By Judy Razo
When your child goes to college, your engagement with them changes. You can’t volunteer at the school, they won’t be living at home, you can’t keep track of study habits, and the academic advisor is not allowed to share your student’s academic information.
That’s right. By law, the only person allowed to receive your child’s grades and GPA is your child. Now that they are in college, the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) classifies your child as a responsible adult and therefore protects their right to privacy.
So how can you check grades when your son or daughter doesn’t have to show them to you?
- Trust your child.
Start by acknowledging that your child is now considered an adult and therefore respect them as one. This will only strengthen your relationship and keep the lines of communication open between you, which in turn will make your child feel comfortable enough to show you his or her grades, no matter what they look like.
- Agree to share grades.
Before your student leaves for college, make an agreement for when he or she will share grades. This will set expectations and help keep your child on track as he or she keeps in mind the agreement to share grades after midterms and at the end of the semester.
- Offer incentives.
If you are able to, you could offer to pay tuition in exchange for a strong GPA. You could also incentivize your student by offering to increase the monthly stipend or upgrade their living or lifestyle arrangements each semester contingent on academic progress.
- Understand their degree plan.
Take your parent engagement level a step beyond just grades—ask your student to walk you through their degree plan and sit down at the end of each semester to check off the completed classes. Stay open-minded to your child’s choices and always be supportive if he or she chooses to change his or her major or area of study.
Remember to be confident that you raised a well-rounded and prepared child. This is the opportunity to allow all of the things you taught him or her to kick in; you just have to be patient, open-minded, and give it some time. Your child will apply what you have taught him or her and learn new techniques that will hopefully pay off.