Ten Things You Should NOT Do When Waitlisted

1. Do nothing. Law schools give wait-list seats to applicants who are enthusiastic, professional, and persistent. If you don’t want a seat, keep quiet.

2. Call the school once a week. Don’t be a stalker! The wait-list puts you in a delicate situation. You want to show enthusiasm, but you don’t want to bother the admissions committee. You have to use your judgment and gauge when you’re pushing enough and when it’s too much. There is a fine line between keeping the school apprised of your interest/status, and annoying them.

3. Use gimmicks to get attention. Sending a chair to the law school, telling them that it’s an additional seat that they can use for you, will not yield the type of attention you want. Show maturity, professionalism, and sound judgment in all of your communications.

4. Tell the school where else you have been accepted, or that you have not been accepted anywhere else. This tactic will not make you seem more desirable. A school may question your commitment if you tell them about other schools, and there are better ways to tell a school that you will accept a seat if offered.

5. Voluntarily supplement your file with negative or trivial information. Again, this is a process of advocacy; show the committee that you understand. Thoroughly review your application to make sure that you have provided complete answers. Also, creatively identify recent, non-trivial, events in your life that will help your file. Have you initiated a new project at work? Had an article published? Volunteered for a worthy cause? Assumed additional responsibility? If so, supplement your application with a letter detailing these recent accomplishments and how they relate back to your goals.

6. Turn down an interview if it’s offered. Again, law schools want to give wait-list seats to those who are enthusiastic about the school and likely to accept. Skipping the interview shows a lack of commitment, and is a wasted opportunity for you to distinguish yourself and show the law school that you would be a great addition to the law class.

7. Fail to convince the law school that it’s your first choice. Use one of your tri-weekly communications (unless the practice is prohibited) to explain why the school is a perfect fit for you. Limit this letter to no more than two pages, and be careful to avoid plagiarizing or regurgitating from the website. Be sincere and specific in your letter; the law school will recognize and reward it.

8. Ignore weaknesses in your application. You should carefully review your application in an attempt to identify where your weakness lies. Sometimes there is a clue in the school’s wait-list communication. Sudden grade drops, low LSAT re-test scores, or gaps in employment, need to be explained. Prepare a concise, direct, and honest addendum addressing the problem if you haven’t already. If your weakness is your LSAT, be very cautious about re-taking the test; doing so is a large gamble. While a significant increase might get you admitted, any decrease will probably spell disaster for your wait-list campaign. If you are on the wait-list, the school already recognizes that you are qualified to attend—focus on showing what else you bring to the table.

9. Demonstrate inflexibility. If you want to be called from the wait-list, do nothing that limits your chances. For instance, telling a school that you need a final answer by May will not help—even if it’s true. It doesn’t result in you getting any priority on the list, and will call your commitment to the school into question. One way to demonstrate real flexibility is to tell the school that you would consider a spot in its part-time program. This will extend the time needed for your degree, but you can transfer to the full-time program after the first year.

10. Give up all hope. If you really want to go to the school, resist the urge to give up when you didn’t get an offer in July. Schools offer seats all the way up to the first day of class. The applicants who have shown that they haven’t abandoned hope will get those last calls if a seat is available.


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