Higher Education Executive, Ben Corpus, on How Covid Learning Gaps Will Be Revealed

First Posted: Jan 06, 2021 11:58 AM EST
Higher Education Executive, Ben Corpus, on How Covid Learning Gaps Will Be Revealed

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In March of 2020, schools shut down across the country and moved to distance learning on the fly. Given it was accompanied by a recession, lost jobs, social isolation, and racial strife resulting in protests across America, education took a back seat.

Dr. Ben Corpus is a higher education executive with more than 24 years of proven enrollment management, strategic planning, diversity, and student affairs experience in several unique colleges and universities.

In this article, Dr. Corpus comments on how the residual effects of the Covid-19 pandemic are revealing significant learning gaps in the U.S. education system, thus shedding a much-needed spotlight on academic morass.

The Dire Reality

During the first half of 2020, absenteeism in schools was rampant. Not being on task, specifically in math, leads to decreased achievement, stunted progress to the next level, and lower grades. Studies have proven that when there is no attendance, there is no progress. For example, eighth-grade performance, as measured by grades, dropped significantly as the number of days missed increased dramatically.

The impact beyond the eighth grade is dire. According to McKinsey, high school dropout rates are predicted to increase to about 232,000 students in grades 9 to 11, particularly among low-income students due to Covid.

While many schools provide grade forgiveness of all sorts, parents and students should know long-term excellence and progress can't rely strictly on a hand-out.

We need you, and you can't fake it. The skills required for crucial in-demand careers require a steady progression of building blocks, specifically in math.

The building blocks aren't just courses to check-off; they include personal cognitive development and math fluency that comes only with regular practice, some trial and error, and intellectual grit. A student's part in actively getting back on track can't be underestimated.

Over the next decade, tech jobs will sky-rocket by 15%, far better than the projected overall U.S. employment job growth. Approximately 70% of U.S. employers have a tech talent shortage and rank engineers, cybersecurity experts, network administrators, computer scientists, and IT support as the top five job types that are the most difficult to hire.

Stop Wasting Time

Now is the time to use those extra hours found not commuting, hanging out at fast-food joints, or, sadly, working that part-time job. The variety of online learning options are easy to find, and many have only improved over the last year.

Content may be Googlebiquitous (your welcome), but you'll make the most progress through human interactions and learning from people who can give you direct feedback on your progress, or lack thereof.

Find experts and talk through your specific academic gaps to jolt you back in place, resolve the concepts that have had a death-grip on your progress, or simply to catapult you to a higher grade that will not only jump you to the next level but will help prepare you for that job-in-waiting.

One specific place to turn as a high school or college student is Knack. This innovative company developed an online platform that I would call the Uber for learning. It takes you where you want to go, when you want to go, by "drivers" who've been in your seat and are almost expert in content.

University Students Give Back

Florida Polytechnic University embarked on the first in-person, online math-talent-for-hire in Florida by connecting with AP calculus teachers to help their students catch-up and get ahead. University students, well on their way past Calc III to discrete math and differential equations, provided evening and weekend online sessions with high school students to fill gaps, help with homework, prepare them for exams and connect on a critically important element of learning: to have face-to-face conversations with peers.

These outfits and opportunities are available in many forms, with many students. College and high school students are anxious to connect, to help, to give back, and to share their love of learning and their recognition of the relevance of math.

Florida Poly students are fully aware that not only are tomorrow's jobs waiting for them, but their capacity to make a difference, innovate and advance society rests with them.

If your son or daughter, or you are in school, no matter what grade, you must actively engage right now in additional face-to-face connections that will challenge, support, and guide you toward mathematical proficiency, from student peers who are ready and willing to share their love of math.

Start. Now.

About Ben Corpus

Ben Corpus is a higher education executive and consultant with more than 20 years of proven admissions, financial aid, strategic planning, diversity, and student affairs experience. Currently, Dr. Corpus is the Vice Provost for Enrollment at Florida Polytechnic University, Florida's most selective public STEM university. He was also Vice Provost for Enrollment Management at the University of Texas at Austin, Vice President for Enrollment Management & Student Affairs at Baruch College, Vice President for Enrollment and Student Affairs at Hostos Community College, and Chief of Staff to the President at Plattsburgh State University.

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