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Articles / Applying to College / How Do Colleges Protect Students' Personal Information?

June 25, 2017

How Do Colleges Protect Students' Personal Information?

Question:I am concerned about the safety of students information in college registration office. Is it possible, that the college lost students records and information due to, for instance, cyber attack? I want to know more about what measures, do the college generally have, to prevent the lost of students records?

From my own experience (having just cut up a compromised credit card for at least the third time in two years), personal information is never completely immune from cyber attack or from more garden-variety theft. I don't have the expertise to tell you how colleges safeguard student records, but all of us have seen enough databases invaded—even when they are purportedly secure—to be skeptical that anything that goes into writing can be fully protected.


I must say that I've been impressed by how quickly the “Fraud" departments at the banks that oversee my credit cards have identified bogus charges (even before I did) when my card numbers fell into the wrong hands. Granted, it probably didn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that a 65-year-old woman might not have blown 700 bucks at GameStop, but some of the other spurious charges that the Fraud folks caught weren't so large or so blatantly out of line with my usual spending habits. But, nonetheless, a speedy reaction to stolen data doesn't mean that personal information isn't still circulating where it shouldn't be.

If you have particular concerns about the security of your own information at the college you currently attend, you should speak directly to an official at the Office of the Registrar to ask how this data is maintained. Your school's Information Technology department may also be able to provide an explanation that is more ... well ... technical, than what the Registrar can offer. My best guess is that there are reliable back-up systems in place that make it unlikely that student information will be lost, but it's probably impossible to guarantee that it will never ever end up where it shouldn't be.

Written by

Sally Rubenstone

Sally Rubenstone

Sally Rubenstone knows the competitive and often convoluted college admission process inside out: From the first time the topic of college comes up at the dinner table until the last duffel bag is unloaded on a dorm room floor. She is the co-author of Panicked Parents' Guide to College Admissions; The Transfer Student's Guide to Changing Colleges and The International Student's Guide to Going to College in America. Sally has appeared on NBC's Today program and has been quoted in countless publications, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, USA Weekend, USA Today, U.S. News & World Report, Newsweek, People and Seventeen. Sally has viewed the admissions world from many angles: As a Smith College admission counselor for 15 years, an independent college counselor serving students from a wide range of backgrounds and the author of College Confidential's "Ask the Dean" column. She also taught language arts, social studies, study skills and test preparation in 10 schools, including American international schools in London, Paris, Geneva, Athens and Tel Aviv. As senior advisor to College Confidential since 2002, Sally has helped hundreds of students and parents navigate the college admissions maze. In 2008, she co-founded College Karma, a private college consulting firm, with her College Confidential colleague Dave Berry, and she continues to serve as a College Confidential advisor. Sally and her husband, Chris Petrides, became first-time parents in 1997 at the ripe-old age of 45. So Sally was nearly an official senior citizen when her son Jack began the college selection process, and when she was finally able to practice what she had preached for more than three decades.

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