Detail from "the second line," a painting by Bob Graham. For more about the artist, click here.

Online Program

Sampling College Students to Improve Coverage in University Towns

*Michelle Amanda Cantave, Arbitron Inc 
Robin Gentry, Arbitron Inc 

Keywords: Group Quarters, University Housing, Young Adult Population

In some metropolitan areas (e.g. Ithaca, NY, State College, PA and Ann Arbor, MI) as much as 40% of the population between the ages of 18 and 24 live in college dormitories or other university-owned housing (known as university group quarters). This population usually can not be reached through traditional RDD or address-based sampling approaches because these dwellings are almost entirely excluded from frames provided by commercial sample vendors. As a result, campus dwellers are a major source of under-coverage for studies of the general population which are meant to cover respondents in both group and non-group dwellings. In December 2009, a pilot study was fielded in three metro areas with large university populations using an address-based sample of dormitory rooms and university-owned apartments. The sample consisted of 3000 surveys mailed to students randomly sampled from university directories. Two-thirds of the students were sent a diary and a media survey; the remaining students were sent a short screener survey. In March 2010, we contacted the students that returned the screener survey from the pilot test and attempted to place diaries with all of the students in the respondent’s dorm room/apartment. We will present results of the pilot tests—including mail usability rates and response rates as well as characteristics of the responding students. The presentation will include lessons learned and next steps for incorporating university/college students into surveys of the general population.

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