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* We updated this PDF to a newer edition of the study.  Please forgive this change and please enjoy the report. 

  • Cyrus Beschloss

The rising generation is inexplicably optimistic



A ruthless pandemic. A twitchy job market. Mile-deep racial fissures coming into sharper focus. There's slim evidence to suggest the kids are alright.


But that's exactly what they're saying.


Millions of young people are giving the COVID classroom another crack, and with the fresh start, it's worth studying how rising college Freshmen - at 2-year, 4-year, and technical colleges - feel about their world and futures.


Generation Lab partnered with NBC News to launch the NBC News/Generation Lab Poll of students in the United States.


Our goal: study big issues in America that we can't stop talking about:

  • Issues like: Politics, health, trust in leaders, media and government, social issues, job and the economy.


Here's what we found

  • Incoming college Freshmen are wildly optimistic about their own futures, but pessimistic about the United States and the world.

  • They trust proximity. Local news, town officials and even local police.

  • Their support for certain polarizing social liberties far outpaces older generations', particularly on issues like sexual orientation, gender identity and abortion.

  • More +


Read the full report