Since 1974, you’ve been able to legally request and receive a college’s notes on your application.
The only thing? Nobody really knew it until about a week ago.
The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) of 1974 requires schools to hand over admissions documents within 45 days of receiving the request for information. That’s right, all the notes, scoring and comments a college admissions person put on your file, you can read them. Go right ahead.
Didn’t get into NYU with a 3.5 GPA and a 32 ACT? Find out why!
Want to smash your fingers with a hammer while sitting on a hot stove? Go right ahead!
Retroactively, this could be seen as a form of masochism. You really don’t need to know why Duke rejected you in 3 years ago. Really, you don’t.
But here’s the deal. Stanford’s student run paper the Fountain Hopper recently fired off an email to its readers with details on how to go about requesting admissions information from the university.
Essentially, they had cracked the code and their readers were up to the task.
The result? Over 1000 students asked for their confidential admissions information from Stanford. Major headache for the university. Major expenditure of resources. And a major PR storm.
While the PR storm is fun to watch our prediction is that:
A. There will be too much information to make sense and the arbitrary nature of college admissions will just be re-exposed. Nothing new learned.
B. Admissions officers will stop taking notes on applicants. They will find a way around this to limit their school’s exposure.
C. One or two college’s dirty laundry will get aired in a few months because an admissions officer wrote something callous on an application. They’ll be reprimanded and the school with backpedal a bit.
Parents, don’t worry. Counselors, take note.
If you’re a high school guidance counselor, independent or otherwise, keep your fingers on the pulse of this one. Did you work with a student in the past few years who was denied admission at a college and you just couldn’t figure out why?
Contact the student’s family and ask them to file with FERPA. If might not help them, but it might help you navigate the muddy waters of admission for another student.
Here’s more information, including the actual steps to file with FERPA.