This is an important moment for our College and our country. The virtues and value of a liberal arts education have never been more important—or under more scrutiny. The economic return on investment in a college education is well-supported by data. And yet, that intrinsic value is being questioned. The central message is often that professional programs are the only way to go. Students must focus on science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) and narrowly focused career training for higher education to pay off. But those of us in higher education—and business leaders from across the sectors of our economy—know better.
While students at BC certainly receive those career-focused, hands-on skills—working as athletic trainers alongside their professional counterparts at Division I schools; interning in the political epicenter of Washington D.C.; discovering how to coach by learning from some of the best; and producing, installing and promoting area art exhibitions—it is those skills combined with the soft skills of a liberal arts education that make our students desired by employers and truly successful. Collaboration, creativity and communication are among the most desired skill sets of employers today, and these are also the skills that a Bridgewater education cultivates—regardless of academic major. These are the reasons—along with great experiential learning opportunities like undergraduate research, internships and study abroad—that our graduates get their first jobs and then progress in their careers in ways they never imagined. A Bridgewater education never becomes obsolete; it equips our graduates with the habits of mind to be lifelong learners and to grow in careers that take many different directions.
A Bridgewater education doesn’t just prepare students for the real world, it IS the real world. It’s about teamwork, leadership, creative thinking, and the ability to develop connections. The connections fostered and developed at BC are what set our liberal arts education apart. These connections—in labs with faculty, in internships on campus and throughout the country, in May Term experiences across the globe—provide an additional and crucial layer to the skills developed in the classroom. That powerful combination results in student and alumni success in every field imaginable.
In this issue, we share a sampling of the exciting outcomes of our students and alumni. I hope you’ll recognize and appreciate that the skills and connections developed during their time at BC are making a difference in the “real world.” These stories should help put to rest any questions about the value of liberal arts. I hope you enjoy this look at the successes that originate with a Bridgewater College education as much as I have.
With best regards,
David W. Bushman, Ph.D.