At first it seems odd.
You get a letter from Princeton Law School that says something along the lines of “PLS receives approximately 7,000 applications a year, and yours was very strong. While we can only offer a limited number of acceptances, we have placed you on the wait list and anticipate that we will admit a number of *our qualified wait list applicants this cycle. *As we do not rank those on the wait list, please make sure to let us know if you wish to remain active on it”
Wait, what? How is it remotely possible that they can do anything but rank the WL? Are they going to just read all 1,500 WL files all over again?
Well, not exactly, and herein lies where knowing the answer to this method provides you with a possible boost. Law school certainly do not want to read their entire WL application hoard. And they won’t, I promise that. They want to be as efficient and precise with the files they read as possible, and this is entirely why they do not rank. At the moment in time when you are WL’d, a school does not know its future needs. So ranking would be counterproductive to this precision.
Rather, they are going to be running daily reports along a number of dimensions based on outstanding offers (“outstanding” is how they call them which is not to imply “spectacular” but rather “uncommitted”), current deposits, and commitment overlap reports (who has double deposited where). The dimensions they are going to look at, in some sort of rough hierarchical order, are likely to be:
- LSAT versus target LSAT median (how close/safe/far are we?)
- LSAC computed uGPA v. target uGPA median
- Current % of certain URM in projected incoming class
- Male/Female ratio in projected incoming class
- Demographic representation in projected incoming class
- Who do we really like and want to admit
So, there is a lot in that list that you can’t change. But there’s a lot in your application that is interesting to the admissions office, or they would have denied your application. Not being ranked is an advantage for you; it forces the admissions office to take note of you if you do things the right way. The only way to be noticed is to keep in touch with the admissions office and remind them of your interest. Not to the level where campus police may be called, of course, but often enough that your application will be fresh in the minds of the decision-makers. In other words, you want them to pull your file and see something in it that they are currently lacking, or something that stands out that they would like to have in the mix. This likely could not happen if you were ranked. It can happen (and does frequently) given how law school look at the WL – in a piecemeal fashion.
Also keep in mind that no admissions office wants to admit someone from the WL who will ultimately turn down the offer of admission. Be genuine with your interest, and it will show. This, again, will up your place on the WL in a way that a static “rank” from the initial admissions decision to WL could never do.
So breathe easy. Be ranked is stressful (just ask any dean of a law school), and for the WL, there is more you can work with because you are not.
-Mike & Karen