FERPA! FERPA! FERPA!
Many students are working hard on their Common Application right now and as they come to the point where they need to authorize release of their high school transcripts, they are being asked to sign the FERPA Waiver.
Huh? What is a “FERPA?” Some kind of new sea creature that James Cameron saw when he visited the Marianas Trench several months ago?
No. FERPA stands for the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act.When I asked about the importance of a student signing away some of their rights through the Act, here’s the response I received from Naviance, a software that many high schools in the United States use for submitting documents to colleges.Waiver access refers to giving up the students’ right to view letters that teachers and counselors have written on the students’ behalf.
These recommendation letters are confidential and they are covered under FERPA (Family Education Rights Privacy Act) regulations.
Once the student has signed the waiver it becomes a blanket waiver that applies to all schools and all recommendations completed on a student’s behalf.
Some secondary schools may require the student to sign the waiver. Additionally, some counselors and teachers might refuse to write a recommendation if the waiver isn’t signed.
So, that’s the reason the signature is required – so that high schools will be comfortable sending in recommendations to colleges.
It’s all about who gets to read the recommendations in this particular instance. Once the student is enrolled in college, another issue comes up in that this is the first time parents realize their “adult” student is able to access their grades, but mom and dad are not! Despite the fact that a big chunk of the bill is paid by the ‘rental units’.
Know your rights as a student and parent, before signing anything these days.
And understand who is watching you!