The Federal Family Education Rights and Privacy Act of 1974, as amended (the “Buckley amendment”), provides students with the right to access their educational records. In the case of recommendations, the law provides that a student, if he or she chooses, may waive that right. Students should determine whether or not their interests will be best served by accessible recommendations. The student's decision to waive his or her right of access must be a consistent one for all recommendations including the Premedical Committee Letter. Because letters are transmitted as part of a committee letter packet, it is not possible to waive the right of access to some, but not to other letters in the file.
The Premedical Committee's Stance on Right of Access
The Premedical Committee recommends that students waive their right of access to letters of recommendation. Confidential letters will be written and submitted by faculty and others with the explicit understanding that they will be read only by the Premedical Committee and medical school admissions committees.
The presumption is that letters to which a student has waived his or her right of access are more candid assessments than letters to which the student has retained this right. If a student does not trust that a reference will be satisfactory, he or she will probably do better not to request it, rather than retaining the right to review it. Students considering retaining their right of access to their recommendation letters are encouraged to discuss this with their premedical advisors.
If a student has waived the right of access to their letters, the committee will discard any letter which it learns he or she has read. Students should therefore politely, but firmly decline to accept copies of recommedation letters from their referees.
The Recommendation Letter Waiver form is the vehicle through which students record their decision about accessibility. A completed copy of this form must be given to each referee and every recommendation letter must be accompanied by this form.