For most, the whirlwind of the law school application process is over. The waiting is over and decisions are in your inboxes. You open those emails, answer those phone calls, and rip open the envelopes. Are you in? Are you out? Or are you waitlisted? If you applied to more than one law school, chances are you’ll have a myriad of answers to sort through. If you’re reading this, chances are you’re in a most beneficial position: you’ve been accepted at one school and waitlisted at your top choice.
What Do You Do?
It’s a great place to be in! You know you’ve got a soft landing spot for the school year, but you may have an even swankier option available. However, there is some doubt. Can you accept a seat at one school while holding out hope for something better? Can you game the system that way? Is it allowed? The answer is yes. Yes. And yes. It’s fairly simple, actually. Here are your next steps.
- Send your seat deposit to the school that accepted you. After all, that school is a sure thing! The waitlist school is not. Sending your deposit holds your seat for you, but it does not bind you to the school unless you applied via an Early Decision program. You need to have a place to land, so make sure a seat is waiting for you no matter what.
- Let the waitlist school know that you definitely want to stay on that waiting list. Here’s what you need to do.
- Have hope for acceptance into your top choice.
What Happens If I’m Accepted at the Waitlisted School?
If you receive an acceptance offer from your top choice, let the original school know you no longer want your seat. Then, send your deposit to the new school. Simple as that. A few things to note.
- You will lose your deposit at the first school.
- You must let the first school know that you will not be attending. This allows them to give your seat to someone else. It’s a nice way to pay it forward, too.
- If you do this multiple times, it’s okay. For example, School A accepts you, you get off the waitlist at School B and decide to go there, then get off the waitlist at School C and decide to go there instead. Just make sure you understand you’re losing your deposit every time you make a switch. Each new school you decide to accept a seat at, you have to issue a new deposit. Don’t forget the point above! Inform each school that you’re leaving so that they can open up a seat for another student.
Some will ask: Is this ethical? Can I really do this? Think of it this way. Most law schools hedge their bets like this every year. They accept more students than they have space to accommodate because they know many will end up not accepting their offer. You’re doing the same thing–hedging your bets. Except, you’re doing it with multiple schools. Schools know students do this. The only time it could backfire on you is if you’re admitted via a binding program. In that case, you can’t back out and decide to go elsewhere. You also cannot accept seats at multiple schools at once.
It’s a nice spot to be in! More than one school wants you. Enjoy your popularity, pick your school, and get ready for law school!