As America prepares to celebrate Independence Day, the Youth Patriotism Index shows American students hold more patriotic opinions than many in the commentariat may want to admit, yet students seem reluctant to call themselves patriotic. 

The 2020 Youth Patriotism Index—a first-of-its-kind survey commissioned by Young America’s Foundation and released in partnership with Townhall—takes the pulse of the rising generation’s opinions of America, its institutions, and its values.

The data shows a clear divide between the opinions of high school and college students:

66% of high school students believe America is exceptional, compared to 47% of college students

55% of high school students believe America is a good example for other countries, compared to 37% of college students

70% of high school students hold a favorable view of America’s history, compared to 44% of college students

63% of high school students report feeling proud of America, compared to 40% of college students

Overall, among high school and college students, 78% view the United States favorably, which is more favorably than they view Canada, Sweden, Cuba, China, or Russia. More than half—57%—of high school and college students believe America is exceptional, while 82% hold a favorable view of the American flag. 

More than three-quarters—79%—of students are glad they live in America. Even more—83%—believe that people around the world would love the opportunity to move to the United States. 74% of students agree that America is a work in progress that is always improving itself.

Contrasting these majority-positive views, only 51% of high school and college students report being proud of America while less than half—46%—say they are patriotic. Even fewer—40%—say they are willing to sacrifice for America. Eight-in-ten students hold a favorable view of the U.S. military, yet just 34% would serve in the military if America was attacked.

“While many young people today hold positive opinions about America and its attributes, it’s clear that once a student gets to college, those positive feelings are eroded or replaced with more negative opinions about our country. High school and college students still prefer the United States to other countries, believe that our country is a work in progress, and understand the reasons people around the world want to live in America, but barely half say they’re proud of America,” noted Young America’s Foundation Spokesman Spencer Brown. “The 2020 Youth Patriotism Index suggests we ought to consider a question posed to America by Ronald Reagan: Are we doing a good enough job teaching our children what America is and what she represents in the long history of the world?”

Polling for YAF’s 2020 Youth Patriotism Index—released in partnership with Townhall—was conducted by Echelon Insights from June 21 to June 25, 2020, from a sample of 800 current high school students and 800 current college students aged 13-22. Topline data can be viewed here

For additional information or to request an interview contact YAF Spokesman Spencer Brown via or 800-872-1776.