Parent Engagement in College: Academic SuccessSeptember 10, 2014
By Judy Razo
The time has come for your child to head off to college. You’ve done a great job staying involved at his or her school, providing a loving home, offering help and support for academic success, and you even checked grades to make sure he or she stayed on track to graduate. Now your teenager is off to college and you hope to continue supporting him or her in the same way.
However, the circumstances will be different. You can’t volunteer at the school, he or she won’t be living at home, you can’t keep track of study habits, and the academic advisor is not allowed to give you, or anybody else, any of your student’s academic information.
That’s right. The only person allowed by law to receive your child’s grades and GPA is your child. Now that he or she is in college, the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) classifies your child as a responsible adult and therefore protects his or her right to privacy. It is your child’s choice to share his or her grades and GPA with you.
So how can you check grades when your son or daughter doesn’t have to show them to you? I have some tested approaches that will help you out.
Start by acknowledging that your child is now considered an adult, and therefore, you should respect and trust him or her 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.
Next, create a protocol in case he or she has trouble with a class or grades begin to slip. Try to establish this protocol before he or she starts college and present it as a “just in case” plan that both of you hope you won’t have to use. As a parent you have high expectations for your child. As a son or daughter, your child doesn’t want to hear that you think he or she is going to fail, so be tactful in your delivery. Acknowledge that going to college is very different than going to high school and this plan will provide wiggle room as your child adjusts.
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.
The agreement will vary depending on the relationship between you and your child. 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 his or her living or lifestyle arrangements each semester contingent on academic progress.
Lastly, you can take your parent engagement level a step beyond just grades by having your student walk you through his or her 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.