4 Key Takeaways from Most Recent Question The Quo Data

April 1, 2024

ECMC Group’s Question The Quo public awareness campaign, launched in 2020 with support from ECMC Foundation, was developed to empower learners of all ages—particularly Gen Z teens—to explore the numerous postsecondary education options available and take the path that is right for them. The campaign is grounded in national survey data collected from high school students ages 14-18 that has sought to gain perspectives about their future education and career goals. ECMC Group has conducted multiple surveys of these students over the past several years to capture their ever-changing viewpoints.  

In January 2023, ECMC Group fielded a seventh national Question The Quo Education Pulse survey—the fourth annual study since the public awareness campaign launched. The latest research coincided with the official end of the COVID-19 national emergency in the United States and the return to classrooms that reflected the pre-pandemic environment. The peaks and dips in the data collected from 2020-2023 are particularly significant given that the trend lines have followed the shifts in these students’ education and life experience caused by the pandemic.  

Particularly interesting is that while some trends have bounced back to pre-pandemic levels, others remained changed—a potential sign that we have entered a new era that reflects the education wants and needs of incoming generations of workers.  

Here are the four key takeaways from the most recent Question The Quo data:  

  1. Diverse pathways: More than half of the teens surveyed are open to something other than four-year college, and nearly half believe they can achieve success with education attained in three years or less. 

  1. Shorter education: Nearly one-third of teens would prefer their post-high school education to last two years or fewer. 

  1. Hands-on skills: Most teens prefer learning hands-on skills either in a lab/classroom or through on-the-job experiences. 

  1. Marketable skills: Most teens understand the importance of gaining marketable skills and learning throughout their lifetime. 

These findings suggest that Gen Z is looking for more flexible and practical education options that can help them achieve their career goals. By providing diverse postsecondary pathways, shorter programs and hands-on, marketable skills, education and workforce systems can better meet the needs of learners now and in the future. To delve deeper into the shifts, check out the most recent report that outlines the data from the Question The Quo Education Pulse Suvey here. 


To learn more about the Question The Quo campaign, and the resources that are available, check out other sections on our website.  

ECMC Group developed the Question The Quo campaign to empower high school students to explore the various postsecondary education options available and take the path that's right for them. Grounded in the results of national surveys conducted in partnership with VICE Media, Question The Quo encourages teens to evaluate education beyond high school while considering cost, parental and role model influences, and societal norms. 

Question The Quo is powered by ECMC Group, a Minneapolis-based nonprofit with a mission to help students succeed by creating, providing and financially supporting advancements in postsecondary education.