4 strategies to improve a disappointing application season


By Hillary Mantis

“So far, I’ve been rejected by three schools,” Marissa said, during my office hours. “And waitlisted at my top choice school. What else can I do? ”

Marissa met with me in January, having submitted law school applications in early December. There’s a lot that she can still try to improve her application cycle, potentially.

Depending on your circumstances and credentials, there may be a lot you can do too, in terms of mid-course corrections during the application cycle. Since the rolling admissions cycle continues, you could try:

1) Applying to additional law schools: Even though you submitted all of your applications, it does not mean you cannot add more.

Although it is ideal to try to get most of your applications in by November, realistically many law schools still accept applications throughout the winter and early spring. Check your GPA and LSAT score in the LSAC Official Guide to ABA Approved Law Schools chart for more ideas:https://officialguide.lsac.org/release/OfficialGuide_Default.aspx

2) Finding schools with late deadlines: Ideally, you want to apply well before a law school’s deadline, because of rolling admissions. However, if you are not being accepted to schools so far, or are not thrilled with your results, it makes sense to do more research, and find schools that may still be accepting students even into the spring, potentially.

You can check school deadlines on their website. You can also check general resources such as the ABA 509 required disclosures, where you can select the current year, all schools, and The Basics/Academic calendar to see a  general list of law school deadlines and application fees and other very useful information such as employment outcomes, bar pass rates and information about conditional scholarships: http://www.abarequireddisclosures.org/Disclosure509.aspx

3) Working the waitlist: Marissa was so disappointed to be waitlisted at her top choice of school. However, it truly is not over ‘til it’s over. I have had so many former students email me during the spring and summer to tell me that they got in off the waitlist.

Law schools generally will keep their waitlists active even until the first week of classes sometimes, so keep in touch with them, let them know you are still interested, send them any news that might improve your chances potentially (such as an updated transcript or an award you will be receiving at graduation) and try to be flexible as long as possible.

4) Seeing if you can still take another LSAT/GRE: This may be the absolute last strategy you want to hear about, having already taken the LSAT or GRE.

However, you can try to approach a school, especially if you have been waitlisted, to see if a higher score might still be added to your file. Or find out if the school accepts the GRE (for a current list of law schools that accept the GRE, check with www.ets.org.)

Alternatively, if a law school will accept a winter/spring LSAT, you could still potentially take it…one more time.

If you have anything else to add to your application other than a new LSAT score, such as an improved transcript, an updated resume, or other good news that might help you, be sure to let them know.

Hillary Mantis works with pre-law students, law students and lawyers. She is assistant dean for pre-law advising at Fordham University and author of career books, including "Alternative Careers for Lawyers." You can reach her at altcareer@aol.com.