Off the hook: Students’ grades no longer sent home to mom

Andrea Damewood

Spring Break marked the last time Northwestern students have to camp out next to their mailboxes at home to prevent parents from seeing a bad grade.

To eliminate unnecessary paperwork, the Office of the Registrar decided that unless a student files a request, quarterly grades will only be available on CAESAR and not sent home. Students responsible for passing on grades to their parents.

“We decided to do this for a variety of reasons,” University Registrar Suzanne Anderson said. “Most students see their grades before they are ever printed. Also, most students communicate well with their parents and will tell them their grades.”

However, provisions were placed in the policy that allow parents to sidestep student notification and get grades directly from NU. Hard copies can be sent home if students sign a release. Parents also can request the grades of their children if they are listed as dependants because of The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act.

Based on other universities’ experiences with similar grade notification policies, Anderson said it rarely is necessary for parents to invoke their right to see the grades.

The policy-change process began Fall Quarter when Anderson proposed the change to NU’s Parents’ Board and the Associated Student Government Academic Subcommittee. Despite concerns, both groups approved the proposal.

“We were afraid about not having grades in an official paper form,” said ASG Academic Vice President Tamara Kagel, a Communication junior. “But there were more pressing issues we wanted the registrar to deal with — so if it frees up time, we were happy to help them.”

Some students gave the policy switch a mixed review.

“I never checked my grades at home,” said Sara Sutton, a Weinberg sophomore. “This won’t affect me much.”

Patrick Henry, a Weinberg junior, said he believed that the change would be detrimental because students might lie about their academic progress to their parents.

“I know my mom always liked grades being mailed home so she could see them,” he added.

Anderson said parents were informed of the change in a note enclosed with Winter Quarter grades and through the parents’ e-mail listserv.

NU is one of the last universities in the Association of American Universities to change to a purely electronic grade-notification system. Anderson said she polled 48 universities in the AAU and 75 percent of them did not mail grades home. Others had plans in the works to eliminate mailings.