If liberal arts colleges are to remain relevant, they must construct for themselves a substantive and compelling identity. As it currently stands, the “liberal arts” is an ill-defined concept—this in turn leaves liberal arts colleges with an ambiguous educational mandate. Historically, all colleges could reasonably have fallen under the umbrella of liberal arts; they were fairly small, focused on the humanities (science included at the time), and did not emphasize basic vocational training. Nowadays, liberal arts colleges seem distinct only in that they are small and expensive. This is a grossly insufficient foundation on which to construct an institutional identity, which raises the question: why have liberal arts colleges lost so much of their luster?
Much of the issue likely stems from a perceived lack of utility. Liberal arts colleges fail to offer something unique or useful enough to justify their tremendous cost, The small size of these school is currently their most attractive feature, but for an increasingly cash-strapped populace this may no longer be enough motivation. The likely result will be a gradual decline and deterioration of liberal arts education, leading to a domino effect of folding colleges that will leave all but the wealthiest in ruins. Rich families might still send their children to these schools, but for most of the population they will seem like holdovers from a bygone era, increasingly irrelevant to the modern world.