On the Secondary School Report (SSR) 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 (see list at www.commonapp.org/FERPA).
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 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 counselors read school reports or teacher evaluations and the student has not waived his/her rights, this can be an unnecessary red flag and one that can sometimes result in a denial. By waiving your right to access, your teachers and counselor have the freedom to write honest evaluations.
It is through the letters of recommendation and evaluations that an admissions committee can get another glimpse into just who the applicant is. When the applicant does not waive his/her rights, the admissions committee may assume that the writer of those recommendations is being less than candid and that the full story is not being told. When this becomes apparent, admissions counselors can and do read between the lines.
Before you ask for a letter or recommendation, you need to think very carefully about the teachers with whom you have a good relationship and those who could discuss your attributes in a most positive light. In addition to writing you a letter, the teachers who you select may also have to complete teacher evaluations, so it is important that you consider these ratings and how you think your teachers will respond.
Ratings: Compared to other students in his or her class year, how do you rate this student in terms of:
|No Basis||Below Average||Average||Good
(well above average)
|One of the top few I’ve encountered
|Quality of writing|
|Creative, original thought|
|Productive class discussion|
|Respect accorded by faculty|
|Disciplined work habits|
|Reaction to setbacks|
|Concern for others|
Waiving your right to access is really a no-brainer since the only way you will have the right to see your recommendations would be if you were accepted and then matriculated at the college. Once you are 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 relationship that you have with the people whom you ask, and they agree to do it, then there is every reason why you would want to waive your rights.
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