A new poll commissioned by Young America’s Foundation (YAF)—in partnership with the The Federalist—reveals the impact coronavirus has had on the everyday lives of today’s high school and post-secondary students. The poll’s findings also reveal what Gen Z students are thinking about their lives and futures.

The YAF/Federalist poll—conducted by Echelon Insights from April 24 to 27—surveyed 800 current high school students and 800 current post-secondary students. The poll shows the rising generation is closely following America’s battle against coronavirus, and the majority of respondents—69%—are concerned that they could contract the virus. In addition, four out five young people surveyed are worried that their family members and/or friends could contract COVID-19.

Among post-secondary students, 29% reported losing their job or having their work hours cut, underscoring the pandemic’s economic impact on the next generation.

One-third of the post-secondary students polled said the institutions they attend have not dispersed refunds or offered financial credit for spring semester classes which have been suspended, cut short, and/or moved online. Nearly half of these students—48%—say they have changed their post-graduation plans as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, suggesting current disruptions will have a lasting impact on Generation Z.

Three-quarters of students surveyed said these disruptions and cancellations are necessary to keep people safe, even if they negatively impact their generation.

Opinions among students diverge when it comes to the United States’ relationship with China, and the Communist nation’s role in the coronavirus pandemic. 

When asked whether China is an ally or a threat to the United States, just 20% of high school students believe that China is an ally, compared to 33% of post-secondary students. More than 50% of high school students believe China is a threat, compared to 39% of post-secondary students.

Along similar lines, 48% of high school students say the coronavirus crisis in the U.S. is mostly China’s fault because the virus began there, and Chinese leaders covered up the severity and devastating impact of COVID-19.

However, among post-secondary students, 48% believe the coronavirus crisis in the U.S. is mostly our own government’s fault for not responding properly.

Regarding the size, scope, and role of government, today’s students think the federal government has more power today than in previous generations, and nearly half—46%—feel the federal government threatens their own personal rights and freedoms. 

More than half—54%—would rather have a smaller government with fewer government programs and lower taxes, yet 43% said we need more government programs in order to maintain our way of life over the next decade.

The poll also found:

  • 30% of students don’t feel safe expressing controversial or unpopular opinions in the classroom.
  • Most students approve of their local government’s response to coronavirus.
  • Students prioritize buying a home and making a lot of money over getting married or having children.
  • Female students, in particular, rated home ownership as a priority.
  • More than three-quarters of students believe closing schools for the remainder of the spring semester was the right call.

Read the The Federalist’s exclusive report on the poll here, and view detailed topline data on YAF’s website here

For more information or to cover this poll contact Spencer Brown via sbrown@yaf.org

Young America’s Foundation committed to ensuring that increasing numbers of young Americans understand and are inspired by the ideas of individual freedom, a strong national defense, free enterprise, and traditional values. As the principal outreach organization of the Conservative Movement, the Foundation introduces thousands of American youth to these principles. For more than 50 years, YAF has accomplished this mission by providing essential conferences, seminars, educational materials, internships, and speakers to young people across the country. Young America’s Foundation stepped forward to save President Reagan’s Western White House, Rancho del Cielo, in the spring of 1998 to preserve it as a living monument to Ronald Reagan to pass on his ideas to future generations.