First off, let's talk about what it actually means to be waitlisted. Some folks like to paint a grim and dreary picture for waitlisted applicants. In the name of "waking you up" and "helping you see reality" they tell you to "forget about it and move on." But shut those party poopers them out, especially if you've been waitlisted at your top choice school.
By waitlisting you, here's what law schools might be saying:
- I want you: but your numbers are less than ideal. Most folks who are waitlisted aren't there because their personal statement sucked. If you've been waitlisted, then as far as soft factors are concerned (i.e., essay, resume, etc.) you're probably golden. The problem is your LSAT or GPA. So DON'T go WRITE more ESSAYS for the school to read (with the exception of the short Letter of Continued Interest - LOCI).
- I'm just being polite: some law schools waitlist an applicant just to be polite. They think you're a great applicant, but they just can't admit you. So instead of giving you an automatic *ding*, they waitlist you. Personally, I think this is more cruel than an outright rejection because they are giving you false hope.
- I'm not sure if you really want me: law schools, like many of us, are insecure. They don't want to be rejected by you (because it affects their US News rankings). If a law school thinks that every other law school wants you, it may waitlist you - just to see how much you want it back.
- You make me look good, but you suck at writing: your numbers are GREAT. But somehow your writing just lacked luster. If you're in this category, and you've been waitlisted, it REALLY REALLY sucks because had you worked harder on refining your essays, you'd be accepted. But on the other hand, you ought to be thankful, since most folks who fall under this category are usually automatic *dings*.
- You look good and you write well, but your people tell me you suck: this is the worst of all categories. You may have done everything correct. But still, you get waitlisted because one of your recommenders tanked you with a few negative jib-jabs.
Getting off the waitlist and onto the go-list
Most students just sit on their butts and wait. You'll never get off the waitlist that way. If you are seriously interested in attending a school that you've been waitlisted at, start doing the following:
- Read the Instructions Carefully! First and foremost, if a school says, "do not send us anything," they mean it. So don't send anything. On the other hand, if a school asks you of something, do it.
- Letter of Continued Interest (LOCI) This isn't suppose to be another essay. Your chance to write essays has long gone by. Rather this is meant to be a simple, clear, and direct letter that tells the school how enthusiastic and eager you are to potentially attend the law school. Don't waste the letter regurgitating trite facts about them or you (e.g., school rankings, your GPA, etc.). Instead do some research and write about why you are both meant to be together.
- Keep in touch. This doesn't mean badger them with emails/calls everyday or every week. I tell my students that once a month is sufficient. But don't just write for the sake of writing. Update them with pertinent/substantial happenings in your life, such as higher LSAT score, new job, promotion, etc.
- Visit the school. If you live nearby (or happen to swing through the geographic region), visit the school and help them put a face to the application. Again, don't become a pest. Always be polite, and approach the admissions in an enthusiastic and sincere manner. Tell them you're still immensely interested in the school. Ask them for a tour.