The Ivy Coach Daily
September 20, 2009
Waiving Rights on the College Application
On the Secondary School Report and the Teacher Evaluation of The Common Application, the question reads: “IMPORTANT PRIVACY NOTICE: Under the terms of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), after you matriculate you will have access to this form and all other recommendations and supporting documents submitted by you and on your behalf after matriculating, unless at least one of the following is true: 1. The institution does not save recommendations post-matriculation; 2. You waive your right to access below, regardless of the institution to which it is sent. / Yes, I do waive my right to access, and I understand I will never see this form or any other recommendations submitted by me or on my behalf; No, I do not waive my right to access, and I may someday choose to see this form or any other recommendations or supporting documents submitted by me or on my behalf to the institution at which I’m enrolling, if that institution saves them after I matriculate.”
Students Should Always Waive Their FERPA Rights
Students and their parents often ask us how they should answer this question. Our answer is always the same: Waive your rights! By waiving your right to access, your teachers and counselor have the freedom to write honest evaluations. When college admissions officers read school reports or teacher evaluations and the student has not waived his/her rights, it presents a red flag and, yes, admissions officers can absolutely read between the lines. By waiving your right to access, your teachers and counselor have the freedom to write candidly. Once you waive your rights, the only way you will have the right to see your recommendations would be if you were accepted and then matriculated to the college. And once you’ve already enrolled, it doesn’t make much sense why you would even care about reading these letters. So trust the people whom you’ve asked to fill out the forms and write your letters of recommendation. If you value the relationships that you have with your teachers and your school counselor, and they agree to write letters on your behalf, then there is every reason right there why you would agree to waive your rights.
Recommendations Contain Evaluative Criteria Too
Now that you know you need to waive your rights, you should also think carefully about which teachers you should ask to write letters on your behalf before you reach out to them. In addition to writing you letters, the teachers you select will have to complete teacher evaluations, so it’s important that you consider these ratings and how you think your teachers will respond. The Teacher Evaluation of The Common Application has the following criteria on which your teachers rate you: academic achievement, intellectual promise, quality of writing, creative, original thought, productive class discussion, respect accorded by faculty, disciplined work habits, maturity, motivation, leadership, integrity, reaction to setbacks, concern for others, self-confidence, initiative, independence, and overall. Applicants are rated on a scale of below average to average to good to very good to excellent (top 10%) to outstanding (top 5%) to one of the top few I’ve encountered (top 1%). Your school counselor also completes the Secondary School Report with other questions.
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