A new nationwide poll surveyed thousands of Generation Z voices and yielded some surprising results.
The web survey poll, developed by Gallup and the Walton Family Foundation, was conducted in spring 2023 from a sample of 3,114 subjects across fifty states and the District of Columbia.
Based on questions related to health, schooling, and personal fulfillment, results found that 76% of Gen Z are optimistic about the future and 82% believe they’ll achieve their goals.
The study defined Gen Z as those born from 1997 to 2011, a generation that encompasses 12-year-olds through adults approaching their thirties. Here are some of the most significant findings from the poll —
Young people with mentors poll higher for optimism.
The study showed that an overwhelming majority of Gen Z-ers are optimistic about the future, especially ones who had a role model in their life encouraging them to chase their ambitions.
Out of those surveyed, 32% of Gen Z said they had an adult actively supporting them in their lives. The poll showed that individuals with a mentor were more than twice as likely as their peers to believe they had a bright future ahead of them.
School-age teenagers also said that they currently felt supported in the classroom. 71% said that someone praised them for doing a good job in the last seven days and 76% of Gen Z-ers reported having a best friend at school.
Gen Z has ambition — despite feeling unprepared.
The Gallup poll also revealed that young Gen Z-ers are striving for a higher education.
In fact, 62% of middle school and high school students expressed the desire to pursue a collegiate or postsecondary degree.
Although the generation has high reports of ambition and optimism, only 44% reported that they felt prepared for their future.
Fortunately, the study also expressed that “feelings of being prepared for the future” trended upwards again for college-age Gen Z members.
Young Black Americans trend higher for optimism than their peers.
Overall, Gen Z individuals that identified as Black reported high numbers of optimism.
As illustrated in the poll, 44% of Black Gen Z-ers strongly agreed that they had a great future ahead of them. This statistic is in comparison to 30% of Hispanic and 31% of White Gen Z members who said the same.
Furthermore, 41% Black Gen Z members said that they want to start their own business one day and 40% strongly agreed with the statement: “I know I will get a good job in the future.”
Despite overt positivity, many Gen Z-ers struggle with mental health.
The study also reported that Gen Z struggles more with mental health than millennials did when they were polled at the same age a decade prior.
In 2013, 52% of millennials aged 18-26 years old rated their mental health as “excellent.” In this new study, only 15% of Gen Z in the same age group reported the same.
The study estimated that low mental wellbeing is due in part to the anxiety that teenagers harbor for gun-related violence. In fact, 40% of Gen Z students reported worrying about gun violence at their school to a moderate or severe degree.
In spite of Gen Z reporting poor mental health across the board, the study posited that “more than three in five Gen Z members” who rated their mental health as “only fair” still had optimism for the future.