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You sent your law school applications months ago with hopes of a speedy acceptance, but you’ve been waitlisted. What can you do while you’re in limbo land?

What does it mean to be waitlisted?

If you’ve been waitlisted, it means the law school has offered acceptances to the number of applicants it can accommodate, but nonetheless thinks you are qualified to study there. In effect, you are an alternate that may or may not be accepted depending on the number of accepted applicants who decide to actually enroll and show up for class. (It is possible that waitlisted applicants may be contacted the first day of class!)

What can you do?

It’s not called a “wait” list for nothing – often you will just need to wait. However, if you really want to go to the school, you should respond to the waitlist letter. The aim of your response should be two-fold: to confirm your interest to attend the school and to gather information.

Confirm your interest and share new qualifications

If you still want to go to the school that has waitlisted you, by all means, let them know! You can say something like, “Thank you for letting me know that I am on your waitlist. I’m excited to know that I am still under consideration at your law school and look forward to hearing more from you soon. Since I sent in my application, I have been involved in some activities/won an award/improved my GPA, etc. ….” Note: if you mention updated grades, send a copy of your latest grade report and let them know that you are sending the CAS an updated transcript.

Gather information

For your own peace of mind and to gauge where you are on the waitlist, feel free to ask the following questions (that is, only if you cannot easily find their answers on the law school’s website).

  • How many people are on the waitlist?
  • Do you have more than one waitlist?
  • Is the waitlist ranked?
  • When is the waitlist cut-off date?
  • How many were called from the waitlist last year?
  • If I am eventually admitted, can I get a deferral?

Requests for more information

Some schools request more information from waitlisted applicants. If you are interested in attending the school, comply quickly and professionally. For example, if they request a transcript, send them a letter letting them know that it’s coming and take the opportunity to once again enthusiastically affirm your interest in their program. In addition, some schools may want you to answer specific questions about your academic record. In this case, do not dodge the question: be forthcoming and take responsibility for your actions.

Some schools may be open to receiving additional information – and leave the choice of information up to you. In this case, you could send an additional letter of recommendation that imparts information about you that was not included in your original application and/or you can write a statement that talks about an aspect of your background that you did not divulge or develop fully in your personal statement.

OK, so what else can you do?

If the school is your first choice, you can also include that in your letter. You can support this claim by visiting the school and calling to let the school know about your most recent activities and your continued interest. But, be careful; if you are told, “Please don’t call us,” cease and desist calling immediately!

After you’ve done all that, all you can do is… wait.