Remember the anxious, stressful days of waiting for your report card in the mail? It would go one of two ways. Either you were going to be grounded for a month because of your lack of commitment to your schoolwork, or bragged about to everyone in your family for the rest of the year for your amazing academic achievements. These were the days when a parent could simply call up a school and ask for their child’s records and it would be handed them the next day. Thanks to FERPA this all ends the day we turn 18 or move on to a form of schooling beyond the high school level.
FERPA (Federal Educational Rights and Privacy Act) was made to protect the privacy of a student’s educational records. Under this federal law, once a student turns 18 they become an “eligible student.” This means that now only the student and faculty of the school they are attending are able to access their grades.
The parents who are paying for their children to attend a university may think this is unfair. There are parents who pay for their children to go to school and are never aware that they are just passing by or may not even be passing at all. Matthew McMahon, a sophomore broadcasting major, sides with the law but thinks that there should be an agreement between the parent and child that makes both sides feel more comfortable. McMahon said, “I think they deserve to know how their child is doing because they are paying a lot of money for them to attend school. However, it should really be up to the student and parent to work together to come up with a way that makes them both feel good about it.”
The parents may believe that this law only affects them but it certainly has to do with the students as well. We would assume that most students would not want their parents to access their grades just in case they are not giving their schoolwork all they have but there are students who agree that the law is unnecessary. When asked what she thought of FERPA, Meagan Kolakowski, a sopho- more dance major, said, “When my parents were paying my tuition, I thought it was fair because college is an investment for them be- cause it is so much money. I think them being able to see if you are doing well or not is fair because then they get to see if it was actually a good or bad investment. ”
When asked the same question, Giovan- ni Marcenaro, a sophomore computer sci- ence major, had mixed feelings about the law. “I think that the parents should be able to see the grades because they are paying for the schooling but at the same time I feel that if you’re not doing your best it’s embarrass- ing,” Marcenaro said. “You don’t want your parents to be ashamed and disappointed in you. I think the law has good and bad ele- ments to it.”
Both sides have great arguments but for now the law is the law. However, if you want your parents to have access to your grades to assure them that they are making the right decision by paying for you to get a higher education there are ways to do so. You and your parent would need to sign a FERPA waiver, giving your parent or guardian ac- cess to your records. You could also just give them a print out of your online report card at the end of ach semester. It is a good idea to let them see that you are working hard and that when it comes to school you don’t need a privacy law. The law thinks that once we are 18 we should cut off our parent’s ability to check up on our grades but more impor- tantly, what do you think?
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