Academics & Grades in College
Advice, discussions, and reviews from the
Parents of Teens weekly email newsletter.
Berkeley Parents Network >
Teens, Preteens, & Young Adults >
Academics & Grades in College
Is it true that a parent can not find out how your son/daughter is
doing in college, unless the child wants to share that info with you?
If your child may be slacking off in college, how do you know? Do you
just keep on paying for it in complete igmorance?
In my experience with UC Santa Cruz, they make it very clear that
your child is a grown-up now and the university has a relationship
with them, not you. They start telling you this at the orientations.
I tried to help my daughter when she got a notice that she had a
student loan which she didn't remember signing up for, and the
outgoing message on the office voicemail was ''if you are a parent
calling about your student, please hang up and have your student
call''! I did learn all my daughter's login information, so that
gives me access to her grades, financials, etc. She knows I have
access and will even direct me to her account to check on things
when we're working out tuition questions. While in there, I can
check her grades. Where we had some issues was when she got very ill
and was in the hospital and the university had no interest in
letting me help her drop classes or get in other related paperwork.
On the other hand, college is about growing up. She learned that you
need to take care of business, which for a wonderful girl who is a
little casual about business has been a good thing.
hard but exciting to see them fly on their own
We went through this with one of our kids. If they wouldn't show us
the report card, we didn't pay. Simple. One of my friends thought
this was very unfair, but I never understood why. If college
education is a joint venture (parents contributing the money,
student contributing the studying), then the partners in this
enterprise need to be open with each other about how it is going.
All of our other investments give us reports on how they are doing,
after all. We don't just send our money to Vanguard and hope things
are going well.
Your son can keep his privacy, if he wants to foot the bill.
Otherwise, this is the part of the price he pays for your financial
Been down this road
In general, parents are not allowed access to student records unless
the student signs an authorization. Here is some info for UC
Are you paying the bills? If so, your son needs to give you his PIN
and password, so you can check grades online. We made this a
condition of paying tuition, and my son who is attending community
college doesn't mind. My other son went to Univ. Arizona and I had
his PIN also to check grades, but in addition, at that school, the
student could give permission for parents to receive notifications
from the school.
The best way to handle this is before your son goes to college. You
could be very straightforward and tell him that at the end of every
semester/quarter, you want him to print out his grades and give you
If you feel you need it, another approach is that you could start by
telling him that you'd like to be as helpful as possible when he
starts college, and so if he is having trouble in a subject and he
tells you, maybe you could give him some suggestions about where to
turn. So you say that giving you a copy of his grades every semester
is part of helping him see how things are going, and your being able
to make suggestions (writing tutors available at the school)as to
how he could improve.
Another way to do it is to ask for his school password so you could
check grades online yourself. Then you just go in and check every
If you have a difficult relationship with your child and feel he
won't agree, then you have to set up conditions. You need to see his
grades to make sure all is going well. If he won't give you a copy,
then you'll stop _____ (giving him a monthly allowance, paying for
his cell phone bill, or whatever works).
Hopefully your son will just agree.
Yes I believe it is true you cannot have access to your college
student's grades except through the student. But the solution is
easy. You do not agree to pay for college unless they agree to give
you that full disclosure of viewing their grades.
My son attended UC Davis and counseling offices are not allowed to
share any information unless they have a signed consent form from
the student. I would encourage you to discuss with your child to get
that done. At least have a serious discussion with them to make sure
they know what to do in the event that they start having trouble
maintaining a C average (academic probation). This is when trust and
communication with your child is truly put to the test!
Yes, it is true that a parent cannot check with the college about
how their kid is doing. However, most class grades are posted
online. If you are paying or helping to pay your kid's tuition ask
him for his password or ask him to forward you his grades. If he
refuses to do so, you can suspend your financial assistance. That's
my deal with my kid. Seems only fair if you are helping to support
your college-age kid.
another parent of a college student
It is true that your student's grades are not made available to you
in college unless the student signs a release form for that. I'm not
sure all the schools are the same, but our oldest child's college
does notify the parents if the student is failing.
So there is a conversation to be had. You could decide that you will
require you son to sign that form in order to have you pay tuition
for him. Or you could make it clear that you expect them to honestly
report to you their grades. Either way, have a clear policy that if
the grades are below a certain level over a certain period of time,
you define that as ''not being ready'' or ''not putting in adequate
effort'' and the tuition ceases and the child moves home again and
gets a job, or whatever you think should be the consequence.
The legalities around privacy are just a small detail, really. The
key is to have a clear and explicit understanding of how this
exchange works: you are paying for college to allow your son the
opportunity to achieve certain things, and if he does not, you will
no longer support it.
With our eldest, we went for self-reported grades and she has done
fine. With our younger, who starts in the fall, I think we will
require that he signs the form and gives us access, since he is more
prone to denial when problems arise.
Good luck to you both!
Yes, it is true. The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act
(FERPA), a federal law, protects the privacy of students'
educational records. No one can discuss a student's grade or any
other aspect of his/her educational record with anyone other than
that student - not even with his/her parents. Before talking with
parents (or anyone) about any aspect of a student's educational
record, the school must have the permission of the student in
writing to release the requested information to that person.
Your college-attending young adult has a right to privacy. This law
protects that right. As with so many things, we as parents purchase
opportunity for our children - college being one example. How well
our offspring take advantage of that opportunity is up to them. If
you are concerned, you can either make a side agreement with your
kid (such as they need to prove to you that they are maintaining a
GPA of X for you to pay tuition for the following semester), or fund
your child's education because it is the right thing for those who
can afford it to do.
Think about it this way: Imagine you quit work to go back to school.
Your spouse, the sole breadwinner now, is paying your schooling and
living expenses. Does s/he have the right to see your transcripts
each semester? (Not whether you would show them to him/her anyway:
does s/he have the RIGHT to see them?) If you can't answer that with
an unqualified rationale for yes, then you shouldn't be able to
rationalize it for your offspring, either.
Not a helicopter Mom - just a loving one
Here's what my daughter and I came to: I had
her password and login for the colleges student web portal as we were
working on all the stuff together in the beginning. I would
periodically check in and see if there were any outstanding bills or
whatever, and I could also access grades. The school (UCSC) would send
me an email alert if there was something we needed to do for financial
aid, which was helpful. I would then in turn, ask my daughter what
they wanted. But the main thing was to enable her to be on the ball.
We would talk over what needed to get done and how she might do it
(aka coaching). Like now, she needs to GO INTO the financial aid
office and actually TALK with someone!
As far as the grades, I stopped looking after a while. It gave her
pleasure to tell me if she did well and we could celebrate together.
If the grade wasn't so good we could talk about why. She knew if she
failed a class she would have to take it again (god forbid!) and that
translates into time and money now. I stopped being that concerned as
it is HER education now. About the health part, she signed a form
saying they can contact me if she got sick. It's about being open with
your kid and also taking a step back.
this page was last updated: Sep 30, 2011
BPN is now a 501(c)(3) non-profit and we are building a new website!
Read more, and see how you can help:
The opinions and statements expressed on this website
are those of parents who subscribe to the
Berkeley Parents Network.
Disclaimer & Usage for
information about using content on this website.
Copyright © 1996-2014 Berkeley Parents Network