Students this time of year are hearing about being accepted, rejected, and waitlist – and some students are also receiving notification of being put on an administrative “hold.” Because this is not as common or transparent as other admissions decisions, students who are on hold at their dream schools may be uncertain about what this means and what to do next. Here are a few tips from us to help guide you through this process:
1) Examine your file. There are several reasons that cause admissions committees to put applicants on hold. The first is that although one is a strong candidate, the admissions committee is simply not ready to make a decision until they have reviewed more applications. The adcom may also be concerned about your numerical scores (i.e. LSAT and GPA) or another aspect of your candidacy. If you are not sure why you have been put on hold, it is in your best interest to reflect upon your application and see if you can pinpoint the reason for the adcom’s concern.
2) Prove yourself. Once you have pinpointed the reason why the adcom has put you on hold, it’s helpful to address this concern by sending in materials that supplement your application if the admissions office accepts them. For example, if you had weak grades your junior year, perhaps you have just finished your senior year on a strong note and can send in your updated transcript as a sign of the strength of your candidacy. Even if you don’t have a major “weak point” in your candidacy, you can still show the adcom how your candidacy has improved since the time of you application, i.e. a promotion at your job. This way the school not only knows that you are still interested in being considered for admission, but is also aware of the most recent strengths of your candidacy. Before sending any updates, be sure to verify that a given admissions office accepts these additional materials, since not all do. Your “hold” notification generally contains some information about maintaining communication with the admissions office, and you should abide by whatever level of contact the admissions office requests.
3) Remain positive. The good news is that being put on hold means that you were originally selected from the applicant pool as a promising candidate for admission. Therefore while you may be upset about not being automatically accepted, you should definitely view this as a “glass half full” outcome. That being said, the decision you may receive can be admit, deny, or waitlist, so you should have a backup plan in place: the other schools to which you have applied, job options, or a strong strategy for being a reapplicant next year.
Best of luck to those who are on “hold!” Stay strong – we know it’s a grueling process.