The following article is a guest post from Christina Taber-Kewane, Director, Law Admissions at Admit.me, a new social network for law school applicants.
Enter Christina . . .
There may be nothing more aggravating for a hopeful law applicant than a letter informing her that she has been put on the wait list for her dream school. At least a rejection letter closes the door, but a wait list letter seems to leave the door open indefinitely, or at least until August. But don’t despair! Many an applicant has successfully launched off of the wait list and into the classroom. And you can too! Here are our tried-and-true tips for shaking off the wait list shackles:
1) Read Your Wait List Letter Carefully
We know you really just want to throw it in the incinerator, but your wait list letter often gives clear instructions for what to do next, so after you punch a pillow a few times, read the letter again and put it in your wait list file (yes, you should create a wait list file just as you created application files for your applications).
Some schools strictly inform applicants not to contact them for any reason. If that is the case, then you must follow the instructions. Admissions committees are drowning in paper by this time in the admissions cycle, so if they say they don’t want anything else from you, then they mean it. That applies even if you have a new LSAT score, better grades second semester of senior year, or have won the Nobel Prize for Peace (don’t worry, if that happens, they’ll hear about it anyway). Don’t pester.
But more commonly, schools either give a vague “Update us with any relevant information” or they request a specific action, such as sending a one-time letter of continued interest (“LOCI”) or asking you to indicate your continued interest every month. When given the opportunity to write a LOCI, then do! Be clear, be persuasive, and, most of all, do it! And if this school is your first choice and you would DEFINITELY accept an offer, then say that. But don’t say that to more than one school. No one likes to be stood up for the prom, and admissions committees like it even less if you say you will come and then you don’t.
If a school offers you an even broader opening, then take it, but use sound judgment in determining what additional information to send. More on that below:
2) Do Everything You Can to Get Off the Wait List, But Don’t Be a Pest
For schools that allow you to contact them, take advantage of the opportunity, but be careful not to become a chore for the admissions committee. How do you know when you’ve gone too far? Think about it this way: an admissions officer uses the wait list to bring on applicants when the school has a spot to fill. Clearly, some applicants are more attractive than others, but the differences among applicants are often marginal at this point. What an officer wants to know is that, if he offers you a spot in the class, you will take it and show up.
So, your goal is to demonstrate great interest without becoming a problem for the office. Here is when and how to contact the office after you have sent the LOCI:
-Schedule a visit to the law school if you can (but don’t demand an interview) and request a tour. Stop by to say hi to the admissions office. Cheerfully indicate how interested you are in attending the school.
-As stated above, if you would accept an offer from the school, let them know in no uncertain terms that this is the case. And then when you get the offer, accept it right away.
-Update your file with positive information, including second semester grades, a significant job promotion, a higher LSAT score, or a glowing letter of recommendation.
-Review your application carefully and identify any weaknesses you can mitigate and then address them (see point above).
-If your problem is your LSAT score, and if you can put in serious study time before June, then take the LSAT again. But don’t do this without preparation, because a lower score will create a bigger hindrance than before.
-Don’t let your grades slip – no senioritis allowed for law school applicants!
-Keep expressing interest all the way through the end of the summer with at least monthly communications to the law school in the spring and weekly towards the end of the summer.
-Don’t try gimmicks- we told you not to employ them on your applications, and the same applies here. If you think sending a video Valentine to the admissions office is a fun way to get their attention, then think again.
-Finally, if you don’t plan to accept an offer, then take yourself off of the wait list and make it a happy day for some other lucky applicant.
3) Be Patient and Stay Positive!
Those wait lists start moving in earnest once the seat deposits are in and continue to make room even up to the first day of classes. We know an applicant who was driving across the country to attend school on the east coast. When he got a call letting him in off of the wait list, he just drove north right to his first choice school in New York City.
Christina Taber-Kewene is Director, Law Admissions at www.Admit.me, a new social network for law school applicants.