Wake Wednesday

Yesterday we were having trouble with the Daily Deac and I am not sure if it was sent out, so here is a link to the post in case you missed it (subject was Health and Immunization Form for P’24s and the need to waive or enroll in student insurance starting July 1 for all families).

Today is Wake Wednesday, where the Daily Deac will focus on information specifically for P’24s, our incoming families in the Class of 2024. Please remember to consult the Parents and Families section of the New Students website and scroll down to the bottom of the page to see due dates and deadlines of which you need to be aware.

Last week we looked at the things P’24s should be doing to help prep their Deacs for the changes that come with being a first-time college student. This week, we’ll focus on how *you* need to prepare yourself – because a lot of the things parents and family members are accustomed to knowing or doing will now fall into to your student’s lane, not yours. So this week is a time to start thinking about those changes, and then you can do the individual work of talking about how to handle these situations in your family. 

While students have increasing autonomy in college, parents and families have more limited access to certain information than they did in high school. Here are a few examples: 

FERPA/Grades

The first change to consider is FERPA (Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act). Universities are prohibited from releasing information about a student (such as grades or academic standing) unless the student specifically waives their FERPA rights by giving Proxy Access, a service managed by the Office of the University Registrar. This is not a Wake-initiated rule, this is a federal rule. 

So, if parents/loved ones want to be able to view end of semester grades, or talk to academic administrators about their student’s academic work, the student must first grant Proxy Access.

Health Care

Similarly, if your Deac is over 18, their on campus health care is private, just like yours and mine is. However, students can give the Student Health Service permission to talk to parents/loved ones when they go in for a particular visit/health care concern via a release of information form. 

I would encourage you to talk to your ’24 Deac about whether you will want to be able to talk to the SHS – but understand that your student will grant that access on a visit-by-visit basis, not carte blanche for the whole semester. Why? They may be fine to give permission to talk to the SHS when they have the flu, but they may feel differently if it is an OB/GYN matter, for example. Patient privacy is important, and we do not want students to refuse to seek needed treatment because they are afraid of their families knowing about it. You can talk within your family about what feels right to you. Best to talk about it now, not negotiate this when your student is actively ill. 

In the past, some families have asked me what happens in the case of a serious medical emergency. North Carolina law generally prohibits healthcare providers from disclosing medical information about individuals who are 18 years of age and older to family and friends without permission of the individual. However, if a student experiences a medical emergency or life-threatening health concern, the University has a robust set of on-call personnel to coordinate response to these incidents, and informing families is a high priority. 

Counseling

The University Counseling Center (UCC) works in a similar fashion. All UCC staff place a high priority on privacy and confidentiality. All communications between a client and a counselor, including the decision regarding whether or not to seek counseling, are confidential to the full extent provided by law and are not released to a specific individual or entity outside the University Counseling Center without a voluntarily signed consent. The UCC can consult with parents and families who are trying to figure out how best to help their student; this can be done while still honoring the confidentiality of the client. 

Financial Matters

In terms of financial matters, tuition notices/bills are sent to the student, not parents/families (even if you are the one paying tuition). We recommend students authorize a third party payer (parent or loved one most often) in DEAC (our electronic payment system) to make sure that all bases are covered. Students must initiate this process; we cannot do it for them.

I have seen sad stories in the past with students who have not authorized their parents/families and who discovered they missed tuition deadlines when they were blocked from registering for courses! Better to have a third party payer authorized so they get the monthly billing emails. Note: only students get emails about holds on their accounts or cancellations, not third party payers, so talk to your ‘24s now about the importance of them checking their WFU email (including junk/spam folder) regularly, lest they miss something important. 

While there are a few narrow exceptions to FERPA and client confidentiality that could allow administrators to disclose student situations to parents and families, it is helpful to begin adjusting to the fact that your students will have increased privacy in their daily college life. 

Communication is key in how each family will navigate these areas. Talk within your family about what you want – and listen to what your student wants – as you negotiate this new way of seeing your child as an emerging adult.

 

— by Betsy Chapman, Ph.D. (’92, MA ’94)

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