Should I Waive My Right to View Letters of Recommendation?

As high school students embark on the journey of applying to colleges, they are faced with numerous decisions that can impact their future. From selecting the right schools to crafting compelling personal statements, every step of the process requires careful consideration. Among these decisions is whether to waive the right to see letters of recommendation—a choice that can significantly influence the perception of both applicants and admissions officers. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the importance of waiving this right, providing insights and strategies to help students navigate this crucial aspect of the college application process.

Also read How to Write Scholarship Recommendation Letter (Tips, Examples)

Understanding the Role of Letters of Recommendation

Before delving into the specifics of waiving the right to see letters of recommendation, it is essential to understand their significance in the college admissions process. Letters of recommendation offer admissions officers valuable insights into an applicant’s character, accomplishments, and potential contributions to the academic community. They provide a personalized perspective that complements the quantitative data presented in transcripts and standardized test scores, offering a more holistic view of each applicant.

Requesting Letters of Recommendation

The process of requesting letters of recommendation requires careful planning and consideration. Here are some key steps to keep in mind:

  1. Choose Your Recommenders Wisely: Select individuals who are familiar with your academic abilities, extracurricular involvement, and personal character. Ideally, these should be teachers, mentors, or supervisors who can speak to your qualifications and potential.
  2. Provide Adequate Information: When requesting letters of recommendation, offer your recommenders relevant information such as a resume, academic transcripts, and a personal statement. This will help them tailor their letters to highlight your strengths and achievements effectively.
  3. Respect Their Time: Approach your recommenders with courtesy and gratitude, acknowledging the time and effort required to write a thoughtful letter. Be sure to give them ample notice and provide clear instructions regarding deadlines and submission requirements.

The Importance of Waiving Your Right

Now, let’s explore why it is crucial to waive your right to see letters of recommendation:

  1. Demonstrates Trust: Waiving your right signals to your recommenders that you trust their judgment and professionalism. This encourages them to write candid and honest assessments of your qualifications without the fear of scrutiny or interference.
  2. Enhances Credibility: Admissions officers place greater value on letters of recommendation that are submitted confidentially, as they perceive them as more authentic and unbiased. Waiving your right reinforces your commitment to transparency and integrity in the application process.
  3. Avoids Misinterpretation: Retaining the option to view your letters of recommendation may raise concerns among admissions officers about your intentions and trustworthiness. By waiving this right, you eliminate any ambiguity and reassure them of your sincerity and respect for the process.

Also see How to write a Motivation Letter for Scholarship (With Example)

How to Waive Your Right

Waiving your right to see letters of recommendation is a straightforward process that can be done through the Common Application or similar platforms. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Complete the FERPA Waiver: When adding colleges to your application, you will encounter a section related to the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). Here, you will be asked to indicate whether you waive or retain your right to access your letters of recommendation.
  2. Choose Wisely: Carefully consider the implications of your decision and select the option that aligns with your trust in your recommenders and confidence in the admissions process.
  3. Understand the Implications: Your decision to waive your right will be communicated to both your recommenders and admissions officers, influencing their perceptions of your candidacy. Be prepared to stand by your choice and uphold the principles of integrity and transparency.


As students navigate the complex landscape of the college application process, the decision to waive the right to see letters of recommendation emerges as a pivotal choice. By understanding the significance of this decision and its implications for both applicants and admissions officers, students can approach the process with clarity and confidence. By trusting in their recommenders and demonstrating integrity in their application, students can enhance the credibility of their candidacy and position themselves for success in the competitive world of college admissions.