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Must be the Season of the Waitlist

Must be the season of the waitlist…

It’s still winter, and that means plenty of people have already been admitted to law school. (Jerks). For those of us not touched by angels, this also means that declinations abound. (Please pass the tub of chicken). Then there’s that special third group of people in their own little circle of hell. The waitlisters.

This post, all of you waitlisted and in law school limbo, is for you.

What to do when you’re waitlisted for law school:

1. Read the instructions you’re given.
Some schools explicitly invite waitlisted applicants to send additional materials. If this is the case, you’ll want to submit a letter of continued interest, along with any updates you have.

Some schools may expressly ask you NOT to send additional information. If this is the case, you should respect their wishes and not send anything. However, if you’re really interested in the school, you can always call and ask if they’re open to having you submit anything else. If the answer is yes, you can then send a letter of continued interest.

Some waitlist letters fall into a grey area where it’s not particularly clear whether or not additional materials are welcome. In such an instance, submitting a letter is probably a smart thing to do. However, calling the school to make sure they’ll look favorably upon it is still a good idea.

2. What should be in a letter of continued interest?
Your letter should affirm your interest in the specific law school without reiterating what you’ve already said in the application. If your personal statement included a paragraph explaining why NYU is the perfect law school for you, don’t just reiterate your reasons again. However, if you submitted a general essay, now is the time to explain how your interest in international law would be well served by NYU’s Institute for International Law and academic focus program in that area.

You should also send additional, good material. For instance, if you’ve received another quarter or semester of grades, mention that you’ve sent your new grades to LSDAS and mention the GPA you received for that quarter/semester. If you’ve received a promotion at work, mention that in your letter and perhaps include an additional letter of recommendation from the supervisor, provided he or she didn’t already write one for you. Additional volunteer work or extra curricular activities are good items to discuss as well.

3. Make sure to update your application.

It’s your responsibility to update schools with any new information (good or bad) since you initially submitted your application. New grades, academic suspension, a criminal charge, a new promotion or demotion, etc. must all be reported to the law school. Keep in mind that a new LSAT score will automatically be sent to the school via LSAC.

The important thing to remember about waitlists is that they’re not a “no”. As long as you’re on the waitlist, there’s hope. And reading the directions carefully, together with a well-crafted letter of continued interest, can go a long way toward distinguishing yourself on that list.