College acceptances, test scores: a plea for privacy
I recently wrote about how and whether high schools should publicly display where their seniors are accepted to college, and I came out on the side of letting the decisions stay private; the kids can tell who they want. Some people agreed with me; others did not.
Here is a plea for privacy that helped form my own arguments. It was written by Miami-based educational consultant David Altshuler, who helps students and families choose and apply to colleges, universities and boarding schools of all types. This was his answer to a query about innovative ways for high schools to display college acceptance decisions.
By David Altshuler
My advice would be not to do anything. No bulletin board, no list in the school paper, no announcement, no email.
Think privacy. Think confidentiality. Think "College is a match to be made, not a game to be won."
What about the child going to a local community college because her single parent father lost his job. Does he want "Maria Enriquez--Local Community College" up there on the bulletin board next to "Abigail Adams--Princeton"? Probably not.
The disparity in family income is clear enough in the student parking lot. There is no need to beat them over the head with this information in another form.
And what about the child who isn’t going to college in the fall because she’s headed to wilderness therapy for drug rehab and then to an emotional growth boarding school? She deserves her privacy, and our respect, as well.
Sensitive teachers don’t walk around handing out test papers saying "Jose, 92; Martha 87; Ooh, looks like Tommy didn’t study. Tommy, 59." Counselors shouldn’t betray confidences either. How can students come to a counselor for confidential advice when they know that in a few months he or she will disclose to the community that which should be private?
Why would they tell a counselor of their learning differences, or their need for a school without too much academic pressure, or their family’s concern about finances if the counselor is going to publicize their decision?
At the very least, let the kids sign a paper saying that both they and their parents want their names displayed. Not just for FERPA or HIPAA considerations, but because it’s the right thing to do.
As counselors, we should be all about privacy, autonomy and choice. Putting the names of the kids and their colleges in public view is the opposite of what we’re supposed to stand for.
Isn’t one of our primary goals as counselors to model for our communities that we should love our children for who they are, not for what they accomplish? “High expectations, high love”—the best way to parent, to teach and to counsel--is consistent with pointing out narcissism when we see it.
Please consider allowing families to keep a private issue private.
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| February 3, 2010; 6:30 AM ET
Categories: College Admissions | Tags: college admissions
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