How to tell if Your College is Careful with Personal Information?

By Brenda on October 1st, 2011


With the numerous stories, or nightmares, pumped through the media waves on identity theft, college students are not immune to the problem.  In fact, research studies from the University of Rochester have reported that college students are some of the hardest hit when it comes to identity theft.

Due to these problems, colleges and universities are cracking down on the protection of personal data among students.  When identity theft occurs, some colleges have been to blame and because of this, security is being re-enforced.

Is your school for or against your privacy?

  • Social security number used as ID

This may come as a shock, but some schools actually use social security numbers of their students as their identification, or college ID.  It is easy to tell if your school is careful or lax when it comes to personal data and information about their students if social security numbers are put on ID cards, registration papers, posted grades or any other publicly rendered document.  If you notice your school doing this, it is important that you personally request another number be issued as your college ID.

  • School mailboxes are not secure

Is it easy to break into your school mailbox?  If so, your identification and personal data may be compromised.  Some school mailboxes lack secure locking mechanisms and may be easy for anyone to open with a simple jiggle of the lock.  Most campus mailboxes are used via the business and financial aid offices.  Sensitive documents may be sent through campus mail that contains bank information or any other personal data you do not want leaked.

If you have a mailbox that is easy to break into, request another or use your parent’s home address for all mail.  Your registrar or financial aid office can take care of the updates.

  • College doesn’t have a privacy policy in full swing

Believe it or not, some colleges do not have an active privacy policy or one that they enforce.  A good privacy policy should include information outlining what kind of data is collected about their students.  It should also address how they use the data collected and the rights that the student has with regard to the information gathered.  If your school does not have a privacy policy on their website or in the material you receive from them, chances are it is not of high priority.  It is wise to inquire with your school’s business office regarding the privacy policy.

  • Studies are conducted using personal information

This one could be difficult to find out about, but the research and development office of your school should be able to help if you inquire.  Permission should always be given if the school intends to use personal information that it gathers from its students and shares it with other schools or off-campus companies.  If information is gathered and you have never signed a permission slip then there is a problem.  While most schools do their best to protect their students, it is up to the students to ultimately take care of themselves.


Category: Online Degrees,Other and General