What should an applicant do when placed on the waitlist at his or her dream school? While most applicants regard the waitlist in a negative light, the best approach is to view the glass as being half-full. In all cases, getting waitlisted is much better than getting denied.
Here are a few tips to help you navigate this often difficult and mysterious process:
1) Know your file. Before you can develop a waitlist strategy you need to understand where you may have fallen short in the application process. Read over your file with a critical eye and try to identify any weaknesses. Talk to anyone you know who might be able to give you feedback (law students at the target school, former admissions officers, admissions consultants, etc).
2) Familiarize yourself with the school’s waitlist rules. Do you need to ‘opt-in’ in order to be on the list? Are you allowed to submit supplemental materials to bolster your case or inform the committee of changes to your candidacy? Does the school offer a chance for feedback via a phone session or interview with a ‘waitlist manager’?
3) Consider a school visit. It may make sense to visit the school, particularly if you have not been before. So many different things can happen on a visit:
a) You never know when you’ll have that chance meeting with an admissions officer who is willing to give you a little feedback (and who through the process of meeting you face to face might get a better sense of your candidacy)
b) A school may take note of your visit (if you sign in with the admissions office) and view it as a potential sign of your interest
c) You may interact with students or professors who can better inform you of opportunities at the school and provide you with helpful ‘content’ for any waitlist materials you go on to submit
d) By visiting, you may find out that school X is really not for you, enabling you to move on and remove yourself from the waitlist
Just as there are a number of waitlist to-do items, there are also countless things to avoid doing – check back on this blog in the coming weeks for a post regarding this topic!