Back to School by the Numbers

The 2015-2016 school season has already begun. The first students started appearing back at school as early as June 29. Today, nearly 15 states have schools back in session.

Back-to-school timing varies by state and region. For education marketers, knowing when schools are back in session can play a pivotal role in honing school marketing programs. For your convenience, we’ve prepared a walk through of MCH forecasted back-to-school statistics – progressing from July 13 through Labor Day.

Note: Teachers often revisit the classrooms as early as two weeks before the school doors officially open.  That back-to-desk time can be a valuable time to connect with educators.

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By the week of July 13, seven states already had students back in school. In two states, roughly 2% of the student population was enrolled.

Week of July 13

Last week (July 20), nine states had active schools. Nearly 9% of Arizona students back at their desks.

Week of July 20

MCH Forcasted Back to School Data

This week (July 27) more than 18% of students in three states are back at their desks. 15 states should now have open schools.

Week of July 27

This map view provides an interesting glimpse. You can see the bulk of returning students are in the lower half of the US. That only expands in the coming weeks until the North finally catches up close to Labor Day.

By the week of August 3, five states will have enrolled more than 50% of their students. In three states – in MS, AZ, and TN, over 85% of students are back in the classrooms.

By August 10, eleven states will have more than 75% of the students enrolled. 12 million students will be back in school – that’s over 25% of the total US student enrollment. Note: the majority are in the lower half and middle of the country.

Week of August 10

By the week of August 17, a number of Midwestern states will have 100% of their schools open. 22 million students will be back in school. August 24, that number jumps to 34 million – nearly ¾ of all students.

Week of August 17

By Labor Day, Northeastern states will join the mix bringing the total percentage up to 95%. The balance fills in through September 14.

Week of August 31

Marketers Leverage Back-to-School Timing

A number of bright circulation managers, deeply familiar with these trends, are mailing catalogs regionally based on back-to-school schedules. At times, they combine mailings with a series of supporting email deployments before, during, and after anticipated catalog delivery. They use email to increase frequency, drive greater awareness and potentially increase catalog response rates.

Other marketers use a series of targeted email communications as a means of engaging educators during that brief period when they are back quietly planning and anticipating students’ return. Their hope is to establish interest prior to the flood of post Labor Day communications and classroom distractions.

I often use email as a tool to hone messages and offers prior to comitting to a control in other channels. Because nearly 80% of results typically occur within the first 24 to 48 hours, there is ample opportunity to gather valuable intel before the school market has fully returned.

If you have the capacity to conduct regional marketing programs or are interested in some quick feedback to sharpen your back-to-school communications, these next three weeks can be an excellent time to try some tests.


Want to learn more? Our data experts are happy to strategize with you – 800-776-6373