Law Students

What Should Applicants Do When They End Up On a Waitlist?
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Summary: Ending up on a law school’s waitlist is not the end, there are a number of things applicants can do to help their situation.

No aspiring law students wants to find themselves in a situation where they end up on the waitlist at multiple law schools. However, this can very likely happen when applying to the top 20 law schools because of the competition and sheer number of applications that schools receive. Only students that stand out with top scores, grades and experience will easily secure an offer from their choice of law schools. The majority of law school applicants will find themselves with comparable qualifications, making it difficult to secure an offer immediately.


Law schools also know they must keep a deep waitlist because competition is so fierce. The top students will likely be selected by all the law schools they apply to, giving them the ability to select which one they want to enroll with and leaving the others with an empty spot. This situation happens a lot, leaving some law schools with a large number of spots to fill, making a deep waitlist important. A recent increase in applications is making for even longer waitlists due to a larger applicant pool and more applicants with top credentials.

For applicants that find themselves without an offer, sitting on a waitlist, or perhaps with an offer from a law school that is not their top choice, U.S. News put together some tips may help them stand out.

  1. Letter of continued interest

The moment you learn you are on the waitlist of a law school you really want to attend or feel you have a good chance of attending, send them a letter of continued interest. This letter lets the law school know you are still very interested in them. In the letter, offer to send them an additional information they may need to help the admissions committee make their decision. If you there are significant changes since the you submitted your application, let the school know about them, such as honors, improved grades, internships, etc. Feel free to write a new letter every month or two, but not more frequently or your letters will be seen as an annoyance.

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  1. Visit the school

A big positive for you would be to schedule a visit to the law school. Coordinate your visit with the admissions office so they know you willing to spend time and money to visit their school. Ask to speak with a current student and attend a class or student organization meeting to gather first-hand experience about what the school is like.

  1. Put in the deposit to a safety school

Don’t make the mistake of assuming you will get through the waitlist to receive an offer from any law school. If you receive an offer at a lower school, submit the deposit to secure your spot as a backup. The worst mistake would be to let the deposit deadline pass on a school you did receive an offer to and not receive any other offers, leaving you with no chance of attending law school that next year. In the big picture, forfeiting a couple hundred dollars to be able to attend a dream school is worth it.

  1. Relax

The process will take time and chances are you will be on at least one waitlist. Taking the appropriate steps and letting the process run can be stressful but it has to happen. Law schools may still be sending out offers as late as July and August. Make sure you have a law school to fall back on so you don’t have to completely fret about your future.

Do you think every applicant should apply to a lower-ranked law school as a safety or would it be better to wait a year and try applying to your top choices again? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below.

To learn more about how to prepare for law school, read these articles:




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