Fun Data Facts for Back-to-School

posted on August 23, 2023 by Will Mapp, III

“It’s the most wonderful time of year.”

It’s that time of year again. Back-to-school! That sound you hear are the groans from American kids as they say goodbye to long summer days and late night streaming. The 76 million students saying hello to paper, pencils, and books at America’s public and private schools are entering a new school year with old traditions, and new challenges. While kids are clawing to hold onto their remaining days of freedom, parents are scrambling to track down school supplies and equip their children for a brave new world.


The vast majority of America’s students are enrolled in public schools. Depending on where your kids live, they may go back to school in the middle of the summer. A majority of American students go back before Labor Day, a whopping 76% of kids have part of their prime summer holiday months cut off. 62% of those kids are returning to class between July 23rd and August 23rd.

School enrollment figures may sound impressive in a country with 360 million people. Looking more closely at the data, however, shows that K-12 enrollment is down in the United States. One year after the start of the pandemic, enrollment was down by 120,000 students. As students began to return to school, many administrators were expecting a bump, but that didn’t happen. No increase in post-COVID 1st grade enrollment indicates parents weren’t holding back kindergarteners due to COVID fears. There were no kindergarteners to enroll. The U.S. enrolls 19 million college students – almost 25% of our total student enrollment. A higher educated public tends to produce fewer children, and administrators are forecasting an enrollment crisis for K-12 education following the college enrollment crisis.


Americans seldom do anything on a small scale. Parents, and I guess a few students, are expecting to spend $135 billion on school shopping. Target and Wal-Mart are happy to accept $140 per student on school supplies. Kids can’t go back-to-school wearing their summer cutoffs. They need cool threads to stand apart while fitting in. Back-to-school sales and deals will entice US parents to spend $524 on clothes and shoes per child for those 1st Day of school photos.

Even though many school districts are heavily integrating technology in school classrooms, there’s nothing like coming to class with your very own TI-85 calculator. Electronics and computers are expected to account for $325 of a student’s school supplies budget.


It seems we were just talking about 2023’s graduating class entering a ChatGPT world, and now we embark on a new cohort with fewer students and newer challenges. This fall’s class, and their instructors, will struggle together to figure out how to integrate generative AI and increasingly powerful technologies in traditional education.  Education has always been challenging and a good education should be. This year’s class have more challenges and more opportunity. I wish good luck to the Class of 2024, and a reprieve for their parents.

Back to school infographic

about the author

Will Mapp

As Chief Technology Officer, Will Mapp keeps a constant eye on the future and ensures Qlarant is at the forefront of the latest and emerging technologies. See all posts from Will Mapp, III.

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