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Law School Admissions: The Waitlist vs. the Hold


Article by Matt Shinners, Blueprint application consultant and instructor extraordinaire.

Law School Admissions: The Waitlist vs. the Hold

So your applications have all been sent out. Now it’s time to wait.

And wait.

And wait.

Since you’re a potential law student, and as a group they’re not known for letting things go, you’re probably obsessing over every website and friend that might hold any information about when a decision is coming your way. Because of this, a few questions might have come up – here are some answers.

1. What’s the difference between a ‘Hold’ and being waitlisted?

The difference between a hold and a waitlist can be huge.  As with all admission decisions, be sure to check with the school to make sure precisely where you stand, but for the most part you should be hoping for a hold.  Remember that blind date you went on? Not the one from Craigslist with different parts than you expected – the one with that hot blonde*? A waitlisting is when you called her for a date on Friday and she said she already had plans, but you should totally call her next Wednesday to see if she’s free. A hold is when she says that she has to see if she can change her schedule, then texts you a few minutes later to ask where you’d like to meet.

When you’re waitlisted, a decision has typically already been made, and the school likes someone else better than you. Like that blonde, they’re waiting to hear back from their preferred applicants before extending you an offer.  Your best bet is to send additional, high-quality materials if requested (don’t if you aren’t unless you call and they specifically say okay) and hope that a lot of students say no to the law school, thus freeing up positions for you.  You also might want to call that bookish brunette who’s a little wild in the sack, otherwise known as a lower-ranked law school.

In case of the hold, it’s likely that you’ve been given a chance to wow. A decision hasn’t been made either way, and the law school is setting aside your application to continue deliberating on it.  In the case of a hold, it’s likely that the school will ask for more materials and you should take this chance to do everything you can to sway the decision. Chocolates and a plan for a romantic evening will help you out, both in the law school admissions process and the dating world. Get to it.

2. What should I be submitting to schools if I’m held/waitlisted?

First, you should update your RSS feed to watch MSS. Then, you should head over here and read what Jodi has to say.

3. Why did someone on the TLS forums with my numbers hear back already while I’m still waiting?

And this is how you drive yourself crazy. Remember the flaw related to false analogies? That’s what you’re doing here. Sure, the numbers are a huge driver in law school admissions, but they’re not the only factor. That other kid could be a URM, legacy, or the descendant of a deposed Russian Czar.

He could also be lying. Or your brother could be playing a cruel joke on you. Take a deep breath and relax; you’ll hear from the school when you hear from them. If that other student really is your admissions doppelgänger (and HIMYM teaches us that we all have one), you’ll be hearing soon enough.

4. Is there anything else I should be doing while waiting to hear back?

In order of importance: hang out with your friends, drink a lot of beer, enjoy your final year of undergrad (unless you’re out of school, in which case, do the above, but with more money). Read for fun, as you’ll spend your free time at law school avoiding the written word like the plague. Hit the gym  and go tanning (seriously, the cast of Jersey Shore is a Blueprint class away from the Ivy League) so that you can land yourself an attractive mate early (the goods ones go quick, trust me). And break up with your significant other – it (probably) won’t last.**

So you can stop refreshing TLS obsessively now (though we both know you won’t). Head over to our discussion board if you’ve got any other questions, and an admissions consultant will be with you shortly.

Need more help with applying to law school? Talk to one of our law school admissions consultants!