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Signing the FERPA waiver: pros and cons?

Hi! I've been told that I should sign the FERPA waiver when applying to colleges and submitting recommendations. Can someone please explain the pros and cons of signing/releasing my rights, and what it means exactly? Thanks!

6 months ago

Hi there! The FERPA waiver is related to the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), which protects the privacy of students' educational records. In the context of college applications, the waiver mainly pertains to your recommendation letters. By signing the FERPA waiver, you are releasing your rights to review the recommendation letters submitted on your behalf.


1. Trust: Signing the waiver demonstrates to colleges that you trust your recommenders to write honest, accurate, and strong letters of recommendation. Colleges generally value this trust as it indicates the recommender's perspective is unbiased.

2. Higher Credibility: When you waive your rights, colleges typically view the recommendation letters as more credible since they believe the writers were free to provide their honest opinions without fear of repercussions.

3. Validator of Application: If there is a question or a discrepancy in your application, admissions officers may reach out to your recommenders for clarification. Having waived your rights can increase the credibility of these conversations.


1. No Review: By signing the waiver, you lose the right to access or review the contents of your recommendation letters. This means you won't be able to see what your recommenders wrote about you or whether their letters were strong and in line with the rest of your application.

2. Limited Control: You won't have control over the content of your recommendation letters, and you'll have to rely on your recommenders for their accuracy.

Ultimately, it is usually in your best interest to sign the FERPA waiver. Doing so expresses trust in your recommenders and presents your application in a stronger light. Make sure to select teachers, counselors, or mentors who know you well and with whom you have a good relationship to ensure glowing and honest letters. Good luck with your college applications!

6 months ago

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