We all remember the immense trepidation we felt those years in elementary school when our teachers sent home our report cards. We knew that there would be no way to intercept the foreboding letters from our parents’ punishing eyes. When it came down to the moment of truth, our innocent minds probably fessed up to what lay within the envelope before the seal was even broken.
In middle school, we were devious enough to make up wild excuses about why our grades were what they were. ‘My teacher told me I got an A. It must be a typo.’ And in high school, we were rebellious enough to just argue with our parents about the grades.
But now in college, we are mature enough to have our academic information be a private issue.
Thankfully, the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act provides students with that security. That is, if they can break free of their helicopter parents’ pressure to sign the waiver that negates this right.
At every Temple freshmen orientation, students are offered the chance to sign the waiver sheet that will make it so that the university may share their academic records openly. Some students might be persuaded by their parents to sign this waiver (as exemplified in Kelly R. Fields’s article “Opinions vary among students about privacy” on the front page), so that they may have open access to their children’s grades.
We use the term “helicopter parents” to describe those that hover over their children’s academic careers (see “‘Helicopter Parents’ unable to let go” by Chesney Davis, Aug. 28, 2007). Helicopter parents need to stop spinning their blades so close to their children’s heads.
College is not just about receiving an elevated education; it’s about students finding their independence and transitioning from teenager to adult. An important aspect of that is making judgment calls that suit the student best. If partying too hard or procrastinating leads to less studying and poor grades, then that is a consequence that students have to take responsibility for.
Even though getting reamed out by our parents over bad grades is a definite dark memory of our childhoods, it should not offer itself as a consequence at this point in our lives. Our own ambitious minds should be the only scornful voice we hear.
Unfortunately, most students don’t even know or care about the FERPA privacy rights. And they should.
Privacy of one’s own information is something to be understood and appreciated. Personal records in different institutions could mean academic standings, financial statements and health records. This information is just the bait that identity thieves look for.
In becoming knowledgeable, responsible adults, college students should make it a priority to be aware of what rights are protecting them from identity thieves and helicopter parents alike. In this day and age, both are highly dangerous.