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

Liberal Arts institutions have been facing many problems in recent years. Perhaps the greatest issue is the widespread closure of liberal arts programs. The problem does not arise solely from the closure of liberal arts colleges, but more commonly from many liberal arts colleges changing their curricula in order to be viewed as less traditionally liberal arts and more vocational. The diminishment of liberal arts programs comes from a decrease in demand for a liberal arts education—and these types of institutions have been forced to transform in order to get more students and evolve with the market. The greatest challenge for the future of liberal arts is for these institutions to be able to sustain themselves without abandoning their liberal arts roots or having to shut down completely. According to Victor E. Ferrall in College Unbound, the cause of this is financial problems and competing with other institutions. It is also very important to remember that education is a consumer-driven business; The competition and financial problems are rooted out of students’ decreased desire to attend their school.

While researching for my finally paper, I found an example of a liberal arts institution that was not doing well. Nobody knew of the school, and nobody wanted to go. But a new president changed everything and completely turned around Dickinson College to become one of the best liberal arts schools in the country. This reflects an opportunity existing for liberal arts institutions: The opportunity to implement new policies and programs, and transform the schools to make them better, to make them more distinct, more known, more liberating for students, and for them to act as tools for change and equality rather than continue to admit and educate those in higher income brackets much more than those in lower income brackets. One such policy that the new president of Dickinson implemented was the removal of an SAT requirement, which has improved the school’s image among counselors and students and allowed for higher admission rates of individuals with lower scores and intriguing profiles (38). Only 7% of white applicants choose not to submit SAT scores, whereas 25% of students of color choose not to submit SAT scores, making recruiting minorities easier, which is vital to the college’s positioning statement, “reflecting America…” which had failed to be more than rhetoric before the option to not submit scores (38). (http://0-www.jstor.org.oasys.lib.oxy.edu/stable/40177230?Search=yes&resultItemClick=true&searchText=Mindshare&searchText=and&searchText=the&searchText=Life&searchText=of&searchText=the&searchText=Mind:&searchText=A&searchText=Liberal&searchText=Arts&searchText=College&searchText=Finds&searchText=Its&searchText=Market&searchText=Niche&searchUri=%2Faction%2FdoBasicSearch%3FQuery%3DMindshare%2Band%2Bthe%2BLife%2Bof%2Bthe%2BMind%3A%2BA%2BLiberal%2BArts%2BCollege%2BFinds%2BIts%2BMarket%2BNiche%26amp%3BSearch%3DS&seq=1#page_scan_tab_contents)


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