National Survey Reveals High School and College Student Optimism About Future, Economy, Jobs Market

Though Not Happy About Prospects of More Virtual Learning

ATLANTA, GA – A new survey of more than 2,000 college and high school students, the Student Voices of America Survey conducted by the National Society of High School Scholars (NSHSS), reveals overwhelming optimism and hope.

A racially and economically diverse representation of high school and college students from all 50 states responded to 10 questions about their outlook on their education, the economy, the wellbeing of their families and friends, and their futures in light of COVID-19. The resounding sentiment is one of hopefulness and optimism in the face of the pandemic’s dramatic impact.

Strikingly, more than 80% of the 2000 respondents stated being “Very” or “Pretty” hopeful about the health of their family and friends (82%), their ability to achieve a college education (94%), graduate on time (86%), and secure a job (83%). 

When asked how they would feel if their schools were still online in the fall, a third of the students (32%) said they would rather not attend school. Roughly half (53%) said they prefer in-person classes but could deal with e-learning. "This data," said NSHSS President James Lewis, "leads me to think that students will be more willing to consider some combination of in-person and virtual learning in the future. Not every class needs a physical classroom. But at the end of the day, that personal connection to your teachers, the networking and social interactions, and the benefits of hands-on learning for some subjects will be hard to match in a virtual way."

While 54% of the students surveyed are “Not so Hopeful” or “Hopeless” about the overall U.S. economy, 68% report they are either “Very Hopeful” or “Pretty Hopeful” about our nation’s ability to overcome COVID-19.

Most students expect to be able to socialize in person again by the end of August (63%) and anticipate that things will be back to normal by the end of the year (55%). Yet, 41% don’t see a return to normalcy until sometime in 2021 or 2022.

NSHSS also asked students to share positive things that have come out of this crisis and sheltering in place. “Spending quality time with family,” “learning new skills,” “positive effects on the environment,” “sleep,” and “self-care” stood out among their responses.


The NSHSS Student Voices of America Survey was distributed to high school and college age students nationwide who are active members of NSHSS. The survey was open for one week from Saturday, April 18, 2020 to Sunday, April 26, 2020, during which time more than 2,000 students responded to the questions.

About National Society of High School Scholars (NSHSS):

NSHSS is the premier international honors and scholarship program co-founded by Claes Nobel, the senior member of the Nobel Prize family, and James Lewis. NSHSS offers a lifetime of benefits, pairing the highest performing students worldwide with high school and college scholarships, events, connections, internships, and career opportunities that begin in high school and carry on through college and careers.


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