⭐️What to Do After You Get Waitlisted

What do I do right after I get waitlisted?

When a law school waitlists you, it often provides instructions. Read those.

Absent any instructions, you should send a short LOCI as soon as you get waitlisted. This can be as simple as “Thank you for your consideration. I’m still very interested in your school, and I’m grateful for a place on the waitlist.” Don’t use those exact words, though, or it will sound like you’ve copied them from the internet, which would be true.

I see you just wrote “LOCI.” What’s that?

A LOCI is a letter of continuing interest. See Letters of Continuing Interest: What and Why?

What should the LOCI say?

LOCIs can do three things:

  1. Reiterate your interest in a law school.
  2. Update your application (optional).
  3. Explain what you’d bring to a school (optional).

How do I reiterate my interest?

If you already wrote a “Why School X” essay, you can reference it in your LOCI. (“As I expressed in my optional essay, I am interested in Northeastern because of its intellectual rigor and focus on practical training.”) If you haven’t written a “Why School X,” do so now (unless the school says otherwise). These letters are more compelling if you can talk to students, faculty members, or alumni beforehand. Mention those conversations in the essay. It’s also a good idea to list specific classes that you want to take and clinics that you want to participate in. Demonstrate that you’ve made an effort to discover what makes the school special and explain why it’s a good fit for you in particular.

👉If a school is your first choice, say so. Tell them you’re committed to going there if you get off the waitlist. This is the single most powerful tool in your arsenal.

See also How to Research a “Why Law School X” essay and How to Write a “Why Law School X” Essay.

What updates should I provide?

If you’re a senior, you should update a school with your spring-semester grades. (You should also send your new transcripts to CAS.) Other legitimate updates include promotions or new responsibilities at work, new volunteering activities, and new honors. Don’t update a school with information about something you plan to do or a job you haven’t yet started.

How do I explain what I’d bring to a school?

Though I wouldn’t recommend writing a full-on second personal statement, it’s perfectly okay to discuss how you see yourself contributing to the student community. Be as specific as possible. For example, you could say that your knowledge of Chinese sports law would let you contribute to the school’s Journal of Sports and Entertainment Law.

When should I send my LOCIs?

Indicate your interest as soon as you get waitlisted, either via a short LOCI or by filling out a form.

Send another more substantial LOCI before or on the school’s first deposit deadline.

Why? Because a week or so after a school requires the first deposit from accepted students, it will have a lot of spots to fill. (That is, a lot of people will have failed to make a deposit. People often ask for extensions on the deposit deadline, so schools won’t know immediately how many offers they can make.)

In an ideal world, you’d send your LOCI just as admissions officers are about to reconsider the waitlist, prompting them to pull your file and admit you. In the real world, you can’t predict when an admissions officer will reconsider the waitlist, so I don’t advise you to wait longer than the first deposit deadline to send it.

By the same reasoning, you should send another LOCI before or on the school’s second deposit deadline.

This doesn’t preclude other LOCIs before or after.

So I can send more than one LOCI? How many? How often? What should the next ones say?

You can and should send additional LOCIs once a month or so up until the fall term begins. Be persistent!

If you’ve already written a substantial LOCI and you have no more updates, you can keep your new LOCIs to two or three sentences:

Dear Admissions Committee,

I am writing to express my continued interest in the University of Michigan. As I expressed in my previous communications, Michigan Law remains my top choice.

Thank you for your consideration.

(Again, though, use your own words. That’s just an example.)

Back up for a second—can I send a LOCI before I hear back from a school?

Yes, although I’d exercise some caution. If you applied early, I think you can send a LOCI in February, even if you haven’t heard back from a school. If you didn’t apply until, say, January, I wouldn’t send a LOCI until March, unless you’ve already been waitlisted.

Should I attach my LOCIs or plop them right into the body of the email? 

It doesn’t matter. I prefer to paste short LOCIs into the body of the email and attach longer LOCIs.

How long should the LOCIs be?

Anything longer than two single-spaced pages is probably too long, but as I said, repeat LOCIs can be very short.

How should I format them?

You can format your LOCI the way you formatted your personal statement. You can also format it like a business letter:

  • Put your name, address, and LSAC number in the upper left-hand corner, followed by an empty line, the date, another empty line, and the name and address of the law school.
  • Address the letter to the admissions dean and the admissions committee (“Dear Dean Soban and Admissions Committee:”).
  • Use 12-point, Times New Roman font.
  • Single-space your letter.
  • Don’t indent your paragraphs, but put an empty line between them.

What should the subject of my email be?

Something informative like “Letter of Continuing Interest” should do the trick.

Any other LOCI tips?

  • Proofread the heck out of all correspondence with admissions officers.
  • Get to the point. Let an admissions officer know the purpose of your email within the first paragraph, if not the first sentence. (“I am writing to express my continued interest…”).
  • Don’t take language from the school’s web page. That makes you seem disingenuous, as if you’re only telling them what you think they want to hear.
  • Don’t ask to be admitted outright. Persuade and inform; don’t beg.
  • Don’t ask when you’ll hear from them.
  • Don’t title your LOCI or try anything cutesy.

Should I visit?

Yes! Visiting sends a strong signal of your interest. Attend an information session or take a tour if possible. You can also ask the admissions office to let you audit a class or talk to a current student. One way or another, you want the admissions office to know that you came.

Discuss your visit in another LOCI. Mention the classes you audited, some of the people you met, and some of the conversations you had with them. Explain why these experiences made you more keen on attending.

Can I stop by the admissions office when I visit?

First, read the waitlist literature and make sure it doesn’t cover this question. Harvard, for example, explicitly notes that you can’t visit the admissions office. Most schools are more welcoming.

I’d suggest that you email the admissions office to let them know you’re coming. Don’t ask for an appointment—that’s too formal—but as long as they don’t specifically prohibit it, you can ask to see someone in the admissions office to express your enthusiasm in person.

Bring a question, or simply say something like, “I’m David, I flew in from Pittsburgh, and I just wanted to tell you in person that you’re my first choice. I know you’re very busy right now so I don’t want to waste any more of your term; I just wanted to introduce myself in person.” You can give them a résumé to make it easier for them to remember your name and note your visit.

Should I send an extra recommendation?

Maybe.

If your recommendation covers the same ground as your initial recommendations, it won’t help, but a recommendation targeted to a particular school—perhaps written by an alumnus, discussing your suitability for and your interest in that school—can be very valuable.

I know an alumnus who’s willing to make a phone call on my behalf. Good idea?

A thoughtful and highly specific recommendation is probably more useful than a phone call unless your alumnus friend actually knows someone in the admissions office.

But I know, like, a really important person who’s willing to make a call on my behalf.

Again, it probably won’t help (unless your friend knows someone in the admissions office), but it probably won’t hurt either. Just don’t go overboard and have more than one person call. Don’t be a creepy stalker. 😉

Should I send the admissions office the short film I made? I want them to see how talented I am.

Don’t be a clueless stalker. 🤠

Should I send the admissions office a basket of candied macadamia nuts and—

Please stop being a stalker. 🙃

What are my chances of getting off the waitlist?

It depends on the movement of the applicant pool, the school's strategy for crafting a class, and the particular strengths of your application. Some schools have tiered waitlists—with "priority waitlists" or "preferred waitlists" for stronger applicants—while others have only one tier. Some schools waitlist over a thousand applicants, while others have a much smaller waitlist. Furthermore, a given school might admit over thirty people off the waitlist one year and fewer than five people a year later.

School may go to the waitlist to meet various admissions goals. Do they need to raise the median LSAT or GPA? Are they looking for more geographic diversity? Is there a balance between men and women? Questions like this—which you can't predict—will affect your chances.

A school's incoming class will continue to evolve throughout the summer. Students who have made a first deposit may not make a second deposit, or they may make a second deposit and then choose not matriculate because of an emergency. Spots open up unexpectedly. The only thing you can predict with confidence is this: the applicants who do get admitted off the waitlist are those who persistently, professionally demonstrate their interest.

📌Further reading:

Chin up! Count on nothing and hope for everything. Good luck!

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