Here we are again. Wait List season for law school applicants. This is a good news, bad news scenario. Being “waitlisted” means that you still are in the running for admission. Being waitlisted also means that nothing is certain in your life and that the waiting game is full on and annoying. Yes, I know. It is unpleasant, but you have to try to look on the bright side and act prudently.
Being placed on a law school Wait List is both a hopeful and a frustrating experience, depending on the school and the applicant’s expectations, and there is a certain amount of protocol you need to know to handle the situation wisely and adeptly. As I have pointed out in a prior blog on the subject, “Storming the Bastille” and sending the school admissions office reams of additional paperwork and electronic files — evidencing your credentials and acceptance worthiness — may not be the best idea.
So, what is the best way to handle it? I typically default to this article that appeared on the Above the Law website several years ago and is still very relevant. It contains some valuable guidance on what kinds of things and how much to send to augment your file and when it becomes too much.
Shy away from the gimmicks and singing telegrams. You will be amazed to know the kinds of gimmicks that applicants have used in the past, and I have heard some outrageous ones first-hand from law school admissions deans. That is where the ugly comes in. These attempts at getting noticed are embarrassing, and you do not want to appear that desperate or foolish.
Additional recommendations is something that many of you will think about, and it is specifically addressed in the article. Here are some things you should consider before requesting an additional letter of recommendation:
- Assess your application “holistically” to identify weaknesses and reasons that you were waitlisted. Think about adding a letter of recommendation that can bolster your application on that particular issue;
- Try to figure out what your other recommenders have said about you and use that information to calculate the likelihood that another letter from that same person would be helpful; and
- If you opt in favor of an additional recommendation, make it very clear to the proposed writer what you need addressed on your behalf. If the writer is reluctant to address that topic, you need to know it and, hopefully, find someone else to help you out.
As you can see, being waitlisted is a game of strategy, and there is no place for impetuous decisions. Read the article, factor in your particular circumstances, and make an informed decision.
Good luck to all of you who find yourself in the waiting game. I hope to see you in a law school audience somewhere next Fall. Break a leg!