Chatham University

Family & Friends
Your New Student

Parenting a College Student

Tip # 1: Don't Ask Them If They're Homesick

A student once said, "The idea of being homesick didn't even occur to me, with all the new things that were going on, until my mom called one of the first weekends and asked, 'Are you homesick?' Then it hit me." However, if a bout of homesickness strikes, keep in mind that numerous programs and services exist at Chatham to assist new students throughout their first year of college.

Tip # 2: Write (Even if They Don't Write Back)

Although new college students are typically eager to experience all the away-from-home independence they can in those first weeks, most are still anxious for family ties and the security those ties bring. Students love to receive mail. Clippings from the hometown newspaper, packages of cookies and even postcards can be shared with their newfound friends.

Tip # 3: Expect Change

Your student will change. College and the experiences associated with it can effect changes in social, vocational and personal behavior and choices. It's natural, inevitable and it can be inspiring. Often though, it's a pain in the neck.

You can't stop change, you may never understand it, but it is within your power (and to you and your student’s advantage) to accept it. Remember that your student will be basically the same person that you sent away to school, even if he or she returns for Thanksgiving break with a different hairstyle, eats different foods or discusses lots of new ideas.

Tip # 4: Don't Worry (Too Much)

about stressed-out phone calls or email messages. Parenting can be a thankless job, especially during the college years. When problems become too much for a first-year student to handle (a flunked test, ended relationship and shrunken T-shirt all in one day), one place to turn, write or dial is home. Unfortunately, this may be the only time that the urge to communicate is felt so strongly that you never get to hear about the "A" paper, the new friend or domestic triumph.

Be patient with those "nothing-is-going-right-I-hate-this-place" phone calls, letters or emails. You're providing a real service as an advice dispenser, sympathetic ear and punching bag. Sometimes it's a service that makes you feel lousy, but it works wonders for a frustrated student.

Tip # 5: Trust Them

Finding oneself is a difficult-enough process without feeling that the people whose opinions you respect most are second-guessing your own second-guessing. One of the most important things one mom ever wrote to her son in his four years at college was this: "I love you and want for you all the things that make you happiest; and I guess you , not I, are the one who knows best what those things are." Certainly, a note like this would mean as much to your student now as it did to this student during his senior year.

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FERPA

Congress passed the Family Educational Rights & Privacy Act (FERPA), also known as the Buckley Amendment, on August 21, 1974 to protect the privacy of student education records. Within the context of higher education, FERPA provides students the right to review these records and prohibits unauthorized dissemination of educational information by the institution or its employees.

Chatham University, like most institutions of higher education, falls under FERPA regulations and is obligated to develop policies for the protection and restricted dissemination of records related to each student’s education.

However, FERPA also affords Chatham some latitude in establishing its own policies, defining relevant terms, and conveying critical information for the health and safety of individual students and other members of the institution within the legal parameters of the Act. When responding to an emergency, or in some cases preventing a potential emergency from occurring, health and safety issues assume priority over student education privacy rights.

  1. Balancing Student Privacy and Student Safety

    » http://www.ed.gov/policy/gen/guid/fpco/brochures/postsec.html

  2. Rights and Responsibilities for Parents

    Transferring Privacy Rights from Parents to Students under FERPA

    FERPA regulations were enacted to protect the privacy of education records for students of all ages. Under the guidelines for higher education, the rights of protection and consent automatically transfer from the parent to the eligible student. An eligible student is defined as a student who has reached 18 years of age or is attending an institution of post secondary education, regardless of age. This means that you will not have the right to access your student's education records without his or her consent. [Section 99.5(a)]

    Communicating with Students Before and After They Enter College

    Without direct access to information, parents often worry about their students, especially as they begin their college careers. We suggest talking to your student about this issue before they come to campus and keeping the lines of communication open throughout their attendance.

    Encouraging Independence and Responsibility

    The Chatham experience is intended to foster growth, maturation and the ability to make informed decisions as students assume increasing responsibility for their own actions In providing a safety net, the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act gives colleges and universities the option to release information from a student's education record to parents and certain individuals or agencies when a legitimate educational interest has been verified or the health and safety emergency exception has been invoked. Should parents or guardians have questions involving student discipline matters, a separate consent to release information form is available to students.

  3. FAST Facts

    1. At what point do privacy rights transfer from parents to students under FERPA?
    2. What kinds of information are included in student education records under FERPA?
    3. What kinds of information are NOT considered education records?
    4. What does it mean to be an eligible student (student) at Chatham University under FERPA?
    5. When is a student considered in attendance at Chatham University?
    6. Who qualifies as a parent at Chatham under FERPA?
    7. Under what conditions is an individual considered a University official?
    8. What relevance does this definition of University official have for implementation of FERPA and the rules of disclosure at Chatham?
    9. What does the term disclosure mean, and what type of records does it cover at Chatham University?
    10. What, if any, is the relationship between FERPA and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA)?
    1. At what point do privacy rights transfer from parents to students under FERPA?

      The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act transfers both rights and responsibilities from parents to students in its protection of student education records at the post secondary level. Students at BGSU have a certain degree of control over who has access to their records depending on their status as a tax dependent, the nature of the information requested, and the reason for accessing or disseminating the information. Generally, students’ parents will not have access to their grades without their written authorization.

    2. What kinds of information are included in student education records under FERPA?

      Education records are directly related to a student and their experience at Chatham University and maintained by the University or by an agency acting on behalf of the institution, including but not limited to:

      1. Directory information
      2. Class schedules
      3. Grades
      4. School-related employment
      5. Disciplinary complaints and rulings

      These records may be maintained in a variety of formats such as those that are hand-written, typed, computerized or stored in audio-visual or digital media.

    3. What kinds of information are NOT considered education records?

      1. Faculty or staff personal observations or knowledge of a student’s behavior or experience not documented in formal records.
      2. Faculty or staff notes made and kept as a memory aid for instruction, supervision or administration and not shared with others, except a temporary substitute of the record maker.
      3. Records of the University’s law enforcement unit if the records are maintained separately from education records, maintained solely for enforcement purposes, and disclosed only to law enforcement officials of the same jurisdiction.
      4. Records relating to an individual who is employed by an educational institution that are maintained in the normal course of business, related solely to the individual as an employee, not available for any other purpose and unrelated to student status.
      5. Treatment records made or maintained by a physician, psychologist, psychiatrist, or other recognized professional or paraprofessional for use only in connection with treatment of the student and for disclosure only to persons providing the treatment. In this context, the term treatment does not include remedial educational activities.
      6. Records that contain information about an individual after he or she is no longer a student at the institution.
    4. What does it mean to be an eligible student (student) at Chatham University under FERPA?

      FERPA defines a student, at all levels of education, as any individual who is or has been in attendance at an educational agency or institution and regarding whom the agency or institution maintains education records. Under FERPA’s guidelines for higher education, an eligible student refers to a student who has reached 18 years of age or is attending an institution of post-secondary education, regardless of age. When a student becomes an eligible student, the rights accorded to, and consent required of, parents transfer from the parents to the student. [Section 99.5(a)]

    5. When is a student considered in attendance at Chatham University?

      A student is in attendance when participating academically in person, by correspondence, or through online courses. This definition also includes work related to the student’s educational experience such as co-ops, internships, and work-study programs. It is not enough to be enrolled; the student must be engaged in academic pursuit.

    6. Who qualifies as a parent at Chatham under FERPA?

      The definition of parent includes the natural, adoptive, or step parent of a Chatham University student or a guardian or individual acting as a parent in the absence of a parent or guardian. Full rights are afforded to both parents unless an order, state statute, or other legally binding document has revoked the parent’s rights.

    7. Under what conditions is an individual considered a University official?

      The term University official includes any individual employed by Chatham University in an administrative, supervisory, academic, research or support staff position or a student serving in an official capacity, such as a member of a disciplinary or grievance committee, or in assisting another school official in performing his or her tasks. In addition, representatives of companies or agencies with whom the University has contracted (such as consultants, external auditors, or attorneys) are considered University officials if they have legitimate educational interests in the information.

    8. What relevance does this definition of University official have for implementation of FERPA and the rules of disclosure at Chatham?

      FERPA mandates restrictions on who does and does not have access to student education records as well as when and for what reasons particular individuals have access. These restrictions are related to student and parent rights to review, amend and challenge the records. They also prescribe the conditions under which all individuals functioning as University officials have the right and/or responsibility to access or disclose student records in the interests of education, health and safety of the student and others at the institution. In this sense, access to the records is based solely on an individual’s need to execute his or her job responsibilities. Review of student education records for mere curiosity or purveyance is never authorized or tolerated.

    9. What does the term disclosure mean, and what type of records does it cover at Chatham University?

      Disclosure permits review of official education records or the personally identifiable information maintained in a variety of formats, including oral, written, or electronic media, within the context of FERPA regulations. Only with consent of the eligible student or verification that the student is a dependent of the parent, as defined in section 152 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, do parents maintain the standard rights of disclosure. [Section 99.31(a)(8)]

    10. What, if any, is the relationship between FERPA and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA)?

      HIPAA defers to FERPA in the matter of medical information deemed education records under FERPA: "(2) Protected health information excludes individually identifiable health information in ... education records covered by the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act as amended, 20 U.S.C. 1232g...." According to the US Department of Education’s Family Policy Compliance Office which oversees enforcement of FERPA, “The important piece for school officials to understand is that health records are ‘education records’ subject to FERPA, not HIPAA.” (See: Interview with LeRoy Rooker, Director Family Policy Compliance Office, U.S. Dept. of Education.)

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Recommended reading

  • I'll Miss You Too: An Off-to-College Guide for Parents and Students by Margo E. Woodacre Bane & Steffany Bane
  • When Your Kid Goes to College:: A Parents' Survival Guide by Carol Barkin
  • Letting Go: A Parents' Guide to Understanding the College Years by Karen Levin Coburn & Madge Lawrence Treeger

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