Teen Health 411
Teen Health 411

Back-to-School Basics

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Here are some interested facts from the National Center for Education Statistics. Nearly 56 million elementary and secondary students (which includes 1.1 million homeschoolers, and 6 million attending the private schools) are heading off to about 97,000 public school and 28,000 private schools within a couple of weeks. Before the school year is out $489 billion will have been spent related to the education of those kids, including the salaries of the 3.5 million teachers.

74% of the kids attending public high schools will graduate with a diploma within four years, and 69% of high school grads will go on to attend a 2-year or 4-year college (which is up from 49% in 1972). There are about 18 million undergraduate students attending college this year supporting about 1.3 million faculty. The average cost of a 4-year undergraduate education in the United States is $15,100 a year.

As an academic, back-to-school has to be one of my favorite times of the year. I love the supplies, textbooks, locker decorating, uniforms or new clothes, excitement about the first day, learning how to get along with teachers, the start of the sports seasons, and the rhythm of the school week. Not only are there supplies and books to get prepared, there are likely also some habits that most teens need to change so they can get enough sleep and do their best in school.

The first thing most teens have to do is start going to bed earlier so they can get up early enough to get to school with a breakfast and a positive attitude. Teens need about 9 hours a sleep, and many do not get it without making a real effort. The next challenge is probably lunches, which most teens probably do not make themselves, but would be better off bringing from home than eating at school. As teens start being responsible for more of their lives, I think we as parents sometimes forget to remind them that life goes better and they feel better if they take care of the basics - getting enough exercise and sleep as well as eating healthy.

Finally, with school getting going, teens have to find enough time to do homework, build the college application with sports, music, community services, and work, while squeezing in some meaningful quality time with friends and family. Good luck with that - it seems to be a never ending struggle! Any way, good luck with this coming school year! Make the best of every chance you have, and enjoy every minute!

Photo Credit: goatling

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About the Author

Dr. Brown is a developmental psychologist specializing in adolescent health.

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