What challenges and opportunities exist for the future of the liberal arts?

The liberal arts colleges have always had some difficulty with financing themselves. In his book, Liberal Arts at the Brink, Ferrall references the Chairman of the Carnegie Commision on Higher Education, Clark Kerr who said in 1971 that “while 29 percent of 730 liberal arts colleges were not in financial trouble, 43 percent were headed for trouble and 28 percent were already in financial difficulty” (37). Financial troubles seem to stick with many of these types of school. Ferral goes onto reference Virginia Fadil and Nancy Carter who in a report in 1980, “said that 57 four-year private colleges had closed, 24 had merged, and 6 had become public between 1970 and 1979” (37). Although historically Liberal Arts Colleges may have encountered economic difficulties, it seems that the ones coming in the future may surmount the gravity of the ones in the past. Liberal Arts seem to be suffering and finding more difficulties apparent when considering their funding lately. Since competition between liberal arts schools over student retention and enrollment, they have been forced to make more and more improvements to make themselves more intriguing to prospective students. This necessity to beautify and improve, has forced colleges to increase their tuitions, placing more pressure on students to make massive investments into their college education. For many years the tuitions have been increasing, but it seems that with the amount of increase that has been happening lately and the amount of frustration stirring for students increasing there is going to be a clash. When that clash of students not wanting to pay their tuitions occurs and the value of liberal arts is not worth the cost, Liberal Arts Colleges will be finding themselves in deeper trouble than they ever have. In order for the Liberal Arts to not be met with these future difficulties, they must adapt and find ways to agree to cease this insanely rapid competition of bettering their images. They must focus on their curriculum and have the students appreciate the campus while they are there, without requiring so many new improvements. After all, the most important part of college is not the beauty of the place you are in but the knowledge you are retaining there, although beautiful campuses never hurt.

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