able to take multiple tours both pre and post Covid. It’s my favorite campus I’ve visited, and I’ve been to quite the variety of schools from Purdue to GA Tech to other LACs. I also live in the Columbus area and love the part of town that Granville’s close to.

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agree with @tkoparent – campus is lovely, lots of green and students go up and down the hill all the time. Definitely watch the video tour – my kid (who graduated in the pandemic) teared up watching it, they all miss their “home one the hill.” On dorms, Denison is in the middle of a multi-year renovation of existing dorms, upgrading bathrooms, flooring, furnishings etc. The new senior apartment building, Silverstein, opened Fall '20, so all seniors can now live in an apartment. Silverstein added 160 new beds, so that will allow some of the smaller doubles in Curtis to be reconfigured as singles, and take pressure off of using all available space for housing. The pandemic slowed down the dorm renovation, as a lot of the dorm work that would have happened last summer instead went to prepare campus for covid protocols, but I understand they are back on track to continue that upgrade. I’m not sure why food gets negative comments – my kid thought it was fine, and I certainly enjoyed my share of locally sourced organic beef cheeseburgers at Slayter, with home made potatoe chips. There’s a new, expanded coffee shop which opened in Slayter, plus two dining halls – Curtis and Huffman, and after hours food at the “Nest” and the “Snatch” (bandersnatch, the student run music and coffee house), plus Slayter. Pre-pandemic, there was a lot of work completed to making the space in front of Slayter – the Student Union – more of a campus center, and that has really transformed that space.

A long way of saying – my grad, and his friends – loved the physical campus, with its discrete “neighborhoods” of Academic Quad, East Quad, etc. and had no trouble navigating up and down the hill to get to athletic or arts facilities. You will see kids walking up and down the hill to the village throughout the day – to CVS, Steamroller Bagels, the Pub etc. We didn’t know anything about Denison before we visited, but after our first visit in 2015 came away absolutely charmed by the campus and delighted by the diversity of the student body.

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My data is much more aged (my DD1 graduated 10 years ago). I agree with the comments above. Lovely campus at the top of a hill, New England style town. DD1 would visit a Farmer’s Market on Saturdays right at the bottom of the Denison hill. I’m glad the dorms are being updated. Some of those were looking a little tired. Food will, of course, be hit or miss depending on the taste of the individual but I know there were many options available.

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Signed up for an account to say that we found Denison to be a beautiful campus when we visited last January.

We ate late breakfast / lunch on campus and it was one of the best meals we’ve had at any campus including some highly rated and I’m pretty picky about food. I’ve walked away from more than one campus dining experience still hungry.
We were welcomed, the dining hall was new and beautiful with many windows and spotlessly clean even right after breakfast. I remember there was no trash or food on the floor under the tables or dishes left on the tables at all which I found surprising for college students.

We were welcomed at the very end of breakfast, sat through the transition to lunch, and also tried some lunch food. There was local fruit and other local and organic food. The local breakfast sausage was really good. There was a vegetarian sausage options. My son liked the pizza. There were fruit infused water dispensers. Very nice.

I’m also wondering if we should wait for an admitted students day. That would be great. I really, really like Denison. My son does not have a favorite now and the decision is going to be challenging. He feels like Denison might be a little small with a very small computer science department and a lot of students who plan to go on to grad school which he may not want to do. He also thinks Denison might be a bit of a bubble though I’m happy about that and really all of his other choices are bubbles as well. We have a lot to think about in the next 6 weeks.


One piece of info I just learned is they are not going to have official admitted student days perhaps as done previously (probably due to Covid) but doing longer campus tours on weekdays.