Were you waitlisted at one of your top choice law schools? Was it one of your reach schools? If so, congratulations! This is wonderful news. Most borderline candidates view being waitlisted as neutral or even bad news—which is absolutely the wrong way to think about it! If you’re patient and continue to follow up with the school, you could reap enormous rewards just a few months later. I learned this from my experience applying to law schools years ago as a low GPA high LSAT splitter. In this post, I’m going to describe three reasons why getting waitlisted is great news:
1. Reducing Your Competition
The competition for a spot at a top school is incredibly fierce. Consider who you’re up against: thousands of borderline applicants who are also trying to get into their reach school. Most of these applicants equate being waitlisted with being rejected. As a result they tend to stop showing interest to the school by not following up with letters of continued interest or by withdrawing from consideration altogether. That means that the longer you remain on the waitlist, the less competition you have for a spot in the entering class. By continuing to show enthusiasm, you will set yourself apart from your competition.
2. Opportunity to Provide More Information
It’s generally not a good idea to send admissions offices additional information about yourself after you’ve already sent in your application. However, this general rule doesn’t apply after you’ve been put on the waitlist. It’s common—even expected—that a waitlisted candidate will send in letters of continued interest and other materials to bolster their candidacy. Obviously you don’t want to go overboard and bombard the school with calls, e-mails, and letters. But there are far more possibilities at this stage—in fact, after I was waitlisted at one T14, I asked for and was granted an in-person meeting with the head admissions director even though they had a policy of not doing interviews. Being on the waitlist definitely gives you a big opportunity to show the school you’re more than just your GPA and LSAT.
3. Huge Rewards if you’re Patient
When I finally got to law school, I learned that some of my classmates with worse numbers than me not only ended up getting admitted—they were offered substantial scholarships to attend! The key difference was that they were admitted very late in the cycle. I was admitted in June, which I originally thought was fairly late. But I later learned that many of my law school friends were admitted in July and August. I even met a guy who was admitted right before orientation began! This kind of stuff happens regularly because some schools have trouble filling their seats at the end of the summer, when prospective students end up declining to attend. If you’re comfortable with changing your plans at the last minute, you can get some amazing results.
Make Sure You Get Quality Advice
If you’re a borderline candidate, it’s a huge milestone to make it on to the waitlist. That’s why it’s important to make sure you construct a strong application from the get-go, so that you won’t be rejected outright and lose the opportunities described in this post. This is where an admissions consultant brings tremendous value. Having a strong advisor will help you make the right decisions (and avoid bad ones) throughout the application process—especially in times of uncertainty, like when you get deferred, held, or waitlisted. If you’re patient and play your cards right, you can also get extremely lucky and get admitted into your top choice law school
Alex is a practicing attorney who was admitted off the waitlist and into his top choice school. You can read more about how he gained admission into some of the best law schools in the country despite having a sub-3.0 college GPA at http://www.lexaholik.com.