White Paper: Insights from Underserved Student Populations

March 1, 2023

ECMC Group has released the latest data from the multi-year Question The Quo Education Pulse study of Gen Z teens. With the new round of research, ECMC Group set out to capture data specifically from traditionally underserved student populations to better understand their unique perspectives and challenges. The data indicate that while these students are generally confident in their futures, high schoolers from underserved communities both want and need additional guidance and resources to make informed decisions about their postsecondary education journeys.

This paper includes the results of a survey of more than 1,000 high school students ages 14-18 from low-income, first-generation and BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and people of color) communities. Also included are highlights from 10 focus groups of individuals from similar backgrounds in high school, attending postsecondary education or not attending postsecondary education. Both projects were conducted in partnership with VICE Media.

The latest survey found that the most important factor for underserved students in deciding what to do after high school is the ability to meet their most basic needs. Teens in underserved groups want to know that they will be able to feed themselves, have access to safe housing, care for their physical and mental health, and understand and manage their finances. At the same time, only 45% believe education after high school is necessary, illustrating a significant risk for continued underrepresentation of low-income, first-generation and BIPOC students in postsecondary education.