Pandemic Impacts

Nearly 1 in 5 Teens Factoring Remote Work into Their University and Career Plans, Survey Shows

Schools going remote during the pandemic may have been seen by adults as a temporary solution, but for many students, it has changed the way they are thinking about and planning for their futures in post-secondary education, careers, and where they will live, a new survey shows.

The Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics last month polled 1,000 16- to 18-year-old students in the United States and the United Kingdom and surveyed their teachers as well, asking about how remote learning during the pandemic has affected their plans for after high school, according to a news release. Those polled were participants in SIAM’s MathWorks Math Modeling Challenge, an annual online intensive math competition.

A majority of students surveyed, 58%, said they foresee their future careers will involve hybrid work — a combination of remote and in-person. Nearly one in five, 19%, responded that whether they could work remotely is a factor in considering what to study after high school and what career fields to pursue.

Just over a third (37%) of respondents said that if remote work is an option in their chosen career, they would base their decision on where to live on the lifestyle or experience, not where their future employer is located.

Other Key Findings: Career Planning

  • 59% of students responding said they are concerned about the mental health impacts of an increasingly remote workforce.
  • 59% believe that remote or hybrid work’s reduction of human interaction might make teamwork and “office culture” more elusive or difficult.
  • 40% said they are concerned that working at home could result in working more hours online on job tasks.
  • 26% expressed concern that working at home would make it more difficult to benefit from a mentor and to get promoted.
  • 21% said they are concerned that an increase in remote careers — with no requirements for employees to be located near the employer — would make the job market more competitive, while 40% saw the growth in remote work as expanding their potential job options.
  • 47% said remote work opening the potential for more flexibility in work schedules could boost job satisfaction.
  • 46% said they believe remote work’s elimination of commuting time would improve work-life balance.
  • 40% said remote work will help the environment as fewer commuters translates to a smaller carbon footprint.

Other Key Findings: Education

  • 55% of students responding said remote or hybrid learning made them feel less prepared. Of those, the majority (63%) attributed to difficulties staying focused when learning online.
  • 32% said the remote school experiences they’ve had since 2020 has left them worrying that they’re unprepared for a university workload.
  • 55% of high school teachers responding said they’d graded more leniently during the pandemic and remote instruction.
  • 64% of teachers said their graduating seniors are less prepared for post-secondary education than students who graduated before the pandemic.

The M3 Challenge, in its 17th year, invites thousands of U.S. and U.K. high school juniors and seniors to use math modeling to quantify real-world problems and devise solutions. Eight finalist teams of 14 students apiece were selected in February’s opening round and will participate in the competition’s final event in New York City on April 25, according to a news release from SIAM.

This year’s competition challenged students to use math modeling to “predict the future of remote work, from analyzing the percent of jobs that are remote-ready and whether workers in those jobs will be willing or able to work remotely, to determining the percentage of workers who will go remote in a given city or metro area,” SIAM said. More than $100,000 in scholarships will be awarded to the winners of the challenge, which is sponsored by MathWorks.

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About the Author

Kristal Kuykendall is editor, 1105 Media Education Group. She can be reached at [email protected].