The Waiting Is The Hardest Part

Q: All my applications are in.  I sent in my financial aid applications and my FAFSA too.  Is there anything I can do while I’m waiting to hear?  Should I follow up with a phone call to the admissions offices?  What does it mean that some of my friends have heard from law schools and I still haven’t?

A: This may be the toughest period of time in a very difficult process.  The bottom line is that things are largely out of your control right now.  You may hear right away or you may be left hanging until late March or early April.  And then it can get even worse: you could be placed on hold or waitlisted at one or more schools, meaning you won’t find out until as late as some time in the summer. 

Comparing your experience with your friends’ experiences is of limited value.  A lot of variables go into the timing of answers from admission committees, and it’s nearly impossible to read the tea leaves of timing in any accurate manner.

So what can you do, besides sit tight?

First, if you are still in school, don’t let your grades slip this last semester.  Schools often make offers of admission that are contingent on final semester grades.  Now is not the time to slack off.

Second, don’t make nagging calls to the admissions offices.  If you have already confirmed that your applications are complete, there is nothing more to do.  The one exception is if you receive an offer from School A and you need to make a decision, but you haven’t heard yet from School B. Then, you should feel free to call to let School B know the situation.  If you are placed on “hold” or waitlisted, check out the admissions decisions page on the official Pre-Law website for more tips.

Third, face down your worst case scenario.  What will you do if you only get into your last choice safety school, or if you don’t gain admission anywhere this year?  Think through your options a bit.  This exercise helps most people realize that it’s not the end of the world if the outcome is not what you hoped it would be.  Accordingly, it helps allay some of the stress.  (If you have a future as a litigator ahead of you, this is also a useful and necessary habit to get into—your clients will be counting on you to advise them objectively about all of their options if the judge/jury goes the wrong way.) 

Finally, know that these few months don’t last forever, even though it may feel that way at times.  You will know soon enough what next fall holds for you.  And don’t forget to let your Pre-Law Advisor know the outcome—you’re not all alone in the admissions process, and I’m looking forward to hearing your plans as well.