When I first received the email and the first word was not “Congratulations”, my heart dropped. My spirits were lifted slightly when I read that I was placed on a waitlist. Honestly, I was honored to be on the waitlist considering my GPA and LSAT were both below the schools median. I knew that being on the waitlist was not an absolute “no” from the admissions office, but the uncertainty was unsettling. After a few minutes of feeling discouraged, I decided getting into my dream school would be my next big task. I wouldn’t be a passive applicant on the waitlist whose name and application were merely glanced over as admissions officers made decisions about who would be a part the entering class. From there, I had to ask myself some important questions in order to determine how I would handle being waitlisted at my dream school:
Will you attend the school if they do not offer you a scholarship?
How much is the tuition compared to law schools that you have already been accepted to?
How much do school rankings play in your law school decision?
For example, some corporate law firms have extremely competitive applicant pools and attending a highly ranked school, along with several other factors, of course, can give you a leg up on the competition. My field of interest is public interest law. I know most law graduates aren’t busting down the doors to the public defender’s office. However, public interest law can be a competitive job market as well. For this reason, my dream school was in the top 20.
If you are admitted a week before classes begin, will you change your plans to attend?
I only applied to law schools in California. So realistically speaking, if I were admitted into my dream school the week before classes commenced, I would be able to change my law school plans. However, someone who commits to attending a law school out-of-state may not be able to change their law school plans as easily.
Have you visited the campus and can you envision yourself there every day?
If you have visited the campus, what did you think of the faculty?
Have you met any current students at your dream school? What were their thoughts?
I thought through these questions for a few weeks. My plan to be admitted from the waitlist was to remain in communication with the admissions office. However, I was careful not to be a bothersome applicant. After a month of being on the waitlist, I wrote a letter of continued interest to the admissions office. I also remained active in my field of interest so when I submitted my updated resume, it would improve my chances of being accepted.
I also choose a school that I had already been accepted to and was willing and excited to attend. I paid all of the seat deposits for this school. This process was very expensive but necessary. Even if I was extremely likely to be accepted into my dream school from the waitlist, I wanted to play it safe. The last thing I wanted was to decline to attend all of the schools that accepted me without a definite acceptance from my dream school. It’s only smart.
Lastly, I would recommend setting money aside to pay the seat deposit for your dream school. If they choose to accept you, they will expect a seat deposit shortly after your notification. (I was given less than a week to pay my seat deposit and had to ask my parents for help.) Paying multiple seat deposits can be difficult if you do not work a full-time or high-salary job, so prepare for this ahead of time.