Kaplan Test Prep Survey: High School Students Express Increased Interest in Activism and Prefer to Attend a College Where Fellow Students Share the Same Politics

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New York, NY (March 21, 2018) — A Kaplan Test Prep survey of more than 500 teens finds that 76 percent of future college students are more interested in topics related to politics, social justice, and/or activism than they were two years ago*. The survey results also suggest that this age group prioritizes group affinity, with 61 percent saying that it’s important for them to attend a college or university where their fellow students generally share the same political beliefs as they do.

The results come during a time of student activism not seen in decades. March 14’s National School Walkout, organized to memorialize the victims of the Parkland, FL high school massacre and call for stronger gun control/safety laws, attracted the participation of hundreds of thousands of teens across the country — and Kaplan’s survey showed that many did so even at personal risk, as 46 percent who said they were participating were intent on doing so even if it hurt their chances of getting into college. Hundreds of thousands of students are also expected to participate in March For Our Lives events, also calling for stricter gun laws, on March 24, throughout the country. Additionally, another National School Walkout is scheduled for April 20, the 20th anniversary of the Columbine high school shooting.

Students shared the following perspectives on why their interest is higher today:

  • “Current events such as the tragic Parkland high school shooting have opened my eyes and pushed me to invest time to learn about issues. Learning more about the government and society now will benefit and prepare me for the challenges I will face on my journey to give my generation a greater future.”
  • “The issues that I would always only hear about before have suddenly become much more relevant. This is true especially for gun control, which no longer seems like a distant issue but instead a very real and pertinent one. It is also true in terms of sexism, which is something that I am increasingly aware of as I age.”
  • “There has just been a lot of controversy going on politically, especially after the election, and I am starting to realize the impact young people can have.”
  • “As I’ve grown up, I’ve gained more knowledge about politics and ongoing issues around me. Many of my friends are as invested as I am, and we’re also exposed to a lot of different opinions through social media. I’ve also become more interested because I’m going to vote for the first time this upcoming November.”
  • “In recent years, I’ve become more aware about how politics affects me and my family personally, and what it means for my future. I’ve seen more social injustices in the past year than in my entire life.”

“While the tragic Parkland school shooting was a galvanizing point, we’ve seen a few trends leading to the newfound activism among teens including a greater interest in social and political issues, native engagement with social media, and the rise of teenage social media influencers. Today’s teens have not only the passion but the tools, platforms and digital savvy to channel and amplify their voices quickly, at an unprecedented scale,” said Yariv Alpher, executive director of research, Kaplan Test Prep. “Our survey results show reasons to be inspired and reasons to be cautious. It’s heartening to see that a strong majority of teens are newly engaged and actively invested in broader social issues. But with many teens reflecting a desire to attend a college where fellow students share their political views, we hope that will not hamper openness and willingness to engage with others in a constructive exchange of views and ideas. Regardless, the bottom line is certainly a positive one: today’s teenagers are becoming active, engaged citizens.”

For a short video illustrating Kaplan’s survey results, click here.

*567 high school students from across the United States who took a Kaplan SAT® course were polled by email between March 12-13, 2018.

SAT® is a trademark registered and/or owned by the College Board, which was not involved in the production of, and does not endorse, this product.

About Kaplan Test Prep

Kaplan Test Prep (www.kaptest.com) is a premier provider of educational and career services for individuals, schools and businesses. Established in 1938, Kaplan is the world leader in the test prep industry. With a comprehensive menu of online offerings as well as a complete array of print books and digital products, Kaplan offers preparation for more than 100 standardized tests, including entrance exams for secondary school, college and graduate school, as well as professional licensing exams for attorneys, physicians and nurses. Kaplan also provides private tutoring and graduate admissions consulting services.

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