Personal Development Portfolio (PDP)
A Bridgewater College Education: Making the Most of your Freedom
You go to college to acquire the knowledge and skills necessary for success in life. But education also enables you to be free: free to be creative and determine your career path, free to express your ideas and ultimately, free to live a fulfilling life.
But on the other hand you go to a college like Bridgewater, because you want that freedom to start right now, in your education. In a globally interconnected economy where opportunities and knowledge are changing rapidly, will you learn how to be creative and flexible? Will you learn how to think for yourself? If you want a life that is free, don’t you want an education that prepares you for freedom by teaching you to be free? That’s the purpose of our PDP program.
That starts with the foundational skills of being able to write well, communicate orally with precision and persuasiveness, calculate, and use the scientific method, skills that employers always say are the most important. But at Bridgewater we exercise these skills freely to analyze a question, a problem, a text, a painting or an issue. We don’t just reproduce the right answer. We try to explore not only what we know but also what we think we know and the possibilities for asking new questions. We integrate or draw connections from a broader array of knowledge from various disciplines. Then we apply what we learn to interesting problems where the right answer is not in a book. For just as the best careers allow us to be free in terms of creativity and autonomy, the best education is one in which it’s up to you to figure out, not the right answer, but the best answer.
Now, the best jobs, the best education, the best life is one in which you have to figure out not only the best answer but the best you and the best community that comes from that answer. This is another dimension of freedom that is important at Bridgewater College. We think the best you is healthy and emotionally well, able to exercise self-control and achieve balance between the stresses of job, family, relationships and other activities. And we think the best you is also able to think critically about ethics and the meaning of your life, the ethical implications of your beliefs and actions. After all, freedom is not just doing what you want to do. It is having the courage to do what you really want to do, what you want to do after you have really thought about the practical and ethical implications of your actions. The issue is not a matter of knowledge or skill but judgment and wisdom. A regular education teaches you the answer to a problem. A Bridgewater College education also teaches you to think about whether it is the right problem, whether that problem is important, and why.
This also means taking responsibility for your actions. You are not alone. The best life means learning to get along with and working along with the tremendous diversity of people and interests out there. So we need to learn about the cultures, ideas and needs of people different from ourselves. This is very practical, as the work of the future will involve engaging with a complicated world. But this is also the work of free people, citizens who take responsibility for solving problems, balancing our own interests with the interests of others, and maintaining the institutions and rules upon which we and our communities depend.
This freeing education is the mission of all of the programs of Bridgewater College, but it is the special focus of our PDP program. It begins in PDP150, our first-year seminar, in which you will work with a small group to learn to analyze, ask questions, and apply what you learn to the challenges of intellectual development, emotional and physical wellness, ethics, and citizenship. It continues in a mentoring relationship with your advisor and the faculty, most likely in your major. And it culminates in your Senior Portfolio, a portfolio that documents your personal development and achievements at Bridgewater College. This is evidence to employers, graduate and professional schools, and yourself that you are more than just another college student with a degree but a person with a passion to make a difference, to be a leader, in your career, your company and your community.