Any student who is filling the online application form of any University in the US will encounter this question while providing the names and email addresses of the recommenders. ‘Do you wish to waive your right to examine this Letter of Recommendation?’ What does this exactly mean? I will be providing you with the complete information about this below.
The FERPA Act: –
Under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) of 1974, students have access to their education record, including letters of recommendation. However, students may waive their right to see letters of evaluation, in which case the letters will be held in confidence. This simply means that you will have an access to what recommenders have written and how they have rated you after they complete the LOR. If you wish to waive your right then Universities say that the LOR’s are held in confidence, since the LOR has directly been presented to the University without you seeing them.
What to do? Whether to waive it or not?
Firstly, before deciding it you must know that Recommenders will be notified whether you have waived your right or not.
My suggestion would be that you should waive your rights to read the letter of recommendation because it’s more respectful that you allow the Recommenders to rate and express their view on you in privacy. Your recommenders will more likely write something that is extremely complimentary if they know that you have waived your rights and you are not reading it. This is based on the supposition that you picked recommenders that you believe will provide great views about you to the Universities.
Generally with respect to your admissions, they don’t emphasize on whether you have waived your right or not. But waiving your rights gives Universities a greater assurance that the recommendation is more likely to be a genuine reflection of the Recommender’s true thoughts, perspectives and views on you. Not waiving your right might raise the question that: “What does the student need to hide such that they need to view what the recommenders have written and rated in the LOR?” You can see that Universities have mentioned if you waive your rights then the LOR will be a confidential one. So even though Universities give you an option whether to waive it or not, they generally prefer that students should waive it.
Finally, I would like to say that you should waive your rights to examine the LOR. Since you might have chosen the Recommenders who will provide good reviews on you, it will be respectful and ethical to give privacy to the Recommenders to rate you in the LOR. Not waiving your rights doesn’t cause any problem but it’s kind of a social pressure under which you have to decide. To be on the safer side, choose recommenders who will rate you well and waive your rights.
I hope I was able to provide you the complete information on this topic.