Students gain access to Admission files

Cooper Josephs, Assistant News Editor

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College students nationally and locally have been asking to gain access to their admissions records. The idea was the brainchild of an online newspaper run by anonymous Stanford students called The Fountain Hopper.

After reviewing a 1974 federal law known as the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), students realized universities must release educational records to accepted students who request them within 45 days. These records include admission officer comments and teacher recommendations. Students who did not gain admission to a university are not eligible to view their files.

As of Jan. 22, University of Pennsylvania’s admission office received more than 20 requests from students to view their admissions records, according to The Daily Pennsylvania.

So far, the response on the University’s campus has been apathetic. University admissions has only received and processed one student request.

“I don’t think many students know we can do this, or they might think it’s a lot harder to do than it really is,” Katie Faulkner ’17 said.

On Jan. 23, University student Sam Jacobson ’17 went into admissions to review his admission records. Jacobson said the opportunity would allow him to get an unbiased look at his application, which would help him with future applications and résumé building.

“I can see if I was communicating clearly or not on my application. If there was something that was not picked up correctly by admissions, then I would want to know what it is, and make sure I change my wording for future applications,” Jacobson said.

Jacobson had to view his admission application in the Registrar’s Office, and then travel to the Admissions Office to see the admission officer’s notes. Jacobson was required to view all documents on the administration’s computers.

“It wasn’t too hard, but it was kind of a hassle,” Jacobson said.

Jacobson was surprised by the admission officer’s brevity of the remarks.

“There was a 100-word summary of my essays and application. I thought there would be more… I was a little underwhelmed,” Jacobson said.

After discovering this newfound ability, students have raised questions about how it will affect University admissions processes. It is possible that students will pass down information to prospective applicants after reviewing their application.

“I would like to imagine that there is not just some algorithm to get in, and that it is a very unique application process… if [admissions officers] are good at their jobs, they should be able to see past someone being shallow on their application,” CJ Blasi ’17 said.

Assistant Vice President of Communications Andy Hirsch said next year the University will be transferring to a new system to help manage recruitment and application processes, which may bring about some changes.

Failure to comply with FERPA’s terms results in the loss of all federal education funds, according to The Fountain Hopper’s Website.

Students who wish to view their admissions records can go to the Office of the Registrar in Marts Hall and talk to an admissions officer.

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