In a recent email to the nearly 700 institutional members of the Common Application, Jenny Rickard, the organization’s executive director, characterized the claims contained in the ongoing lawsuit with CollegeNet as “frivolous.” While seeking to assure members, who are currently being approached to renew contracts for next year, of the Common App’s financial security, she suggested that the “millions” spent on the lawsuit might be better spent in other ways—“to innovate and expand.”
To update the membership, Rickard outlined a timeline of “relevant events” related to the case:
- May 2014: CollegeNET files lawsuit against the Common Application alleging antitrust violations.
- November 2014: District court dismisses original 103-page complaint for failure to comply with the federal rules. The court allows CollegeNET to re-file.
- May 2015: District Court dismisses CollegeNET’s complaint on the merits. The court finds that CollegeNET failed to allege antitrust injury.
- September 2015: The Coalition for Access, Affordability and Sccess announces its choice to work with CollegeNET to develop an online undergraduate application for admission for its member schools.
- December 2015: CollegeNET files its opening brief to Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals
- April 2015: CollegeNET rsponds to the Common Application’s opposition brief (briefing cycle complete).
- 2016-2017: appellate court to determine date for oral argument and list of judges to preside over hearing.
- 2017-2018: Appellate Court to issue ruling.
In the meantime, both the Common App and CollegeNET are continuing to make serious financial investments in their respective application platforms to earn what has grown to be a multi-million dollar online college application business increasingly dependent on innovation and customer service.
Toward this end, the Common App recently announced the launch of a “strategic planning process” to outline a “long-term roadmap” for the organization. While asking for input on topics such as gender identity, criminal history and school discipline, the Common App has indicated that plans are taking shape to make adjustments for the coming year, including the “limited release” of a new feature allowing “students to self-report transcript information.”
At the same time, the Coalition for Access, Affordability and Success, which uses CollegeNET as its technology developer, has loosened membership requirements and plans to grow by as much as 30% over the coming year. And through ongoing improvements and enhancements to its technology, the Coalition pledges to continue supporting the “individual and unique admissions processes” of member institutions.
With limited budgets and increased reliance on enrollment management technology, colleges are looking for application platforms that are reliable, responsive, and state-of-the-art. And whichever product can help colleges craft incoming classes in the most efficient and least expensive way possible is likely to earn the business, regardless of how the lawsuit comes out.