National Back-to-School Month Facts and Figures

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After a three-month break for the summer, children from kindergarten to 12th grade return to school starting in mid-August. As such, several programs in schools, government and retail stores will have back-to-school events throughout the month of August as millions of students, teachers and parents prepare for the next school year.

As National Back-to-School month begins, here are some facts and figures surrounding the hectic month of August.

Enrollment

As of 2008, there were 48.9 million school-age children in the United States enrolled in nearly 99,000 public schools across the United States. The U.S. Census states Delaware has the fewest number of schools (236) and students (123,000). Contrarily, California has the most with nearly 10,000 public schools and over 6 million students.

Colleges have seen an uptick in student population. The Department of Education states the percentage of young adults enrolling in college has remained relatively stable at around 37 percent of the 29.5 million 18- to 24-year-olds.

California State University expounded upon numbers from the Nielsen ratings company. A school-age person will spend an average of 900 hours per year in school while around 1,500 hours watching television.

Sales Tax Holidays

Seventeen states observe some sort of sales tax holiday to help parents save money on school supplies. Although specifics in each state differ, the general idea is that a certain percentage of sales tax is waived during certain times of the year during back-to-school sales. Not only does the sales tax holiday give parents a break, but it provides an added boost for stores offering supplies at a discount.

Some states have limits on the amounts of purchases that get the discount, such as $100 on clothes or supplies. Others allow residents to buy computers and software necessary for the school year. The Federation of Tax Administrators lists the states that observe the holiday. Remember, college students need supplies too.

Open Houses & Orientations

Schools around the country will be holding open houses for parents to speak to their children's teachers. Campuses will be having freshman orientations for high school and college newcomers. Lockers will be assigned. Dorms will open in some of the nearly 7,000 colleges and universities across the United States as the fall semester arrives.

Preparing for school includes getting to know your teachers and professors. Before school starts is the perfect time to assess what to expect from them in terms of what you want to get out of the class. It's also a perfect time for parents to ask questions of their children's teachers. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, and starting the school year off right is no exception.

As National Back-to-School Month starts, remember that everybody needs to be involved in a child's educational opportunities.

William Browning is a research librarian.

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