Back-To-School: It's Not Easy Being Teen

August 11, 2017 | By Sasha Ganeles, Planner

Ah, back-to-school. A time when kids weep, parents quietly rejoice, and brands rush to fill the void with new products. If it’s been awhile since you’ve ended a summer by picking out some sick new notebooks, here’s the 411: school is way different than you remember.

How much has technology penetrated the classroom? What’s even cool, anyway? And how are brands getting in on the action? How are schools teaching the next generation to think and solve problems? And do kids still walk to school uphill both ways? We may not remember trigonometry, but we can still count – so here’s a rundown of back-to-school by the numbers.



Back To School




30,000,000 - The number of schoolchildren Google claims use their education apps like Docs and Gmail – gone are the days when using Microsoft Paint in class was a thrilling, high-tech treat. But there’s controversy surrounding how the tech giant gains access to kids early on, acquiring future customers and mountains of data.

2016 - The year President Obama announced his proposal to make every student literate in computer code. Will it be the end of our long-running status as the most mediocre education system in the world?

1341 - Walmart store #1341 mistakenly placed a back-to-school sign reading “Own the school year like a hero” above a gun display case, sparking outrage from the public. With a recent spike in school shootings, there’s no room for jokes about school safety.

$688 - Average amount parents are spending for each kid on back-to-school. Almost half of shoppers are putting that cash towards a laptop, but glitzy notebooks and tech-enabled backpacks are where the real money is being made.

300% - Increase in high schoolers attending summer school over the past 20 years. This increase is part of why the majority of teens now don’t hold a summer gig. Where have all the burger flippers gone?

$219.95 - The price of a bag recommended by The Verge as essential college gear. We hope the owner of this bag is prepared to eat instant ramen every night.

85% - Will invest more in their back-to-school marketing efforts this year compared to 2016. The competition is heating up.

81% - Retailers that will offer more deals on back-to-school in 2017 than 2016.

70% - New York City’s high school graduation rate in 2016, the highest ever. However, great disparities in graduation rates remain between white students and minorities.

70% - Percentage of elementary and middle school kids subjected to junk food advertising while at school. And these kids are more likely to consume more calories after viewing these ads.

$20K - The amount of cash a kid(‘s parents) could spend to pull off an insanely extravagant prom night this year. We take heart in knowing our old embarrassing photos are priceless.

20% - Students that are living with a mental health disorder in a given year. This amount has been steadily increasing since the 1990s, as kids are facing more stress around school performance as well as pressure and bullying from social media.

$10M - Funds raised by Brightwheel, a startup whose mobile app aims to help pre-K teachers and care providers manage their business, while sending parents updates about their kids throughout the school day. Because parent teacher conferences are so last century.

5 - The age of a girl who built robots that solve real world problems. The organization 10x Education designed a new framework and curriculum that asks kids K-12 ‘what problem do you want to solve and what do you want to build now’ rather than ‘what do you want to be when you grow up’.

3 - Number of months in the back-to-school shopping, the longest of any other shopping timeframe. And it’s not just new pencils and the hot new lunchbox anymore.

2 - Netflix’s rank among the top 10 coolest brands according to teens. But if they want to hold onto their subscriptions, they better hope their parents don’t find out what Netflix & Chill means.

1 - Number of Snapchats about students that got an Ohio teacher fired. Social media walks - and often oversteps - the fragile barrier line between faculty and students. Gone are the days when seeing your teacher buying beer in the grocery store was the most personal encounter possible.