Texas Tech University

Texas Tech Experts Share Shopping, Study Tips for Back-To-School Time

Glenys Young

August 1, 2017

Back to school

Professors available to discuss shopping for the best back-to-school deal, and what students and parents can do for the best chance for academic success.

Back to School

With the start of school just weeks away, students and parents alike may be excited – or nervous – about the return to routine.

Whether your focus is on remembering last year's lessons or figuring out how to pay for all those new clothes and supplies, Texas Tech University has some expert advice for you.

Deborah Fowler is the interim associate chair of Hospitality and Retail Management and a professor and director of the Retail Management program. She teaches category management at both the graduate and undergraduate levels and has established numerous relationships with the retail technology community. She can discuss how to get a better deal during back-to-school shopping.

Michael Serra is an associate professor and the program director for experimental psychology in the Department of Psychological Sciences. His research focuses on how students learn and study, as well as how students assess their own learning. He can discuss what students can do to have the best chance for academic success and what parents can do to support their children's education.

Deborah Fowler
Deborah Fowler


Deborah Fowler, professor and director of retail management, Texas Tech University, (806) 834-1779 or deborah.fowler@ttu.edu

Talking points

  • Make a list, stick to it and don't be swayed by flashy displays.
  • August is an important month for retailers, who rely on back-to-school shoppers to boost third-quarter sales.
  • Use your smartphone to comparison shop to ensure you're getting the best price possible.


  • "The whole point of the displays is to make you buy the things that you don't necessarily want. That's why you have the magazines and the gum at the checkout area.”
  • "Make a list and figure out exactly what you need to purchase for your children, for your family for back to school, then start checking prices.”
  • "Even when you're shopping, check prices online and see if you can get a better deal than you can in the store.”
Michael Serra
Michael Serra


Michael Serra, associate professor and director of experimental psychology,(806) 834-5134 or michael.serra@ttu.edu

Talking points

  • Children, adolescents and even college students might struggle to break their summer habits and get back into the patterns associated with the school year, but this can be overcome by simply forcing children back into the routines associated with schooling.
  • For children of any age, it is likely they have forgotten some content over the summer, especially content they barely mastered during the previous year. Staying involved in some form of school content or learning over the summer might help.
  • Get students back onto a school-like daily schedule before summer ends and the new school year begins. Wake students up early the last week or so of the summer and do something intellectual, so they are more on that time schedule when the school year actually starts.
  • Many students of all ages lack study skills and knowledge about how learning and even exams "work.” Students need to be educated much earlier on how to study, and parents might need to intervene to help guide their younger children's study behaviors for upcoming exams.


  • "Adolescents are particularly poor fits for the standard model of school scheduling utilized in the United States: their internal clocks (circadian rhythms) drive them to awaken later in the day and to stay awake later at night. This produces adolescents who are continuously tired and drowsy during the day when we expect them to be paying attention in a classroom.”
  • "As the new school year begins, adolescents who spent the summer following their natural sleep cycle might therefore be particularly upset and thrown off by suddenly needing to awaken early most days. In contrast, younger children, who have a naturally early wake cycle, might not experience much of a change as they likely woke at a similar time during the summer months.”
  • "If students don't get fully ‘out of the swing' of school, they should not struggle as much to get ‘back into the swing.' That is not to say that students need to enroll in summer school for no reason, but there are other things they can do over the summer, like working on a reading list or participating in a club or activity that relates to an academic topic.”
  • "A wealth of research in cognitive and educational psychology demonstrates that retrieval practice – actually attempting to retrieve information from memory – is critical for the long-term retention of information. Without any reason to retrieve school content over the summer, students are likely to forget it.”
  • "At younger ages, students might lose interest in a topic such as science or math because they do not know how to prepare for the exams or overestimate their learning, rather than because they truly do not have an interest or ability in the topic. Later in life, such experiences seem to be one reason that college students change their majors and even drop out of the university.”
  • "Students who truly test their learning during study reap a double reward: the effort of engaging in effortful mental activity strengthens their memory and understanding for the content, while also providing them with explicit information about which content they understand and do not understand.”

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