Keep Calm and Trust the System: Advice from a Below-Both-Medians Student Who Got Accepted to Her (T-14) Dream School
Your LSAT didn’t go as well as planned, and you swear you remember your GPA in undergrad being higher than the number on your transcript. You’re below both medians, but you’ve managed to pull off a waitlist at your dream school. Congratulations! The good news is: you might have a better chance than you think of getting accepted (full disclosure I worked directly with Mike at Spivey Consulting)! The bad news: it’s going to be a looooong summer. I know because I was in those shoes, too! Until last week!
Mike told me the earliest I would probably get an admit would be the week before orientation. I was waitlisted in March, so that meant more than five months of waiting before I finally heard my yes one week to the day before orientation started (As usual, Mike was right. He’s always right).
When I was first waitlisted, my instinct was to constantly tell my school how much I wanted to go there. Pestering an already-inundated admissions team is a huge mistake. Mike had to remind me more than once that they knew I was interested, and I have the “be patient” texts to prove it. In total, I sent only four emails to admissions during the entire wait. That’s about 100 fewer than I felt like sending.
My biggest fear was that I would get rejected from the waitlist before I could send the next email telling my school how much I wanted to join the incoming class. Eventually, I realized that a school is probably only likely to drop candidates who haven’t expressed sincere interest. Because I had, there wouldn’t be a big value to them in kicking me off the waitlist, since they knew I would attend if they offered me admission. Also, I had included my contact info in every email. Your school, as was mine, is perfectly capable of reaching out to you if they have any questions about the depth of your interest in them. Have a signature block on your emails. Mike and I went over this on our very first call.
To keep myself busy, gather info, and as a backup in the event that I got a “Why Our School” question from admissions, I talked to all kinds of people from the school: my tour guide (whom I asked to put in a good word for me with admissions, which he was kind enough to do), lawyers working in my desired city who had graduated from the school, and the president of student groups I hoped to one day join. If it fit organically, I would refer to those conversations in my Letter of Continued Interest (LOCIs). If not, I didn’t force it.
I also visited campus twice. Once, I got to meet with the director of admissions, and once I happened to stop by when everyone except the administrator was out of the office. I think the facetime is always valuable because it concretely demonstrates your commitment to the school.
Mike helped me be maximally strategic in when I sent my emails expressing my continued interest. On average, we sent one every four or five weeks -- and we used real reasons to do so. But one time, a period of six weeks passed between two of my messages to the school. Although I experienced a minor panic attack every time I thought about how much time had lapsed since I had professed my love to the school, Mike pointed out that sending a message at four weeks would have put my email in a dead zone of acceptances—the end of July. I waited the two extra weeks, got an email from the dean the next day, and was accepted shortly thereafter.
Our plan worked, so I’m sharing it with you in hopes that you can have some confidence during this—at times, agonizing—waiting game.
-Visit #1 -Waitlisted!
-Submitted Formal LOCI ten days after the school’s seat deposit deadline -Emailed two student group presidents with friendly questions from an interested party about their organization -Emailed tour guide to ask him to put in a good word for me in admissions (engage with your tour guides, get their contact info, and write them an email after the tour to express your gratitude!)
-Visit #2 -No emails to admissions!
-Early in the month, I submitted another LOCI in which I talked about my recent visit to campus and conversations with the student group leaders -Later in the month, I emailed the Director of Admissions directly (I’d met him during my first visit) to express that I would be delighted to receive an admit at any time in the cycle
-No emails to admissions! -Made connections with lawyers in my desired city who had graduated from the school (I found them in firms’ directories)
-One last email expressing my interest in the school above all others -Accepted!
The admissions cycle is highly predictable to those who know it well, so put your faith in the experts. If you don’t make a nuisance of yourself, and you focus on creating relationships with those in your school’s community, and you present yourself as professional and likeable in every interaction with the school, you’ll give yourself the best chance to experience one of the most exhilarating moments of your life in early-to-mid-August. But, if you’re below both medians, it likely won’t be before then. So, when you’re sitting there in July with no idea where you’re going to spend the next three years—keep calm and trust the system!