This year's return to school will be like no other and students are confident and optimistic, according to our partner Academos' consultation of a large number of young Quebecers. Over 1,000 students aged 14 to 30 from across Quebec took the online survey. A similar survey in the spring had sounded the alarm over a marked decline in motivation after the COVID-19 lockdown and resulting school closures.

For the most part, the respondents were optimistic, with an average motivation level of 7.1 out of 10. Over 65% of respondents ranked their motivation at 7 or higher out of 10, on a scale where 0 was "not at all motivated" and 10 was "extremely motivated." In the spring survey, conducted in May when schools were closed, students' average motivation level was 4.1 out of 10.

"The resilience of the younger generation is truly impressive, particularly this year. Even with all the uncertainty, they're prepared to roll up their sleeves and work toward their goals," said Guy Cormier, President and CEO of Desjardins Group and mentor with Academos. "Seeing these results, I'm even more committed to supporting students and making sure they have the resources they need to thrive and develop their full potential."

"Even though the spring school closures took a toll on students' motivation, they appear to be generally enthusiastic and optimistic about returning to school this fall, as unusual as things may be," said Catherine Légaré, President and Founder of Academos. "However, since schools will never be exactly the same they were before the pandemic, it's now more important than ever to pull together and keep working to ensure that students remain motivated throughout the year."

Despite the encouraging results of the Academos survey, participants did still express feelings of stress and anxiety about returning to the classroom.

"I'm feeling a little stressed because I don't know what the return to school will be like."

"My first year of university starts in the fall and I'm excited, but a little stressed about how my social life will be affected because all my classes will be online."

"I think the pandemic means that classes will very different. But I'm sure schools are doing everything they need to do so we can return in the fall. It will just be different!"

"I'm a little worried, but I'm prepared to work hard!"

"The start of this new school year will be critical for students. Let's be there for them, listen to them and encourage them. Let's live up to their expectations and make the adjustments we need to better support them," added Guy Cormier.

Better prepared for a potential second lockdown

54% of respondents say they feel better prepared for distance learning, compared to the first wave of COVID-19 infections, if schools are forced to close again because of a second wave, while 23% say they don't feel any better prepared now than in the spring.

Among factors that could help them stay motivated, respondents mentioned the feeling that what they're learning will be useful for their future profession (54%), having access to more fun and engaging learning methods (47%), and having clear, short-term objectives (45%). They also believe that a lack of information on the return to school (57%) and anxiety about the future (53%) could negatively influence their motivation levels.

Knowing that having meaningful professional goals is an important motivating factor for students, Academos helps 22,000 young people every year with their career choices by connecting them with professionals who have wisdom to impart about their chosen field. Over 3,000 mentors are available via Academos's free app to respond to questions submitted by students age 14 to 30.

To further motivate and inspire young Quebecers, Academos will be offering a virtual tour of secondary schools and CEGEPs this fall. The tour will include talks by 2 comedians with big followings among young people who will share their own school and work experiences. Full event details will be announced on Academos's social media platforms on September 9.

Survey methodology and sampling
The online survey was created by Academos in collaboration with Desjardins. It was sent to 89,366 newsletter subscribers age 14 to 30 and was also posted on the organization's Facebook page. The results were compiled between August 18 and 20, 2020.

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