What you should do if you are waitlisted for law school


By Hillary Mantis

I don’t remember an admissions cycle where I’ve seen so many law school applicants waitlisted. Some applicants are waitlisted at five law schools or more. This seems to be the year of the waitlist. What is going on?

Applications were way up in this particular application cycle. So presumably, it might be tougher to be accepted. But until they receive deposits, law schools are not sure how many accepted applicants will actually attend. So it makes sense that there might be a lot of applicants waitlisted.

Here are five tips to get through the anxiety producing period of time that you are on the waitlist!

-Be Prepared To Wait Throughout Spring and Summer: The waitlist will continue until classes actually start at some schools. They may not know how many spots they have available, as of now. “Many schools will not be going to their waitlists until after first or second deposits,” according to Stephen Brown, assistant dean of enrollment at Fordham University School of Law.

Try to be patient, and flexible. If you can hold off on signing an apartment lease, for example, that might help you, in case you end up in a different city. I have known applicants who were admitted the week before classes started to a school in a different part of the country, who switched gears last minute and did attend the school.

-Be Prepared To Make A Quick Decision: If you do get in off of the waitlist during the spring or summer, you may have to let the school know quickly if you will attend. I have heard of some top rated schools only giving applicants only a few days to commit when they were admitted from the waitlist. So do your research now. If you got admitted, would you attend? What if you were admitted without a merit scholarship? “Schools that admit you off the waitlist may or may not be able to award scholarship aid, as their pools have been so strong,” Brown said.

Crunch the numbers, visit the schools if possible, do your research (I recommend looking at the ABA Standard 509 Disclosure Reports for each school, which will give you bar pass rates, employment stats and other information), so you can make a quick decision.

-Keep In Touch With The Schools: If you were waitlisted, you probably wrote a LOCI (letter of continued interest). But beyond that, keep in touch with the schools to let them know that you are still interested. Follow the directions that each school gives you regarding the waitlist. They may have school specific information.

-Be Responsive: “If you are not going to take the offer, tell the school,” Brown said. “Not telling the school does not hurt the school, but hurts other waitlisted applicants.”

-Be Realistic: This was an extremely competitive admissions cycle. “There were many applicants for fewer spots this year on law school waitlists,” Brown said. So, research the schools you did get accepted to and make a decision based on your acceptances, without counting on the schools you are waitlisted at. If you do get in, it will be a nice surprise. If you don’t, you will have had time to analyze your offers, and hopefully find a school that fits your needs.

Hillary Mantis consults with pre-law students, law students and lawyers. She is the author of “Alternative Careers for Lawyers” and assistant dean of the pre-law advising program at Fordham University. You can reach her at altcareer@aol.com