Navigating Post-Admissions

 

The arrival of March marks a significant point in the application cycle.  Many schools have final application deadlines, applicants begin receiving admissions decisions, waitlists are populated, and admitted student events begin.  It is an important time for applicants as you are now able to begin making the final decisions in your law school admission journey!

Below we have provided some helpful tips and insights on common aspects on the post-admissions process to assist you as you navigate this next stage.

Making the Final Decision

Tip #1: Get organized!  There is a lot of information to keep track of in the post-admission process from deadlines to details of your admissions offers.  It is important to have this information well organized, not only to keep track of important obligations, but to also assist you in fairly evaluating each school and making your final decision.  We HIGHLY recommend summarizing and organizing information and details into one document.  Consider creating a spreadsheet that includes the follow information for each school you have applied to:

        • Name of School
        • Admission Decision/Status
        • Seat Deposit Deadline
        • Admitted Student Event(s) Dates
        • Admissions Office Contact
        • Scholarship Offer
        • Tuition
        • Cost of Attendance (COA)
        • Any admissions process/steps/deadlines specific to the school.

In addition, you should personalize your spreadsheet to include details about the different aspects of law school that are important to you – distance from home, ranking, placement information, bar passage, clinic and curriculum offerings, class sizes, etc.  Remember to check out the ABA 509 Reports to gain helpful information about each school.

Tip #2: Make connecting with schools a priority. Some students have strong preferences for law schools and making final decisions after being admitted is clear and easy.  For most students, law school preferences may change as you learn more information about the schools, receive scholarship offers, or your personal goals become more defined.  If you are having difficulty making decisions about schools, or there is important information that you feel you are missing, reach out!

      • Participate in a virtual visit – ask about virtually attending a class!
      • Ask about opportunities to speak with current students, professors, career advisors, or alumni!
      • Research the website and other sources to find answers to your questions!
      • Ask how to learn more about the community where the law school is located if you are not familiar!

Tip #3: Create a roadmap for your decision-making process.  If you are juggling multiple offers of admission, or are currently waitlisted, this can be overwhelming.  You do not have to make every decision at the same time.  Break the decision-making process into manageable steps, set a personal timeline, and consider the following:

        • Make easy decisions first. It might be hard to make the final decision on what school you will ultimately attend, particularly if you are still waiting on admissions decisions or have been waitlisted.  However, it can often be easy to eliminate a few schools that you know you will not attend.  If you have an offer of admission that you know you will not accept over another school – eliminate the school you know you will not attend from consideration.  Be sure to inform the schools that you are withdrawing from consideration.  Congratulations your decision-making circle just got smaller!
        • Be mindful of deadlines. You should be sure to calendar any deadlines that might be upcoming – including seat deposits.  The seat deposit is your method of committing to a school and holding your offer of admission/seat.  DO NOT MISS THIS DEADLINE!  Seat deposits typically occur in April meaning you still have several weeks to gather information and make some decisions.  Keep the following in mind:
            • Confirm the amount of your seat deposit and budget accordingly.
            • The Seat Deposit Conundrum: Paying seat deposits at multiple schools is generally not advisable. Although most schools will not prohibit this practice, there are some negative aspects to this strategy.  In addition to being costly, some schools may have specific guidelines and restrictions related to multiple seat deposits. Ask yourself why you would employ this strategy? If there are factors that you feel will make it difficult for you to make a final decision, spend the next several weeks evaluating and gaining more insights.  If this relates to scholarship offers, make inquiries now (more on that below).  Law schools expect you to be negotiating in good faith in all matters, if you know you will not attend a school you should not pay a deposit.  Also, waitlist status is not the same as paying multiple seat deposits. Remaining waitlisted while paying a seat deposit at an alternative school is perfectly acceptable. Visit our prior blog post about seat deposits to learn more insights.
          • Consider how long you will remain waitlisted. Some schools will maintain waitlists up to fall Orientation (and indeed a few students are offered admission during this time each year).  You may remain on a waitlist and pay a seat deposit at another school, however, consider how long you are willing to remain on a waitlist.  For most students, remaining on a waitlist through the summer is impractical and stressful – logistically you may be relocating to a new community across country, the stress of uncertainty may be too great, or financially you may not be able to afford to lose seat deposits at your initial school of choice. Set a personal deadline for yourself on when you will withdrawal from a pending waitlist – keeping in mind your deadline might vary between schools.  If you choose to stay on a waitlist past your initial seat deposit, try to narrow to one waitlisted school.

Cost and Evaluating Scholarships

We hear from many students each year that affordability is one of the most important factors in their choice of law school.  As you consider multiple scholarship offers or costs between differing institutions keep in mind the following:

      • Differences in tuition and fees.  Is tuition fixed for all three years?
      • Cost of living/Cost of Attendance
      • The specifics of scholarship terms: Is it renewable for all three years? Is it conditioned in some way?
      • Consider other factors such as travel cost to see family and friends.

Negotiations: While some schools do have non-negotiation policies, most schools are open to requests for reconsideration of initial scholarship offers.  It is important to approach these conversations in a professional manner, keeping in mind the goals for your request. Consider the following in your efforts…

    • Make sure you know the school’s policy. If a school allows requests, they may have a defined process for submitting requests.  They may ask you to complete a form or that you submit documents to support your request, including proof of alternative offers – be prepared to do so.  If you are uncertain of the process just ask via email or phone.
    • Be reasonable and realistic. Scholarship offers from peer schools, with similar costs will be most comparable. Difference in tuition, COA, reputation, and your comparative credentials should all be considered when evaluating offers.  The value of a $25,000 at one school may cover a much greater portion of your expenses than a $35,000 scholarship at another school.  Focus on your primary goal of affordability, not dollar amounts.
    • Be Positive and Professional. Even if you are disappointed by an offer or feel it is not fair, be professional and positive in your interactions. Keep in mind that schools have spent a great deal of time considering your initial offer and by offering you admission they see you as someone who will be a great addition to their class.  Be positive and avoid framing your request in defined absolutes, accusations, or threats.  Focus on your goals and why the initial offer is concerning to you.
    • Remember your long-term goals. You are making a long-term investment.  Looking at the potential total dollar amount can be very overwhelming, but remember you will pay this debt back over time.  If you are concerned, reach out to financial aid experts to understand better the likely repayment costs per month and loan forgiveness programs, take advantage of resources like AccessLex, ask schools about loan repayment support or future scholarship opportunities once you are a law student.  If a school costs more, but you feel it will better support your goals and long-term success – focus on the long-term benefit.

Waitlisted

Being waitlisted can be very discouraging, particularly if it is at one or more of your preferred schools.  Waitlists can be evaluated similarly to offers of admission – maintain waitlist status only for schools that you would realistically attend if offered admission. Below are a few tips for waitlisted students.

    • Continue interacting with the school to learn more. Set-up a virtual visit and seek additional information that would be helpful in your consideration.
    • If you have new, positive, and substantive information to provide, do so now. This may be new details on your resume or an updated transcript for your fall grades.
    • Consider writing a letter of continued interest if you remain on the waitlist for several weeks.
    • Decide how long you are willing to remain waitlisted at a school.
    • Determine your best choice among the schools you have been offered admission and plan to pay the seat deposit at this school by the deadline.  The waitlist is uncertain, you will want to be sure to have secured your best choice with your seat deposit, even if you remain waitlisted at your top choice.
  • For more tips and insights, visit our prior blog posting.

 

Bonus:  Some schools will conduct spring interviews.  Be sure to check out our prior blog post regarding interviews and reach out to our office for some general insights!

Still Struggling with Questions?

If you are struggling with your final admissions decisions or navigating the process, do not hesitate to set-up an advising appointment.  We are here to help you with advice and insights on any aspect of your final decision-making process.  You can set-up an advising appointment at any time through our online system.

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