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Pandemic Drives Working Americans to Seek Further Education

New survey from Bright Horizons EdAssist Solutions® reveals value of education opportunities, including promoting equity in the workplace

The COVID-19 pandemic ignited a shift in how working Americans view continuing education, according to a new survey commissioned by Bright Horizons EdAssist Solutions® (NYSE: BFAM). The survey revealed the 85% of full and part-time employed Americans feel employers need to rethink their benefits offerings in light of the pandemic.

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What are employees looking for in this current climate? Education opportunities. 78% of working Americans believe the pandemic has increased the need for companies to support their employees with education benefits, including tuition reimbursement for degree and non-degree programs and student loan repayment programs.

What’s more, education benefits are not only driving employee motivation, but they may be a key factor in promoting workplace equality. According to the survey, nearly two-thirds of American workers (65 percent) think that providing education benefits to all employees helps promote racial and gender equality in the workplace.

“We are seeing a significantly higher retention rate among Black, Hispanic, and female employees who are participating in their employer’s benefits program through EdAssist Solutions,” says Patrick Donovan, Senior Vice President, Emerging Services at Bright Horizons. “Now more than ever, employers are looking to build inclusive cultures, create a level playing field for all employees, drive higher retention and, ultimately, more career advancement. Workforce education programs can help achieve these goals.”

In addition to an increased desire for education opportunities – the availability of employer-sponsored education assistance is having a deeper impact on today’s workforce:

  • 75 percent say they would feel more motivated in their current job if they had access to education opportunities through their employer.

  • 74 percent believe these opportunities would make them feel more secure in their current job.

  • 73 percent agree that education opportunities offered by their employer would make them feel more equipped to do their current job.

“COVID-19 magnified the need for career development and accelerated learning in the workforce as corporate strategies have shifted and difficult staffing decisions created new and immediate needs,” says Donovan. “There is a real opportunity for employers to rethink their benefits programs to meet the needs of today’s workforce and invest in ways to drive employee performance – that starts with providing compelling education benefits.”

For more information on Bright Horizons EdAssist Solutions, please visit

About the Survey:

Bright Horizons commissioned ENGINE INSIGHTS to conduct an Online CARAVAN® survey to understand working Americans’ attitudes toward education benefits. For the purpose of this survey, education benefits are defined as education opportunities offered through an employer as part of a corporate benefits program such as tuition reimbursement for degree and non-degree programs and student loan repayment programs. The survey was conducted September 16-20, 2020 among a demographically representative U.S. sample of 1,084 adults 18 years of age and older who are employed full or part-time, comprised of 627 men and 457 women. The findings

College students are still finding romance in a pandemic, through Zoom crushes and actual dates

The dorm hookup, once a staple of college, has mostly become a thing of the past. Masked first dates are the new normal, and dating apps and Zoom crushes have replaced staring at the cute person through the flashing lights of a party.

Campus codes of conduct can be strict — in September, Northeastern University dismissed 11 students for gathering in a hotel room. But hooking up can fall into a gray area. The University of Georgia posted — then deleted — guidelines recommending that students wear a mask while hooking up, after resounding online ridicule. Other schools prohibit close contact with anyone outside of roommates. But the level of enforcement is often unclear.

The changing cadence of college life has made romantic prospects harder to come by, even for those who are back on campus. The nebulous circles that define social relations — lab partners, gym buddies, people you meet on a night out and avoid eye contact with for the next four years — have mostly been phased out, or rendered virtual.

As Diaz-Cruz puts it: “Co-workers have been removed, acquaintances aren’t a part of my life anymore. Friends of friends, all those little social interactions that make up your day, it’s not really part of your day.”

Scout Turkel, a senior at the University of California at Berkeley, adds, “in order to have intense relationships in your life, you also need to have casual people.”

For Turkel, the pandemic has made hookups and what she calls “convenient intimacies” much less available. Berkeley is all-online for the semester, but Turkel is still living in a nearby co-op with other students. Turkel’s solution to the problem of “convenient intimacies”? Hooking up with a housemate, an experience she documented over the summer in the Sex on Tuesday column for The Daily Californian.

“It seems like the only ethical option from a public health perspective,” Turkel wrote of her intra-house hookup. And though the relationship ended amicably, Turkel says, “it does feel like a huge deal to lose my only clear opportunity for physical intimacy during a time it doesn’t feel available to me.”

That desire for physical intimacy is in part why dating apps have become even more popular on campuses (many have seen traffic spikes overall). As Sarah Berg, a senior at the University of North Texas, put it, “during the pandemic, everybody was bored and downloaded Tinder, Bumble and Hinge.”

This video-chatting era has also given rise to the “Zoom crush.” Nicky Romano, a junior at Temple University in Philadelphia, was shocked when a graduate student in one of his online classes approached him while he was studying outside on campus. He’d recognized the blond streak that then marked the middle of Romano’s dark hair from the squares of their shared Zoom grid, and asked him for a study date.

Romano didn’t quite know what to make of it — was it a romantic overture, or a platonic request? But he does know the feeling of seeing someone

College soccer is in their vision, but pandemic interrupts the recruitment process

The result is countless high school athletes unsure if college coaches will be able to see them play, or if there will even be slot available on college rosters.

Hannibal said it’s good to be able to communicate with coaches, but there’s no substitute for being seen in-game.

“I was really banking on this spring and this fall to get seen and get in front of these college coaches,” said Hannibal, a 5-foot-10-inch forward from Ipswich. “Unfortunately, that hasn’t really been the case. I’ve been home a lot of the time.”

The ban on college coach visits isn’t the only obstacle for collegiate hopefuls. High school coaches say the drastic rule changes meant to prevent the spread of COVID-19 among players have made it hard for players to showcase their talents on film.

“If college coaches did come see them play, it’s a different game. It’s not soccer,” said St. John’s Prep Dave Crowell, taking note of the MIAA modifications for the Fall I season. “More physical players would definitely not look as good.”

The new rules mandate that players avoid all contact — even laying a hand on an opponent’s back is cause for a free kick. Headers are also banned, and indirect kicks have replaced throw-ins and corner kicks.

“It’s hard to get into it and play real soccer when all these little things were getting called if you’re too close to someone,” said St. John’s Prep midfielder Owen Siewert, another Prep senior who is hoping to play in college. Siewert was slated to attend a number of recruiting camps over the summer, but they were all pushed to 2021.

High school players, not to be defeated, have adapted. Hannibal used a camera he got for his birthday in February to create quarantine highlight tapes to send to coaches — drills in the backyard of his home in Medford, shooting on goal, and lifting in his makeshift home gym.

Lexington coach Dastan Pakyari said now more than ever part of his job is to put his players in a position to showcase their strengths.

“Their online presence has to be a lot greater now,” Pakyari said. “During quarantine I was trying to help players find portions of games to send to coaches to give them that extra nudge.”

He added that while the shortened 10-game season offers less in-game action, it gives him more time in practice to develop skills and “round out” his athletes.

Both Hannibal and Siewert scored goals in Prep’s 3-0 win over Malden Catholic on Friday. Siewert scored on a penalty kick and Hannibal drilled a close-range shot off the crossbar and in. With a short season, every positive play and every goal means that much more.

Even if high school athletes do get identified by college coaches, if their web presence and shortened season go perfectly, that still may not be enough. With the coronavirus spurring the NCAA to offer added eligibility to current athletes, there are far fewer spaces for

No Home, No Wi-Fi: Pandemic Adds to Strain on Poor College Students

Mr. Sawyer, who wants to become a pastor, is using his time off to work for civil rights organizations and to fund-raise so that he can re-enroll in the spring and obtain a doctorate in theology. “It’s definitely a delay, but sometimes stumbling blocks come,” he said.

Many students like Mr. Sawyer have been looking for alternative ways to pay for their education. As the coronavirus was closing campuses this past spring, Rise, a student-led organization that advocates college affordability, created an online network to help students find emergency financial aid, apply for public benefits and locate food pantries.

Rise has continued to serve more than 1,000 students a month who are struggling with issues like paying rent, losing their jobs and lacking internet access, said Max Lubin, the organization’s chief executive. “We’re overwhelmed by the need,” he said.

Stable housing and healthy food were already major concerns before the pandemic. A 2019 survey found that 17 percent of college students had experienced homelessness in the past year, and about half reported issues such as difficulty paying rent or utilities. Nearly 40 percent lacked reliable access to nutritious food.

The coronavirus crisis worsened many of these challenges, according to a June report by the Hope Center, which found that nearly three out of five students surveyed had trouble affording basic needs during the pandemic.

Financial aid in the United States had already been stretched thin by the rising costs of tuition, room and board. At their maximum, need-based federal Pell grants cover just 28 percent of the total cost of attending a public college today, compared with more than half of that cost in the 1980s. State aid, while recovering somewhat since the Great Recession, still falls short of need, and state budgets have been further drained by the health crisis.

The CARES Act, passed by Congress in March, provided about $14 billion for higher education, with about half earmarked for students. But there were limits on who could receive it, and college students were ineligible for the $1,200 stimulus check that went to taxpayers.

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How the coronavirus pandemic will change offices in the US

  • The coronavirus pandemic has altered many sectors of commercial real estate, particularly office space. 
  • A report by Marcus and Millichap analyzed the national office outlook as of September 2020, and broke down four ways office space is on track to change long-term as a result of the pandemic. 
  • These changes include larger spaces, increased flexibility, and higher demand in suburban markets.
  • In other words, some of the hallmarks of remote working, like having a lot more room to spread out, will make their way into the office.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories

The coronavirus pandemic has upended the office sector of commercial real estate as workers have embraced remote working on a massive scale, with little certainty about when or how that will end.

But we aren’t living through the death of the office.

A report by commercial brokerage Marcus and Millichap outlines how the vast majority of companies will still need office space to operate.

The report, which analyzed the national office outlook as of  September 2020, broke down four ways office space is on track to change long-term, post the COVID-19 pandemic.

Some of these changes will mirror remote work. For example, with flexibility likely to persist over the long term, remote working will focus on individual tasks and offices will be for collaboration and group meetings, require a lot more space to spread out.

1. Flexibility will remain important and office spaces will get bigger

Per the report, office space will be reimagined as many employees and firms will continue to work at least partially from home.

In fact about 37% of workers in the US could feasibly do their work from home, per the report. In addition, according to the report, a survey of office-occupying firms found that 82% will continue to allow remote work in the future, at least some of the time.

Independent work will be the focus when working remotely, and collaborative functions like meetings will be the focus for office spaces , Marcus and Millichap predicts. 

“Interior design, access to open spaces and the ability to easily reconfigure workspaces will be top priorities going forward,” the report reads.

The feel of the office space will be less like a cubicle and more like a living room, in other words. The shift in design, per Marcus and Millichap, will call for developers to add more space, a change that follows years of offices cutting down . In fact, per the report, a decade ago the typical office was 250 square feet, now it is under 200. 

2. Secondary and tertiary markets will come out on top

Expanding office space in secondary and tertiary markets was trending long before COVID-19 because of the low associated costs, according to Marcus and Millichap. 

Those areas have been weathering the pandemic relatively well, per the report, with fewer vacancies than larger markets.

“While most markets in the second quarter registered softening demand, some smaller metros remained more stable. Tampa-St. Petersburg, St. Louis and Sacramento proved

The uncertainty of the pandemic has college-bound athletes pondering a pause in eligibility

“This summer was very hectic,” said Gill, a midfielder and recipient of the Nobles Shield award for most respected female athlete.

“Almost every day I’d see a notification for a group chat, [an incoming player] would ask if anyone’s made a decision, and everyone replied immediately, ‘No, what are people’s thoughts?’”

“It was very scary at the beginning. I knew the gap year was the path I wanted to take, but in the back of my mind I was so nervous that my plans weren’t going to be as rewarding as I thought.”

Gill is not alone.

A study conducted by the Higher Education Research Institute at UCLA in late April found that at least 16 percent of surveyed seniors said they will take a gap year, whereas the study found fewer than 3 percent deferred the previous year.

And it’s not just first-year students. Gill’s future teammate, former Concord-Carlisle star midfielder Payton Vaughn, is a junior at Yale. A two-time high school All-American, Vaughn started six games in 2020 before the spring season was cancelled. She applied and received her eligibility back for that season, and said she will likely take this spring semester off to be eligible for another year.

At Yale, student-athletes have eight semesters of eligibility, so Vaughn is enrolled this fall, but can make a decision prior to Thanksgiving on her status for the spring. Her sister, Fallon, a three-time All-American at Concord-Carlisle and member of the U-17 women’s lacrosse national team, has already decided on a gap year before enrolling for her first year at Yale.

“It’s nice that we have the flexibility,” said Vaughn. “It definitely depends on what the season looks like. A lot of the Yale athletics community is taking time off, so that’s a big factor.”

Another key factor is the status of Yale’s competitors in the Ivy League. Princeton and Harvard — where Gill’s older sister Oily and cousin Charlotte Clark are enrolled as juniors — require student-athletes to take the entire year off in order to preserve their eligibility, rather than deferring by semester.

So Vaughn, and the 17 Yale players who are deferring their eligibility, have legitimate concerns about what their conference schedule might look like next spring.

For student-athletes participating in winter sports, such as Colby basketball senior Matt Hanna, the decision to defer was relatively straightforward even before the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) announced the cancellation of competitions this winter.

Hanna, a guard from Milford and former Division 1 state champion at Catholic Memorial, helped Colby to a 24-4 record and a NESCAC Finals appearance last winter. Without a graduate program available at Colby, Hanna said he couldn’t risk playing 10 or fewer games without a postseason in his final year of eligibility.

“Everyone’s situation is different, but for me it was kind of a no-brainer,” said Hanna, a 5-foot-9-inch guard who averaged 15.5 points per game last season. “Basketball has kind of been my life. So especially coming

College grads struggle to launch careers in a pandemic economy. ‘I chose the worst year to get my life together’

CHICAGO — Kevin Zheng had big plans lined up as he prepared to graduate in the spring with a degree in criminal justice from the University of Illinois at Chicago.

The 23-year-old thought he’d enter the job market well-prepared, with an internship at the Chicago Police Department on his resume.

But the COVID-19 health crisis upended that plan. His internship was canceled, his graduation was delayed until August, and he sat in his bedroom for the virtual commencement ceremony. Now he’s looking for a job in a pandemic-induced recession.

“I chose the worst year to get my life together,” said Zheng, a first-generation college graduate who lives in Chicago’s McKinley Park neighborhood.

As the coronavirus pandemic wears on, Zheng and other recent college graduates are grappling with a tight job market, high unemployment rates and pressure to find work to pay off student loans.

At the start of the year, Generation Z, typically defined as those born after 1997, was headed into the workforce during the longest economic expansion in U.S. history. But now the unemployment rate in Illinois for those ages 20 to 24 is 15.5%, one of the highest among all age groups in the state, according to data from the U.S. Department of Labor.

With more employers cutting jobs and some boosting qualifications for open positions, recent college graduates are worried they’ll fall behind in their careers. Some are saving money for student loan payments by cutting expenses, while others are applying for part-time and low-wage jobs. Many still live with their parents.

Zheng, who lives with his parents and owes about $30,000 in student loans, said he is considering picking up part-time work, but he’s seen how difficult it can be. Both his parents work in the restaurant industry, often cobbling together shifts at different dining establishments to make a stable income. Zheng said he’s scared of taking a job that may expose him to the coronavirus and then potentially infecting his parents.

“My parents are on the older side. I’m afraid if I get the virus, I won’t be the one getting hurt. They’re going to be the ones seriously harmed by the virus. That’s also really deterred me from going out there too much,” he said.

Another UIC graduate, Serge Golota, 22, who earned a biochemistry degree in May, is moving from his Chicago apartment back to his parents’ Glenview home because he hasn’t found a job.

According to a study by the Pew Research Center, 52% of young adults ages 18 to 29 reported in July they were living with one or both parents, an increase from a decade ago when 44% of young adults lived at home.

Golota, who has about $17,000 in student loan debt, said he applied to lab positions and broadened his search to include pharmaceutical sales, but potential employers aren’t calling back, or they’re asking for several years of experience. If he doesn’t find a job in the coming months, he might apply at retailers like Target or

Why The Traits Of Female Leadership Are Better Geared For The Global Pandemic

As countries anticipate the second wave of Covid-19, recently published research provides evidence to show that countries with female leaders performed better on two significant counts; a lower number of positive Covid-19 cases and a lower number of Covid-19 related deaths. The authors of the research from the Universities of Reading and Liverpool, compared data using 194 countries dataset. Their data analysis included controls for other factors, such as GDP per capita, the population, the size of the urban population, and the proportion of elderly adults. Their findings demonstrated that Covid-19 related outcomes are systematically better in countries led by women.

Areas of differentiation, such as health expenditure, will impact results to Covid-19. Countries with a weaker health infrastructure are more likely to shut down quickly in a defensive measure, demonstrated by several developing countries, including India and South Africa. However, the decision to shut down countries quickly was not limited to regions with weaker health infrastructure but included countries like Germany and Taiwan, both led by women. Other factors, including countries more open to international travel, also demonstrated better performance. While these countries experienced a similar number of Covid-19 cases to other nations open to international travel, the subsequent deaths in countries with female leaders were noticeably lower.

The results are compelling; in terms of the absolute number of Covid-19 cases and deaths, which demonstrated that countries with male-leaders experienced double the number of fatalities than female-led countries. The adjusted data on Covid-19 related factors until 19th May 2020 (for many countries, the height of the first wave) revealed the average number of cases for male-led countries was 26,333. In contrast, for women-led countries, the average number of cases was 16,806. In terms of deaths, the average number of deaths was 1,994 in male-led countries compared with 1,056.

The gender differences in leadership explain the variances in the results, particularly the way in which female leaders make decisions. Speaking to one of the authors, Professor Uma Kambhampati, we discussed the differentiating factors that led to these results. Leaders of countries with lower rates of Covid-19 acted more decisively and quickly; Kambhampati argues, “the issue is the women politicians seem to figure out very early on that there was an issue for lives, and irrespective of what was happening to the economy, it was essential to shut down quickly and decisively.” Women have a lower threshold for ambiguity, which is different from risk. The impact of Covid-19 has thrown up complex

Athletes face emotional blow as pandemic uproots college sports

Early mornings, late nights, countless hours of training. And now, perhaps nothing to show for it.

a group of people standing in front of a crowd: Along with the men's and women's swim teams, Dartmouth discontinued men's and women's golf, and men's lightweight rowing.

© Provided by Connor LaMastra
Along with the men’s and women’s swim teams, Dartmouth discontinued men’s and women’s golf, and men’s lightweight rowing.

That’s a glimpse at the uncertainty for college athletes across the country who have had seasons derailed. In some cases, their programs have even been cut altogether as schools react to the health risks and financial ripples of COVID-19.

The pandemic has shaken the college sports scene to its core, dealing an emotional blow to athletes as they’re forced to stay on their toes about the status of their careers.

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Some college football conferences have made a loud return to action, but many athletes in lower revenue sports – the runners, swimmers, golfers, and soccer players – are still waiting to take the field or hear if they’ll be able to compete again.

Many athletic conferences have pushed non-football fall sports to the spring. But with CDC director Dr. Robert Redfield saying a vaccine won’t be widely available until mid-2021, even that timeframe could make it difficult to restart sports en masse while keeping everyone safe.

College football and COVID-19: A big, disjointed experiment exposes scientific, political gaps

Between the decisions made by schools, conferences, local and state officials or the CDC itself, the fates of so many athletic careers rest in the hands of higher powers.

Some students have already been dealt disappointing results.

‘A total slap in the face’

Wrestlers at Old Dominion, swimmers at UConn and baseball players at Boise State are all in the same boat. So are athletes from 11 different athletic programs at Stanford and seven different teams at George Washington.

They’re among the dozens of programs that have been cut by colleges this year, leaving athletes with a nerve-wracking decision: To stay at their school or transfer to continue playing the sport they love.

Connor LaMastra is one of those athletes.

He spent his junior swimming season littering his name across the Dartmouth record books. He broke school records in three individual events. He was on the fastest 800-yard freestyle relay in program history. And after delivering what he called his most successful conference championships as an individual, he was named captain for the 2020-2021 season.

The stage had been set for LaMastra – a swimmer since he was 5 years old – to have a senior season he could cherish when his swimming days were over.

a person swimming in the water: Connor LaMastra was named captain for the Dartmouth swim team before the program was abruptly cut.

© Provided by Connor LaMastra
Connor LaMastra was named captain for the Dartmouth swim team before the program was abruptly cut.

When administrators scheduled a mid-summer Zoom call with athletes from five athletic programs, swimming included, LaMastra thought they might learn their season was canceled. But the news was heavier than that.

Dartmouth cut the swimming and diving programs completely. Men’s and women’s golf and men’s lightweight rowing were done too, effective

CSU sees 12% drop in freshman enrollment during pandemic, but online education surging

Enrollment at Colorado State University is down in multiple categories — freshmen, undergraduates, international students and first-generation students — though the number of people signing up for online education has risen, a reflection of student behavior during the COVID-19 era, university officials said Friday.

Total enrollment on the Fort Collins campus decreased 3.6%, with a total headcount of 27,835 this fall, and 3.3% at the Pueblo campus, for a total of 3,716 students this semester.

“Remarkably during a pandemic year, CSU Pueblo increased student retention more than at any time in the last decade (a 5 percentage point increase) and CSU in Fort Collins held steady, retaining 85.3% of its 2019 freshman class, exactly the same percentage as the previous year when COVID-19 was not a factor,” CSU officials said in a news release.

The Fort Collins campus welcomed 23,590 undergraduates this fall, a 4.1% decline from last year with most of that decrease in numbers of new freshmen.

Freshman enrollment decreased more than 12%, from 5,204 last year to 4,556 this year.

Deferrals — when an accepted student asks the university to hold their place for up to a year — more than doubled, with 750 students requesting to defer this semester versus about 300 last year.

Similarly, enrollment and the number of students who deferred declined at the University of Colorado Boulder, where freshmen enrollment also dipped around 12% and deferrals skyrocketed.

CSU’s online enrollment saw a marked increase as students weighed whether coming to campus in the midst of a pandemic was the right choice for them.

Preliminary numbers for CSU Global’s fall trimester reflect a nearly sixfold increase in international enrollment in online degrees — from 73 students to 433. CSU Pueblo’s online-only enrollment shot up 67% from last year and the Fort Collins campus’s online program increased 37% among undergraduates from last year.

Enrollment among first-generation students is down 6.7%, or 404 students, compared to a 3.3% decrease in non-first-generation students.

“CSU is known for its strong commitment — across all our campuses — to supporting students who are the first in their families to go to college, and we’re concerned to see that first-generation student enrollment at our Fort Collins campus is down this year by nearly twice that of non-first-generation students,” said CSU System’s Chief Academic Officer Rick Miranda in the news release. “The impact of the pandemic recession is taking a toll on these students and their families, and we need to continue to focus on how we can support these students in pursuing their academic goals.”

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