Law School Waitlists: Advice for the Nervous

In the increasingly long season of law school admissions, waitlist season has gotten longer, too, and waitlists keep expanding. My advice: don’t worry but do what you can to improve your position. Don’t do too much, you don’t want to risk irritating law schools by peppering them with unnecessary information—you are not the only applicant to be waitlisted and you shouldn’t act as it you are.

Waitlists are necessary because many applicants are accepted at many places but can only attend one—and some take a long time to make their decision. So, if you’re waitlisted, you’re still in the running. How many people are accepted off waitlists varies by year and by school—more desirable schools will have more of their offers accepted, so there will be fewer admits off the waitlist (but their waitlists are often smaller, too). But if you’re on it, you have a chance, you just don’t know how good a chance. Don’t drive yourself crazy by trying to see into the crystal ball.

So, what do you do? The first thing is to promptly send a nice letter or e-mail to schools thanking them and accepting your spot (if you’re not interested, you should tell them that promptly, too, so they can offer that slot to someone else).

You should emphasize (one to two paragraphs total length) both the things that attract you about the school and the contributions you’ll make while you’re there. Many people omit the second but it matters—a letter that emphasizes only advantages to you tells law schools something, and it’s not generally something that makes you look good.

If a school is among your top choices, say that. If they are your first choice, say that; If you’d simply accept their offer of admission, say that (but you can only say those to one school).

You may also want to schedule on-campus visits at a few schools, not only because it puts you in front of them but because visits can help make your decision. Visiting various schools, all of which were great, was still important in my decision to go to Yale Law.

Finally, if you have updated information that bears on your application (a new job, promotion, academic achievements, for example), you can update all schools on that and at the same time note your continuing interest in their law school. Law schools don’t want to hear from people willy-nilly or randomly (they’re busy people), but if you have something to tell them that might make a difference, you should tell them. Then, relax, you’ve done your job, and you have to give them time to do theirs.

~ by Kyle Pasewark at Advise-in Solutions on February 21, 2017.

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