Waitlisted, or just waiting? What to do now!

We’re hearing from a lot of law school applicants who have submitted their applications and now find themselves either waitlisted or still waiting to hear back. Here are some helpful tips and pointers to help you position yourself in the best manner for admission and aid!

If you’re still waiting for an admission decision…
You are NOT alone!
Many applicants tell us they have been waiting weeks or months. What is going on? It could mean:

  • The school is essentially “wait listing” you, but not calling it that, by waiting to respond to you until they see the rest of the applicant pool.
  • The admissions office is understaffed or inundated with applications. (Many schools are reporting an increase of applications this year, with nationwide applications up about 14% over last year.)
  • You applied later in the cycle and a backlog of applications must be reviewed before yours.

What can you do if you are still waiting on an answer?

  • IF it has been at least 4-6 weeks or whatever time frame the school has indicated for your file to be reviewed, reach out and politely inquire about anticipated time frames for a decision. Reiterate your interest in the school.
  • Review your status checker
  • Follow the law school on Twitter; many deans have taken to updating applicants about expected decisions there.
  • Don’t: Complain about their slowness or criticize the school’s process; tell them you’ve already heard back from everywhere else or from “better” schools; give the school a deadline. Sometimes patience is key.

If you’ve been waitlisted…Understand what this means: that you are an admissible candidate but the school needs to hit its institutional goals before they can admit you. Institutional goals could be LSAT/GPA related but could also be related to balancing the class with regard to gender, diversity, in state/out of state, age, etc. Very few schools can accurately predict how many applicants–and with what qualities–they will be pulling from a wait list. When the school tells you they don’t know your odds, it is very likely true.

What can you do if you are waitlisted?

  • Follow the school’s directions carefully. Do not email to ask them what to do after the school sends very specific instructions. Some law schools will ask you to confirm that you want to be on their wait list–if you don’t do so, you will not be considered. Pay attention to these details and instructions and follow them carefully.
  • Visit the school if you haven’t already. Making a strong impression on an admissions professional can go a long way toward being selected when it’s time for them to pull from the wait list.
  • Update your application by sending an updated resume, a new recommendation, or a letter or email expressing continued interest in that school (sometimes called a LOCI, or letter of continued interest).
  • Stay in touch–no more than once every couple of weeks–to demonstrate your interest in the school. Keep them updated on your plans. IF the school is your top choice, then say so.
  • Continue to make other plans. No one should proceed by “expecting” to be pulled from a wait list…even if this does happen, it can be anytime up to the day classes begin. You need to start making concrete plans in early April. Decide which law school you will attend out of those who accepted you. Make plans for putting down your deposit(s).
  • Don’t demand a decision right now…you may get one but it will not be the one you want.

Be “pleasantly persistent” as we move into April and May, which are prime decision-making times for schools as their deposit deadlines pass. And always remember that professionalism and good manners go a long way in this business!

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