Waiting Game: What to do after submitting your application

By Rachel Margiewicz

After working diligently throughout undergrad to earn high grades, forming relationships with professors for letters of recommendation, writing all of your application essays and preparing for months to take the LSAT, you’ve finally submitted your application(s)! Now what?

The waiting game begins.

Here are some tips on how to handle the stress and manage your time while you (im)patiently wait for decisions.


1. Be certain all necessary documents are submitted.

Before turning off your brain completely:

a) confirm that each school received all the required documents and that your application is ready for review,

b) double check that the letters of recommendation were properly submitted together with all of your transcripts,

c) make certain you received an “application complete” e-mail from the law school or other documentation to verify your “complete” status before moving on to other things.


2. Take a well-deserved break.

Admissions offices break for the holidays and you should too! While you wait for a decision, the best possible use of your time may be to spend it with family and friends. Go to the movies, volunteer, read a great book, or just binge Netflix all day. Do anything that is engaging and that will distract you from the application process.

If you submit your applications mid-semester, this might mean only taking an afternoon off because you still have work and/or school. Nevertheless, you should reward yourself for all of your hard work leading up to this moment!


3. Utilize the online status checker, but do not overdo it.

Most (but not all) law schools will send an e-mail with a link to an online status checker. This allows you to monitor the progress of your application as it moves from “complete” to “in review,” and finally, when a decision has been made.

This tool can be a blessing or a curse. It can be wonderful because it allows you to see that your application is not just sitting idle. For many, it may also be the first place that you see a final decision on your application. The online status checker might update hours or days before your official paperwork is received via e-mail or through the mail.

However, you must refrain from compulsively checking the website. For many, the status checker leads to more unnecessary stress and anxiety when there is no apparent progress. This does not mean your application is not actively being reviewed.

To help minimize stress, you can set up a calendar reminder every Friday to only check your status then, or (once you know your application is complete) simply ignore this tool altogether. Whatever you do, don’t waste your day repeatedly hitting ‘refresh.’


4. Do not compare yourself to others.

Try not to read too much into other students’ decisions. It can be difficult not to compare yourself to others who receive decisions before you, but that does not mean you will not be admitted!

Schools generally will admit their strongest candidates first, meaning those that were above their 50th or 75th percentile for GPA and LSAT from the previous year (or for this year’s target). Even if you are not included in the initial wave of admissions, rest assured that this does not mean you will not also be admitted.

At the same time, remember to be sensitive about sharing your good news with others who may still be waiting on their decisions.


5. Focus on classes so you can submit additional grades.

Although it is incredibly exciting to think about your future law school dreams hanging in the balance, you still have work to do right now. Remember that law schools will be interested in reviewing your final transcripts.

Throw your nervous energy into studying for exams and making sure you will be exactly what a law school is seeking in a future student. Remember, if you are waitlisted or have not received a decision by January, you can send in your fall semester transcript for additional consideration to help boost your chances of admission. A high fall semester GPA might be just what you need to receive an admissions letter.


6. Respect the timelines given.

Respect the timelines the admissions office gives you. If they inform you it requires 6–8 weeks to return a decision, do not start emailing their office in week two inquiring about your status. The admissions staff is incredibly busy this time of year processing and reviewing all the applications submitted. Rest assured, they did not forget about your application and you will get a decision back as soon as they are able to make one.


7. Schedule a school visit.

Be proactive about researching schools. Scheduling a visit is one of the best ways to determine if a school is right for you. Most schools offer a tour, a meeting with an admissions counselor, and the opportunity to sit in on a 1L class.

Know that this is not a back door way of securing an interview for yourself and you should not treat it as such. The visit is intended to be insightful and beneficial to your decision-making process (not theirs).

Overall, waiting to hear back from law schools can be a very long and stressful process. There are things that you can and should be doing to put your mind at ease and help make your final decision on which law school to attend when you receive your admission letters.

Rachel Margiewicz is the director of Pre-Law Services with JD Advising, a law school and bar exam preparation company offering services ranging from LSAT tutoring and application assistance to bar exam tutoring, courses, and seminars. She is a licensed attorney who spent five years working in law school admissions, successfully coaching applicants through the admissions process.

You can follow Ms. Margiewicz and the JD Advising team on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn. Additional resources, including daily blog posts, are available at www.JDAdvising.com.