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The Values Of Liberal Education Are Decreasing

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Facilities of liberal education are facing declines in enrollments due to a bounty of reasons; We have been declining at the high costs of tuition, the increasing levels of student debt, and the declining success of college graduates in finding good jobs. Rather than we question politicalness and delve into deep inquiries, we are mainly forced to build up skills necessary for the workplace, which unfortunately has been on a steady decline due to the reduction of the humanities, starting around the 1970s. Liberal arts is meant to build up a student’s values and make them virtuous, but research has shown that it’s inconclusive to know if liberal education in the higher-ups actually achieves this goal and central purpose. All of this makes you wonder, “Is liberal arts college worthy?” Are the values that liberal arts try to make us understand at a value deep inside worth the decline in the long run? Is it worth being shafted and replaced by civil education that doesn’t teach us any of the values liberal education does unless it’s showcased at a meticulous level?


Firstly, we need to consider the values that both civil and liberal education and how that applies to the decline of liberal education. Lorraine Smith Pangle, Philosopher at the University of Texas has stated “Often, liberal education is described as an effort to instill breadth, general knowledge, critical thinking skills, cosmopolitan sympathies, an appreciation of the arts, and a taste for the life of the mind as an end in itself.” (Pangle, 208) Despite being worthwhile, civil education heavily promotes them for the utilization of these skills in the workplace, in which civil education focuses on more than a liberal education. While liberal education focuses on a more open-minded perspective instead of these competencies, civil education is able to utilize these and meld them to equip you with one of the skills to earn a living, while civic education also teaches you to live freely and think wisely, which in this world the former is much more necessary to acquire a profit, it makes you wonder that “liberal arts education is a luxury reserved for those who do not need to make a living.” (Rowan 51)

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Cate Rowen, executive director of institutional research at Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts, advances on the fact of comparing values to the “cost” of tuition. If we base education based on only costs, we lose the opportunity to promote the benefits of a liberal arts education that define our institutional missions and our educational values. It’s difficult to base a concept like dollars and how that would affect the Liberal Arts territory. It isn’t even about the values of LA, these types of colleges cost more; According to the Mellon Foundation, Liberal Arts colleges, on average, cost up to $2,000 more than the average 4-year private school and $10,000 more than the average 4-year public school. With STEM colleges being more accessible and cheaper than Liberal Arts, it would make sense that Liberal Arts colleges have been increasing tuition costs. “The AAC&U defines the goal of a liberal education to prepare students to live responsible and productive lives” Is a quote Rowen states, which ties along to the first paragraph and that Liberal Arts focus more on the values to improve life rather, but high tuition costs, budget cuts, and other factors come into play of making it why they’re decreasing.


Steven Brint is Vice Provost, Undergraduate Education and Professor of Sociology at the University of California, he published a study on declining fields in the U.S. Colleges and Universities starting in the 1970s. The study proves that Liberal Arts has been on a declining prevalence and that colleges with high proportions of science and other majors were low in Liberal Arts, and vice versa. Results for liberal arts-oriented colleges and universities and for public institutions were not as consistent in the case of adoptions as in case of drops. While they have been declining, colleges would rather fill in for forgotten LA fields than drop known ones, so it would be difficult to find a consistent balance between. It shows that the decline of all these fields have been slow, but is a rapid decline compared to the beginning of the time period. Some other fields in the LA field can make you infer about ideologies like insularity and globalization, but it also shows natural science fields have been decreasing, not just LA. It makes you wonder if LA could make a comeback, or if it’s just that other fields in those branches have had economic growth.

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