Students face problems with online eval. system

by Zana Bugaighis | 11/17/04 6:00am

Students hoping to get a head start on graduate school admissions have recently encountered problems trying to use Dartmouth Career Services' Letters of Evaluation Online system.

LEO, an online credentials service that the College runs to compile letters of recommendation for students and alumni before sending them to prospective schools and employees, was out of commission from Thursday until 6 p.m. Tuesday.

Career Services employee Ursula Hibbert-Olender said the system error resulted from a problem with the College's machine room, the epicenter of Dartmouth's network.

"LEO is back up and running and we will be able to honor all outstanding requests in one to three days," Hibbert-Olender said.

The only requests accepted over the past few days were those that required a Nov. 15 deadline. This policy did not apply to law school, medical school or job applications, which have rolling admissions, causing students who had hoped to get ahead in the process a lot of frustration. Because applying early in the rolling process typically increases a candidate's chances of admissions, many students had hoped to beat the Thanksgiving rush of application submissions.

Instead of filing their requests online for Career Services to send their recommendations, many students and alumni phoned and e-mailed in requests to make Nov. 15 deadlines.

Annette Hamilton of Career Services said the office is now processing requests manually and should be back on track soon.

"Since many things can go wrong with a server, we have paper backup of all student files and are fully capable of honoring time-sensitive requests," said Hibbert-Olender.

Career Services did not send a mass e-mail about the server problem, and confused students were left wondering why they could no longer access their files. When attempting to access LEO, an error page popped up without any explanation of the situation or when it would be resolved.

Jaclyn Johnson '05 said she had hoped to have her application materials all finished by the end of Thanksgiving break.

"It's just annoying not knowing what the status is on them," said Johnson, who still has two letters waiting to be sent.

LEO was implemented last winter to expedite the letter of recommendation file service already in place. Where it used to take up to 10 days to process a letter request, the current system allows for a three to five day processing time. When it is working, Career Services boasts that the system is beneficial in its ability to "access your file at any time," and "assure prompt mailings of letters."

For students applying to law school, the Law School Admission Council also has a letter of recommendation service in place. Students may prefer LEO to LSAC, though, because of its typically faster processing time, the ability to send out dean's certifications that are not handled by LSAC and better customer relations.