What to expect on the waitlist

Published May 5, 2017

Applying to law school is an exciting step in your life, but it can also be a long and stressful process. All applicants hope to be admitted to their preferred school, but sometimes the process can take an unexpected turn if you are placed on the waitlist.

What may seem like law admissions purgatory actually may turn into an offer of admission, if you are willing to take the chance and wait. When an admissions committee reviews the waitlist, they consider several factors when deciding who to admit. If you are placed on the waitlist, the first thing you should do is to call or email the admissions office to let them know you would like to remain on the waitlist and would attend if you were admitted off of the waitlist. As the saying goes: “The squeaky wheel gets the oil.” This is not to say you should be calling and emailing every day, once a month is sufficient to keep you on the radar of the admissions committee.

Most law schools accept additional letters of recommendation or updated resumes to add to your application file. Be sure to check with the admissions office prior to sending anything to see if they will take additional documents. It is likely they will prefer the documents electronic for so they can easily add them to your application file without having to scan a hard copy.

At the point of applying to law school, your GPA is likely finalized, with only tenths of a point that can be changed by a final semester. However, if you have not exceeded the number of times you can take the LSAT (no more than three times in any two-year period); you should consider taking it for a higher score. This is especially helpful if you are weak on the GPA side. Taking the LSAT again also the admissions committee know that you are making an effort to improve your chances of being admitted.

While being on the waitlist is not the ideal situation, it is better than being denied, and it lets you know that you have qualities that the admissions committee is looking for. The longer you are willing to remain on the waitlist, the less competition you will face. “Many applicants withdraw from the list to avoid forfeiting deposits they've placed at other schools – and for the sanity of knowing where they'll be studying in the fall.” (U.S. News) If you can hold out long enough, and continue to communicate your interest in being admitted off the waitlist, it may just become a reality.

Amber Melvin '13 is the Marketing and Recruitment Coodinator for the Office of Admissions.

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