Hello, things are coming down to the wire and I need to make a decision about undergraduate school! Currently, I am deciding between Ohio State and Denison University and I intend to study philosophy (may change eventually) and pursue law school after undergraduate school. I’m outgoing and in some ways, I gravitate towards the culture and affordability of Ohio State. On the other hand, I have “geeked” out in many ways during high school such as starting a Debate Team and leading Model Un despite being a varsity athlete for two sports. Ultimately, I care about my life fulfillment and success. Any insights into what I have shared? What is the Denison University social scene like? How can I know if I would do the best at a small or large school?
My son’s a first year student at Denison. We were talking about just this question the other day, as most of his high school friends chose larger schools. He said that some of them have found it difficult to make close friends or find their place at big state schools, whereas at Denison, he has made a lot of friends and always sees people he knows when walking around the campus. He likes the fact that his social network is very diverse - first-years, upperclassmen, people he has met in class, people he has met through his sport, etc. He also likes the small classes that facilitate discussion and the fact he has already formed strong relationships with professors in a couple of different departments. I imagine his friends at the bigger schools will find their place as time goes on, and it is possible that Denison might start to feel small by senior year, but in deciding what would work best for you, maybe think about how that first year might feel. My son took a philosophy class last semester and really enjoyed it - it seems to be a strong department at Denison. You might also want to look at the Communications department, which has an emphasis on rhetoric that might fit with your interest in debate. My son is also a varsity athlete and that experience has been terrific. It’s obviously not OSU football, but the facilities, coaching and support are excellent and a number of the teams are very strong. Good luck with your decision - they are both great schools!
On a purely academic level, I would recommend Denison for a degree in something like philosophy. Ohio State is known for its business and pre-professional programs. Denison is a small liberal arts college where you’ll have small classes and actual professors (not adjuncts or grad students), which will be better for improving writing and speaking skills (which will help you get into and succeed at law school).
Ohio State is a good school, but it’s a better university for people who want to get a professional degree (business, accounting, engineering, nursing, social work, etc.). Many of your intro classes are huge lectures (very little discussion). Ohio State prioritizes things like STEM and business. Denison, on the other hand, is your classic liberal arts school–everyone there will be studying a humanity or science, the classes are small, and the students more passionate about learning for the sake of learning (rather than just getting a degree).
Denison also has a really good program in PPE–political science, philosophy, and economics. I know a lot of people who majored in that and later went on to work in politics or law.
Put a couple thousands young people together and you’ll find a rich social life
In addition, you can always attend a large university for graduate school - such a thing isn’t possible with LACs, they’re literally once in a lifetime. Go for Denison