Discovering that you have been wait-listed at your dream law school may cause you to despair. Keep in mind that while being placed on the wait list was certainly not the news for which you were hoping, you still very much have a chance of attending your top choice law school.
You should take advantage of this opportunity to clearly demonstrate your unflappable commitment to attending this specific law school, if accepted.
Here are tips to help you successfully navigate the admissions process after receiving your wait list notification and win acceptance.
1. Send a letter of continuing interest: The purpose of this letter is to reaffirm your desire to go to this particular school and provide updates that could positively influence the admissions committee's ultimate decision, such as awards, new grades, or a promotion at work. Remember that admissions officers want to accept students who will ultimately attend their school, so clearly emphasize if a school is your top choice.
It is not a good idea, however, to flood the inbox at the admissions office. Do not send more than one letter or E-mail per month. Be sure to check the school's website before sending any additional materials as some schools explicitly say that students on the wait list should not send further information. In that case, you should respect the school's wait list rules.
2. Visit the school: Even if you have already visited a particular school, if it is financially feasible, do so again! Make sure to schedule your visit in advance with the admissions office so that the admissions staff is aware of your visit and you receive "credit" for making this effort. A visit will confirm your interest and commitment to the school—or perhaps make you realize it is not your first choice after all.
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3. Send an additional letter of recommendation: If you choose to submit another recommendation to improve your chances of admittance, be sure to choose a recommender with a fresh perspective. The new letter should highlight key aspects about you that your original recommendations did not touch on.
If your other recommenders were professors, perhaps ask a work supervisor or coach to recommend you. These individuals can provide insight into your professional and extracurricular accomplishments as well as your leadership potential.
4. Reflect on your application: You need to understand the potential weaknesses in your application in order to fill in any gaps and improve your chances of being accepted off the wait list.
If your LSAT score is lower than you believe it could be, consider taking the June LSAT to increase your score. Many schools will consider the June score for wait-listed candidates. If you decide to retake the LSAT, you may want to take a class or consider private tutoring to maximize your improvement.
Update the school on any new achievements or activities with a letter, as mentioned above.
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5. Be patient: Your wait may continue into the summer, so be patient and remain positive. Don't think that because it has been a long time you have no chance of being admitted off the wait list. Spend your summer preparing for your 1L year and enjoying your last weeks of freedom.
I recently worked with Vadim, who dreamed of attending a certain top law school in Manhattan, given his strong desire to pursue a career in international intellectual property law in New York. The entire summer went by, but he remained on the wait list. However, he did not give up, and we continued to follow these steps.
While he was sitting in the first day of orientation at his second choice law school in Washington, he received a call from his dream school welcoming him—just a couple days before classes began. So, he rented another U-Haul and made the four-hour journey back to New York with his belongings. He has never regretted his decision.
What schools are you waiting to hear back from, and what measures are you taking to improve your chances of being admitted? Let me know in the comments, E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org, or contact me via Twitter at @StratusPrep.