Case Studies

The Common Application Benefits By Switching to Diligent Boards™

Common Application found a successful board portal partner in Diligent Boards™

The Common Application is a nonprofit membership organization dedicated to improving access, equity and integrity in the college admissions process. Through the organization’s online application, more than 1 million applicants – over a third of which are first-generation college-going students – apply to college each year. Headquartered in Arlington, Virginia, The Common Application serves more than 750 college and university members across the U.S. and internationally. The organization’s 14-member governing board of directors is comprised of Chief Enrollment and Admissions Officers within Colleges and Universities, Directors of College Counseling and other leaders within the school counseling and college access community.


Prior to making the digital switch to a board governance platform, the organization’s board administrator faced the challenges of using email to communicate with board directors, document version control and an outdated electronic storage system.

“Everything was going back and forth via email,” says Carole Mitchell, Operations Manager, The Common Application. “Our board books in the past were created as PDFs, but there were often a lot of updates — sometimes at the last minute. That meant I had to email each updated PDF to the board directors who had difficulty keeping track of the latest version.”

Compounding the obstacles of using email to send all board materials, Mitchell had to deal with an outdated electronic storage system that her predecessor had set-up a few years before she joined the organization.

“Sensitive board information such as records, contracts and other archives were stored in this outdated system that was costly and cumbersome. A fire in the building had wiped out many of the storage system’s documents that were only accessible by one user,” she explains. “All of this wasn’t working. We simply wanted a secure way to manage the sharing of documents and somewhere to store historical documents.”


While researching board governance platforms, Mitchell learned that several executives and board directors had used Diligent with great results. After evaluating other vendors and seeing a Diligent demo, the choice was clear for The Common Application.

“Implementing the Diligent solution was a simple and seamless experience,” says Mitchell. “I promised the board directors the training would be 30 minutes but they were logged in and using Diligent in less than 20 minutes so everyone was happy.”


The Common Application has seen a variety of benefits since partnering with Diligent.

“We like Diligent because it’s simple for me to upload documents and simple for the board members to review the documents,” says Mitchell. “It’s also easy to create a library of historical documents that I can refer to if needed.”

As for higher levels of version control, Mitchell explains, “Diligent allows me to share the most up-to-date board materials with board directors and restrict access to older versions so they don’t have to bother with keeping track of what’s current or not.”

Mitchell also notes the high level of customer support from the Diligent team.

“The support provided by Diligent is superior,” she says. “Questions from me or from my board members are answered immediately…even when we’ve asked them the same question countless times.”

With plans to expand the board and further their goal to drive access to higher education, The Common Application looks forward to continuing to partner with Diligent. 

“My board directors love Diligent. I tell them when something’s there, where to find it and they do. Simple as that,” Mitchell says.