May 2, 2002

C.U. Moves Credentials Files Online

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As of February 1, Cornell Career Services partnered with Interfolio, an online provider of credential services. In the past, the Cornell Career Service Center, located in Barnes Hall, provided the service to Cornellians who desired to maintain a credential file of letters of recommendation and other personal data for a onetime fee of $25.


The credentials file is a valuable aid in securing employment or furthering education, can be used to support application to graduate or professional school, can enhance one’s application for employment, relieves the burden of repeatedly asking reference writers to submit letters of recommendation for various applications and insures confidentiality and prompt distribution of credentials.

Brian Trimmer ’99 set up his credentials file in January of 1999. He took advantage of the service two years later when applying for a job at the Columbia University Genome Center when they asked him for letters of reference.

“I was able to write to the Cornell Credentials Service, request the file of letters of recommendation to be sent to the employer and answer the employer’s request in a timely manner,” Trimmer said. While he had not anticipated using the service back in 1999, he said “I believe [it] was greatly appreciated in the decision making process.”

“A professor’s memory of a student is at its best when the student is in the class, and not many years down the road,” he added.

While Trimmer does not approve of this switch to the use of the more expensive Interfolio service, Scott Grantz, assistant director of health careers and credentials, said, “We have sampled alumni, graduate students, undergraduates and faculty members on this issue. The clear conclusion was that Interfolio provides a better credentials service, especially for alumni that are geographically distant from the Ithaca campus.”


Similarly, he said “We needed to make the system more accessible to users. We often received requests for payments to be made by credit card and complaints about the sticky label process.”

Interfolio has recently formed partnerships with leading schools across the country including Columbia, NYU, Georgetown and the University of Chicago. The website promises: “We are the cheapest and easiest way for a Ph.D. to send academic credentials to a search committee, a teacher to send a teaching portfolio to a hiring district and for an undergraduate to send application materials to graduate and professional schools.”

Interfolio provides new benefits to students to make management of their credential files easier. “We’re excited about this change because Interfolio offers many benefits for students and alumni,” stated the Cornell Career Services newsletter.

According to the newsletter, the benefits include: 24-hour access to credentials files via the Internet; faster processing time (since Interfolio offers a variety of mailing options, requests are guaranteed to go out within one business day and priority requests made by 2 p.m. will go out the same day); distribution requests are accepted online, which eliminates the hassle of paperwork, typed sticky mailing labels or waiting for a mailed distribution request form to arrive; payment can be made by credit card; documents are guaranteed confidentiality by federal privacy regulations; people have the option of uploading resumes and writing samples, and writers can send their letters via the internet.

Having paid $25 for a onetime user fee, Trimmer was not pleased with the new fee of $39 for five years with Interfolio, or one year for $12. In addition, Trimmer complained, “There is a significant difference between an employer receiving a credentials file from Interfolio and an employer receiving a credentials file from Cornell. While Cornell cites the fact that other universities are going this route, the fact is, I do not believe it is an appropriate route for Cornell, and for its alumni.”

“Let other universities get impersonal, not stand behind [their] alumni, but if Cornell stands behind its own, Cornell students would fare much better.” He also raised questions about a potential “breach of contract.”

Both Grantz and Karin Ash, the director of Cornell Career Services, remain firmly in favor of the Interfolio service. “I want to make sure that you understand that Cornell Career Services is still here for advice regarding letters of recommendation and Interfolio is simply taking over the transactional piece of this service,” said Grantz. The Center promises the office will not destroy any file without written consent and similarly gives graduates who have already paid this twenty-five dollar fee a pin code for $25 off the Interfolio fee. Similarly, the Cornell Career Services logo will appear on the cover sheet, along with an explanation of the partnership between Cornell and Interfolio.

“Most users are either closing their file because they no longer need it or the contents are outdated, or they are transitioning their file to Interfolio,” notes Grantz. No decision has been made, however, as to what to do about the small number of people that do not wish to transition to Interfolio or close their file. “Since we did not wish to rush this transaction,” said Grantz, “a complete timeline has not been established.”

Archived article by Alison Levine