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We Did a Back-to-School Survey, & the Results Were Fascinating

Jennifer Mattern

Because we’re all scientific and stuff, we decided to poll 100 kids between the ages of 12 and 23 from our Hatch program about back-to-school topics. So if you’ve ever wondered what your Gen Z and young millennial kids are thinking when it comes to going back to school after a long summer, well, keep reading.

Guess which group is excited about hitting the books? If you guessed neither, well done! Millennials (92 percent) and the slightly less gregarious Gen Z (82 percent) are most excited about catching up with classmates.

More: Must-Know Tips for Planning Your Back-to-School Shopping Trip

Young millennials and Gen Zers are excited about heading back to school for these reasons: 

  1. Seeing friends and classmates (89 percent). Well, duh.

  2. Having more freedom (61 percent). Easy there, you wild things.

  3. Taking new classes (56 percent). Academics! Our faith in humanity is restored.

  4. Participating in extracurricular activities (47 percent). Apparently, choir practice and soccer beats mowing the lawn or a summer job.

  5. Having a set schedule or routine (47 percent). Who knew today’s kids liked routine?

  6. Making new friends (45 percent). Never a bad thing.

  7. Going back-to-school shopping (44 percent). Ah, the smell of new erasers and notebooks. It still makes us swoon.

  8. Dorm or apartment life (42 percent). That’s all fine and good until there’s a passed-out frat boy stretched across your doorway.

  9. Wearing new clothes (42 percent). New duds are always fun.

  10. Getting new school supplies (38 percent). Oh, yes.

And then there’s the not-so-awesome stuff about going back to school: 

  1. Taking tests (78 percent). Who loves being tested on precalculus first thing in the morning?

  2. Waking up early (76 percent). Gen X couldn’t agree more.

  3. Doing homework (75 percent). Fair enough.

  4. Taking classes (24 percent). You know, the whole “school” part of going back to school.

  5. Eating cafeteria food (13 percent). We’re surprised this one wasn’t higher on the list.

How about back-to-school fashion? Unsurprisingly, both millennials and Gen Zers are hugely influenced by fashion trends they’re seeing on Instagram. Millennials also steal styles from their buddies more often than Gen Zers (84 percent vs. only 38 percent). Both groups say they think it’s way more important to be on trend than to be unique. (Come on, you guys, don’t be fashion sheep. We, the sweatpants-and-yoga-pants nations of Gen X and older millennials, have higher hopes for you.)

Neither Gen Zers or millennials love the brick-and-mortar store shopping thing. In fact, 17 percent of millennials we polled only shop online. Gen Z will occasionally deign to step inside a real store (none of them claimed to exclusively shop online).

As for where they like to shop, Urban Outfitters and H&M were among the overall favorites, while American Eagle and Levi’s were tops for jeans.

Makeup is big with both demographics, with Sephora, Urban Decay, Maybelline and Tarte all getting more than 40 percent approval ratings from the young people we polled.

A whopping half of teens like to post pictures of their fashion and makeup on Instagram (we’re soooo shocked — not). Why, you ask? “If I really feel great in an outfit, my confidence shows, and it’s nice to post about times when you feel great,” said one respondent.

More: 10 Life-Changing Podcasts for Teens

But others are more selective when it comes to sharing. “I send pictures to my close friends on Snapchat, but I don’t show all of my social media friends.”

Um, no, neither do we. I mean, some things are, like, totally private [immediately deletes dorky Gen X Facebook post about new outfit from Target].

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