EasyColumbus: Census on Campus

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

In the past, colleges and universities took a head count and reported back to the Census Bureau. This year, to ensure that everyone is accounted for, college students get to take part and fill out their own census questionnaires.

The 10-minute, 10-question survey will be sent to campuses and distributed to dormitories and campus housing such as fraternities and sororities in April and May. Even international students will be included, since they're living in the U.S. during the time of the census.

Students living off campus will receive the census questionnaire in the mail, like any other household.

"The dormitory survey is the first of its kind," said Steve Kelley, senior economist for the Ohio Department of Development. "We are working with universities to send out e-mail messages to campuses saying it is a constitutional duty to fill out the form."

College students should be counted in a separate location if they're living at school away from home.

"The form clearly identifies that parents are to fill out the form for the people living at that house now," said Kelley. "The information asked helps identify unique individuals and place them in a specific spot."

By having students fill out their own questionnaires, it also will be easier to cross-check addresses to avoid counting anyone twice.

The census also benefits schools, since the population survey is used to distribute government funding and grants.

Both national and local media campaigns are in effect - including videos, ads and blogs - to let students know about the census. As the census date approaches, students should be reminded by their schools to look for the questionnaire.

If students who live off campus don't fill out a survey, they might be surprised when a census worker comes knocking on their door with a friendly reminder.

For more info on the census and how it affects college students, click to 2010census.gov.

Heather Weekly is a junior at Otterbein College majoring in broadcasting

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