Letter to the editor: My experience with the 2020 Census as a student living off campus


Annalisa Baranowski | La DePaulia.

The last time the census was counted, I was ten years old, and I don’t even think I knew it was happening. It wasn’t until recently that I understood anything about the census. 

Questions like how often it occurs, who’s counted, and how to complete it were all unknowns until just a couple months ago. Between all the confusion surrounding being a college student and being in a global pandemic, it can be hard to know what to do.

Right now, I’m finishing up my junior year at DePaul University. I’m a business major, so I spend a significant portion of my time down in the Chicago Loop. But when I’m not in classes or working usually, I’m at my off-campus apartment. That’s how things typically are, but nothing is usual right now. 

My job and classes are all online. Instead of being at my apartment, I’m at home with my family across the country. When the time came to fill out the census, I had no clue what information I should put down. My apartment in Chicago where I spend the school year, my parents’ house in Georgia where I go for summer and winter break, or my brother’s house in Texas where I’m spending quarantine?

Luckily all it took was some research and a quick discussion with my roommates to learn that we were all supposed to put down our shared Chicago apartment for where we live. Together over a Zoom meeting, we went through and completed the census online for our household, and it only took about five minutes. 

It feels nice to know we are contributing to and helping represent our neighborhood. We all enjoy the community we live in and have all chosen apartments in the same area for next year. We hope that we will be able to see the impact our responses to the census have on our neighborhood in the future. 

Being counted in the census for the first time is exciting, it is like a rite of passage for growing up that people don’t talk about often. You hear about voting for the first time, or people’s first tattoos, and everyone’s first legal drink, but you don’t hear much about people being able to participate in the census for the first time. To me, the census is just as exciting as the previously listed examples. It signifies that I have made it out on my own, and that’s something that anyone should be excited for. 

Take a look at this video to learn more https://youtu.be/B4Ee8ol_LxY