As most students prepared to return to campus from summer recess, that familiar anxiety about the impending classes and their resulting grades was likely prevalent in every pit of every stomach. But a letter sent to students and parents from Boston University administration regarding a revision of the FERPA laws signaled the end of a whole host of other letters traditionally sent to parents throughout the school year ‘- students’ grades. The revised FERPA regulations now make it illegal for universities to disclose grades to parents, as an added thread of privacy to the FERPA blanket.
And though this news quelled the fears of many a grade-conscious student, it also rightly corroborates the reasonable belief that university administrations have no business intercepting parent-student relationships. Additionally, it removes some of the stigma from grades in general. In this age of collegiate learning, ungraded experiences outside the classroom prove to be just as, if not more, important and enriching than graded papers and tests within the classroom. FERPA’s initiative to remove parents from the grading process and granting students their right to use their own discretion in involving their parents brings the focus back from arbitrary rating protocols and redirects it onto the student’s full curricular and extracurricular experience.
Where parents might once have been asking about a certain B- in statistics class, they will now have more opportunity to involve themselves in their student’s internships, a capella group or art show. And for the students and parents who have always made grades an integral part of their academic relationship, that student’s grades will be part of the dialogue as usual regardless of whether or not they come in the mail.
One of the most outstanding qualities of a collegiate lifestyle is its independence. College is the place where youths become adults, and detaching from one’s parents is an essential part of that transition. Something as simple as the elimination of sending grade mailings to parents seems like a small step for people outside the university sphere, but for students, it’s a whole new wave of independence. It puts them in charge of what is rightly theirs ‘- the results of their hard work ‘- and adds responsibility and a sense of self-sufficiency. And as for parents who sign tuition checks and see grade reports as a way to evaluate the progress of their investments, this FERPA adjustment will make for an urgency toward strengthened relationships of trust and responsibility between students and parents.