Campus Counting

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Written by: Director Robert Groves

Yesterday I met with the state of Ohio Complete Count Committee in Columbus. Like all CCCs, they’ve taken on the job of getting the word out about the census – in this case to all the diverse groups in the state. One great idea they’re pursuing involves college students, a group that is traditionally undercounted. Based on past censuses, college students sometimes a) think they’re being counted in the parents’ home (not the rules of the census), and b) find they’re too busy to remember to complete the form. College students should be counted where they usually live, whether that’s in a dormitory or off-campus housing.

The Ohio Complete Count Committee plans to use universities’ email services to alert all students on the email system to complete their forms at their usual residence. This sounds like a good idea and we’re hopeful it will nudge students toward participation.

The Boston census office told me about a competition among the many universities in that city to determine which school has the highest return rate of completed questionnaires. This idea also sounds promising.

Now, if we can get Mom and Dad not to feel compelled to include their college kids back at their house!

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22 Responses to Campus Counting

  1. Emily B. says:

    I agree with this idea. College students are an important faction of the population who may not be counted in the upcoming census. I think that all states should follow the example of the Ohio Complete Count Committee. Alerting college students through their email service is an effective way of getting them to participate in the census. I also think the idea the Boston census office proposed is an inventive way of getting students to participate in the census. I think that universities should offer some form of incentive to increase student participation in the census, such as discounted sporting event or concert tickets; something that would interest college students and incite them to take the time out to fill out the census. I also think that some census offices and colleges may look to social networking sites to reach out to students. Sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Myspace and Youtube are reliable ways to reach a large audience of college students. Creating a Facebook group or page or a Youtube video encouraging students to fill out the census are only some examples of how these sites can be used. College students frequent social networking sites, and using them can also be more effective than email because some students may disregard mail concerning the census as “spam”. Hopefully, more census committees will keep college students in mind to ensure that the best representation of the population is counted in the upcoming census.

  2. Melanie D. says:

    I feel that getting college students involved in the census is a very good idea. College students make up a large percent of the population and they deserve to be included in the census. Most college students also want to be more independent and start doing things for themselves to prepare them for real life situations that they will have to face in the future. Many college students that go away and live in dormitories or in their own apartments assume that their parents will fill one out for them but in reality, they are living on their own elsewhere and should be liable to fill out their own census. I also agree with Emily that alerting college students through their email service is an effective was of getting them to participate. Most students in college aren’t going to remember to do the census and are bust with their own lives and tremendous amounts of work that they probably wouldn’t remember to do this. By emailing them they are notified and reminded to take a few minute to fill out the census. Colleges should also educate and inform their students about the census and why it is important to fill it out. If the students have a better understanding of how the census works and how it benefits our country, they will be more encouraged to participate and fill it out. I also feel that they should be offered a reward or have a motivation for participating in the census so that more people are represented in the upcoming census.

  3. Theresa B. says:

    We can all say that it is a hard task to get everyone in the nation to do what they are supposed to do. People have many excuses to not do it like they are too busy, they don’t really matter, or they just forgot. Americans need to realize how much the 10 year census is crucial. Not only does the number of representatives your state has depends on it, but so does the community. The community will receive more money for more people. The money will be given for hospitals, schools, or centers, etc. Also the questions on the census will tell the federal government what type of area you’re in. It allows them to know how diverse your area is. I think they have a good plan targeting college students. So many more people are going off to college. If they keep targeting college students, every 10 years there will be a new bunch. They did state a valid point that most of them will probably put it aside or will think it is not important. The fact that they are trying to make it a competition is great. Students, especially young adults, love competing against other rivals. Maybe there can even be some sort of prize for the college that has the most participation. If it works out in Ohio, maybe every state should try it. I have to agree with what Emily said about social networking. If students see other people doing it and that it is on their favorite websites they will probably be more in favor. Also Emily makes a good point about the emails might be going right to spam. I know that when I see something unfamiliar I do not open it or delete it. If they are more aware of what it is and how it affects them, then they might actually do it. And for the parents maybe they will do it if they hear that their college student has done something for the government and community.

  4. Amanda M says:

    I think that it is a great idea to target college students in this census. Students going off to college go way to be “independent” and to live on their own away from parents. I think by in cluding them will only make them feel even more like adults. Another great reason to give college students their own data sheet is to see how many people are actually in the younger generation. As America could see, the younger generation always plays a crucial role in elections. By completing this survey, this will help future candidates realize how important the younger generation is. I also think it is a great idea to have a competition through universities. If this data is available through universities, this may help them when they are recruiting for new students. They would know which areas to target and which age group to target. This will not only benefit the university but the nation as well. Also what Emily said about using an e-mail alert system, I think that it is a great way to get students involved. Students now are always on the computer or using some form of technology and I think that this is a great way for students to become aware. Using e-mail is the quickest and most effective way toensure that college students will participate in the census. The only problem is that what if a student goes to an out-of-state college, would they be considered to live where there college is located or where their hometown is?

  5. Peppe I. says:

    I really like the idea of using universities’ email services to get in touch with college students because they make up a noticeable portion of the population. Having college students under counted could really hurt the amount of funds a community will receive out of the $400 billion. The excuse that students are using that they are too busy will not work for the upcoming census. They have really shortened up the process to only 10 basic questions that takes less than ten minutes of your time! The Census Bureau specifically states that they count people where they live so parents should not be filling out the form for their children as well. Emily’s idea of using social networking sites to get census messages across is definitely something that should be taken into consideration. A lot of students out there use these sites to keep in touch with each other and if they see that their fellow classmates are “attending” the census, then they might follow as well. The route that the Boston census office is taking is another great idea, but I feel an incentive should be offered alongside this idea. Therefore, more colleges will be willing to participate and help out the community.

  6. Catherine D. says:

    I think college students should be counted in the cenus, considering they are a large part of the population. I think the the way that both Boston and Ohio are trying to improve and increase the number of college kids counted are good ideas. Although I feel that Ohio’s plan will be more successful many college students dont know when the census is or wont remember even if they do so by emailing them it will remind them it will only take a short time to do. I was confused about why the parents can not include college students in their census for the house instead the college students must do it from the residence of the school?

  7. Mary D. says:

    I agree with the information given on campus counting. I think that college students are a main part of the population, and that their involvement in the census is necessary for the future. I know many Americans believe that the census is not entirely true to its word, and does not and cannot possibly count every person in the nation. But involvement in the census is crucial, which is why there must be a push for college students to be counted, and fill out the necessary form to be recognized in 2010 census. I agree with the above response from Emily B. that there must be some incentive for the college students to fill out the simple 10 questions, and not keep putting it off. I think that if the census was more recognized through media, or social networking as Emily described, that then the younger population of Americans would realize how important it is to our nation, our government, and the entire population of America. I do think that the e-mail idea is a very good one, considering college students could be residing at their homes or on a college campus, so to ensure that the necessary questions are filled out, this method could reach them wherever they are. The only concern I have with the e-mailing method is the possibility of the census questions being put into a “spam” folder, or the constant concern of technology and its usual problems. College students must be counted in the census, because they are a major part of the foundation of our nation.

  8. Jill K. says:

    Considering the fact that many of us will be entering college next year and moving out of our homes, I feel it is vital that college students are carefully counted and are very much involved in the 2010 census. The college campus is where we will most likely be spending the next 4 years of our life, so there is no doubt that we should be counted with the college’s location and not with our home address. The Albany area in upstate New York is known for its abundance of college students. It’s only fair that such an area is given the credit for such a large population, even though most of them are just 4-year college students. As always, there is always the problem of participation. College students can be described as lazy and unwilling to do anything without an incentive. But it’s also true that college students are enthusiastic about anything involving competition. I like the idea of having a competition among the many universities in a certain city to determine which school has the highest return rate of completed questionnaires. College students are also all about being reminded 100 times before they do something, so sending out an email is a great idea. I agree with Emily that using socail networking sites to encourage students to participate would be very beneficial. The census is definitely an important aspect of our democracy, and we must make it our duty to get everyone involved so we do it right.

  9. Jill H. says:

    I myself was under the impression that college students were always accounted for by their parents. I think it is extremely important that they know this is not the case. E-mail is a great idea but, might not get tremendous feedback. Further announcements should be made and students should be warned about the notification being sent to them that way they do not overlook it while shuffling through dozens of daily e-mails. The internet is a great tool for reaching this age bracket. Efforts should not be limited to simply e-mail but, extend into other internet forums and networking sites. Would the census taken by a college student require him or her to include his or her current location or their technical “home”? Does that mean out-of-state students are benefiting their temporary residence? Is there a large possibility that parents would mistakenly fill out a census for their already-accounted-for children?

  10. Cassie F says:

    College communities throughout the nation can be very large communities with a great number of people together. College students as a whole make up a large population and should be separately accounted for in a census. Often times the students attending their colleges and universities are from other states and aren’t included in their census at home. It is very important that they have a census so they are not looked over and can be included. I think the idea of alerting students through E-mail is an excellent choice to get this job done. College students can become very busy, but always seem to have time to get on the computer. By sending out messages to all college students about completing their forms it is more likely to get done. I think this is necessary for college students to be responsible and take part in the census because they represent the youth and make up a large group that can be very powerful if they want to.

  11. J.Lewis says:

    I think that taking the census of America is one of the hardest and most rigorous jobs that have to be done. This procedure happens every ten years but usually takes one whole year to complete. The hardest part of the job is getting everybody to cooperate and hand in their ten question form on time. Many people forget or just don’t have time. This is commonly the case with students at colleges and universities. Many students are fooled by the fact that they think that they are accounted for by the house in which their parents are living; when in actuality it is where you are living fulltime (fulltime means living on campus or off-campus housing). Many students are unaware of the census and are too lazy to complete these forms or usually just forget. I think that it is a good idea to use email to get through to kids at colleges or universities because everybody at these institutions uses a computer to operate and is most likely up to date with most technology. This would increase the accuracy of the census and would probably save the government a lot of time.

  12. Jasmin H says:

    The ideas stated in the blog are some very helpful ideas. Frequently, college students will not take the questionnaire very seriously and tend to leave what is considered unimportant to them as the last thing planned to be finished. So often does this happen that some college students aren’t even able to mail back the Census Data Worksheet. This is probably because they are mostly preoccupied with their studies or other factors involved in school. Reaching toward college students by direct mail or e-mail should help them realize that one of their priorities is to mail back the needed form. If not, it will be less likely for their party or race to be represented if they do not fill out and reply to the form.

  13. Nick D says:

    This is certainly a great idea; college students form a large portion of the population and need to be counted. However, your idea suggests that we use email services to help get the word out about the census. What if students have no email? It’s not as far-fetched as it sounds–many people have not caught on to email, partially due to a lack of interest. Many people also rarely check their emails as well. How do you suggest we reach out to them as well?

  14. Jennifer says:

    Personally I think that the college student’s location (if he/she lives on campus) and the home location, either their own home, or their parents or other guardian’s home, should also be included on the census…. what if they decide to move back home. Or they drop out and come back home before completion but right after or sometime after completion of the 2010 census information. College campus is not a residence, exactly…. personally I would say, the student lives on campus, and they either: don’t have another permanent residence, have a residence with parents, have a residence with other blood-relatives, have paid by self or by spouse (if married) residence, or live in their own residence (whether or not they pay for it). My opinion.

  15. kev@censusstaff says:

    To be consistent in counting every resident of the United States, the correct place to count people is where they usually live and sleep. The concept of “usual residence,” which is defined as the place where the person lives and sleeps most of the time stems from the first Census Act of 1790 and has been adhered to in all subsequent censuses. It is a guiding principle for the 2010 Census as well.

  16. I’m glad to know that the sons have been directed to assume some responsibility. I only hope that they are also experiencing some responsibilities in raising some (or all) of their tuition.

  17. zak ryerson says:

    There will be parents who feel that a student, especially one who is in his or her first or second year, should be included in the count for that household.
    This will be especially true if the household is in a state that is in danger of losing a seat and the college is in a state which will gain seats in the U. S. House.

  18. Leslie Greene says:

    Everybody seems very enthused with getting students to complete the census, but looking at the questions, there is going to be alot of confusing or double counting, because there is no specific definition of how much time is “usual” or “normal” for the parents to decipher. Even IRS has a 6 month rule for dependents living in the home. If the student is part time, or goes every other semester, it very well could be that they fill out a census and the parents should count them. How does the census purpose to cross match so their isnt double counting?
    Probably most important, is where do college students vote? Redistricting was the original and still major purpose of the census. If all the states havent changed voting rules for college students, then the PARENTS should count their kids, as it most probably could be either where they are registered or would go home to vote.
    Second, as stated by this report, the census is primarily used to distribute taxpayer funds, to shools, hospitals etc. Shouldnt the count be the most accurate for the area the parents or biggest taxpayers live? This is particulary important for all the racial and ethnic groups that are given English speaking grants to lower elementary schools, grants to hospitals and universities in the taxpayers home district, with voters and taxpayers in the University towns distributed based on the permanent taxpayers and voters in the University area?
    So, a definition for everyone (student and parent) alike, saying “if you work and/or live over 6 months of the year at your temporary address (maybe a year depending upon voter residency requirements) fill out the census as a individual and parents do not claim child who lives/works in another area over 6 months (1)of the year.
    Usually a test or form starts with the “intent” of the form and what it will be used for, before forming the questions or who it will be distributed to and instructions. Without specifically addressing the purpose of the census, it appears there is just as much reason to anticipate OVERCOUNT, as worry abut UNDERCOUNT. By counting all college kids that legally can’t vote in their college town, even with motor voter law, redistricting could actually give more representatives to a small college town than registered voters or stable population requires. The same with poor metro areas where parents of kids who only come home for holidays or to “crash” occasionally, count all the visitors and semi permanent relatives as “some of the time” or “most of the time” residents. Either one, could and does give a unequal and imbalanced count for the purpose of vote and distribution of tax dollars. It could also, and does, give a big imbalance to racial/all english speaking households and ethnic households or minority counts that are used in numerous other grants, advertising, percentage of medicaid and low income assumptions or stats etc.
    Very definitely college kids should be counted, but statistically only in the area where they vote and work/pay taxes, the majority of the year. This census or web site does not appear to have solved the problem and may have made this census even more inaccurate without more specific instructions to parents and eligible voters on campus or with rotating addresses.
    This actually came up in several of the Cities with College kids and ACorn registering to vote and voting, aganst the voter laws in the several States. I belive even the Civil Rights Act, is influenced for redistricting purposes, by the ethnicty and racial breakdown obtained by the Census. If so, the number of minority college students counted as permanent residents, could conceivable influence the redistricting and represention, in a minority/majority town or state, neighborhood or geographical area.
    If the Census Bureau has accounted for this or has better explanations and instructions, than shown in example on this site, then congratulations. But if this is it as specific example of the instructions, I question the accuracy or method of adjusting for the errors that are bound to get worse, not better, in 2010.

  19. Leslie Greene says:

    Your own website quotes the new laws Congress has passed, adding to the
    intent and purpose of the orginal 1790 Census Law.
    The “usual” place a person sleeps in 1790, is about as “usual” in 2010, as comparing what was “normal” in 1790, to “normal” in 2010. To get a accurate,statistical count, you have to spell out or define a time guideline for both parents and college students, and even newly married who maybe lived with their parents half or a quarter of the year, before moving away for any reason. The last census, I counted my unwed college daughter as living with me (even though with her boyfriend sometime)in April. She graduated from college at the end of May and married on June 1st. Guess what?
    No matter how hard I tried, my accountant would not let me count her as a dependent for that year, in next years taxes, because she did not live with me for OVER, 6 months. Timing and instructions are everything to the honest filer or census participant.
    The question is with all your statisticians and career Bureaucrats working with these problems for years, did you adjust the instructions or change the language to be specific as to who should fill or count themselves on the college campus, or what parents are supposed to count as “usual”?????

  20. John E. Reid says:

    Zak Ryerson is right! Students should be counted in their state of residency not where they attend college. My daughter attends college in California but she is a Colorado resident. She files a resident Colorado tax return, she has a Colorado drivers license, and, most important, she is registered to vote in Colorado. Under the Census protocol my daughter will be counted in California not Colorado. {I bet this is a ploy by Claifornia to get more congressional seats since they have so many colleges there.}

  21. Marjorie Nye says:

    I’m confounded by question 10 as it appears that it appears to contradict question 1.
    Moreover, if enumerating college students is important to the census, how will it be able to differentiate between a residence with a group of student living off campus vs. a group of young, but random roommates?

  22. Crystal says:

    The instructions at the beginning of the census form, and the question asking if the person sometimes lives or stays somewhere else is extremely confusing.
    AND I have a problem with counting my student as living at college when she is only in the next county, comes home every two weeks to visit, I pay all the bills, her mail comes to our home, she votes from our home, and she may or may not even continue at that college. Students move around a lot!! The census is only every ten years. Even if a student stays in one place for four years, that is less than half of the term of the current census. But whether she attends this college this year, maybe lives at home and drives to school (the same or a different one) next year, and maybe lives at a third college another year, the basic fact is that our home is the place she calls home and considers HOME.

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