Gen Z Reveals How the Pandemic Has Affected Their Social, Career and Mental Health Views in New Pearson Global Learner Survey

College students gained an increased interest in social and civic issues, reconsidered career aspirations, and gained mental resilience despite global pandemic

LONDON, 26 May 2021 — Pearson, the world's leading learning company, released the results from the first installment of the 2021 Global Learner Survey Series – a study that explores how the pandemic impacted what college students learned in and beyond the classroom. Over the past year, students globally have experienced countless hurdles in their education since the onset of the pandemic. This study reveals that for Gen Z, learning has taken on many forms globally due to altered societal, career, and long-term mental health views. The study dives into what Gen Z has gained as a result of this educational shift and how it will impact their plans for the future.

"The results of this year’s Global Learner Survey showcased that while students around the world have faced adversity with shifts in education, they’ve gained life skills – both social and educational, that opened their eyes to the importance of continued perseverance, finding silver linings, and reassessing future paths based on those new skills,” said Mickey Revenaugh, co-founder of Pearson’s Connections Academy. "It’s inspiring to see that despite the difficulties brought on by the pandemic, Gen Z has remained resilient and is determined to not let it hold them back any further.”

Increased Empathy Drives a Spike in Civic Responsibility

Gen Z is already known for their strong political activism and this study reveals that during the pandemic they’ve learned empathy and gained a new appreciation for the struggles of others. As students around the world experienced a major virtual transition, they have an increased interest in social or civic issues, such as racial, education, and healthcare equality.

  • 67% of college students report an increased interest in social or civic issues with 85% of college students saying they gained a new appreciation for the struggles of others.
  • 63% of college students report an increased interest in racial equality, 53% in education equality and 52% in healthcare equality.
  • 87% of college students report the belief that internet access is a basic human right and 92% believe governments should be doing more to provide it.

Societal Awareness Sparks New Perspectives on Life and Career

Gen Z has gained some new viewpoints on their career paths – a growing entrepreneurial spirit and considerations to jump into industries that were particularly influenced by the pandemic.

  • 56% of college students are reconsidering their career path.
  • 45% of college students have been inspired to consider a career in healthcare and science due to the pandemic.
  • 53% of college students are interested in being an entrepreneur and starting their own business.
  • 72% of college students have found a new sense of urgency for completing their education.

Mental Health Takes a Front Seat Amidst a Surge of Anxiety Brought on by Global Health and Diversity Issues

While the pandemic has been an emotional burden on college students, they see themselves becoming better and stronger through self-motivation, adaptability, and new personal skills.

  • 69% of college students say the disruption to their education has been a serious source of stress, anxiety, mental health issues, and financial hardship.
  • 80% of college students say their generation will become more resilient because of the diversity faced during the pandemic.
  • More than two-thirds of college students say they've grown as a person, with self-motivation, adaptability and emotional resiliency being the top skills gained.
  • 66% of college students say they have developed new hobbies during the pandemic with reading, gaming, and cooking among the top three.

Full results can be found online at:


This poll was conducted from April 28 – May 12, 2021, among a sample of 2,000 college students in 4 countries: Brazil, China, United Kingdom, United States. The interviews were conducted online. Results in each country are representative of the online population of that country with a margin of error of plus and minus 2 percentage points.

About Pearson

Learning is the most powerful force for change in the world. More than 20,000 Pearson employees deliver our products and services in nearly 200 countries, all working towards a common purpose – to help everyone achieve their potential through learning. We do that by providing high quality, digital content and learning experiences, as well as assessments and qualifications that help people build their skills and grow with the world around them. We are the world’s leading learning company. Learn more at

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