Still waiting to hear back from your dream school? You are not alone. This year, “rolling admissions” can just as well be called “crawling” admissions. We can only speculate as to the reasons why schools are taking longer than usual, but one plausible explanation has to do with the relatively unpredictable size (and qualifications) of the applicant pool. We all know that applications have been dropping since 2010, but there is a strong indication that they bottomed out last year, and are starting to recover from a five-year slide. The rate of decrease slowed in 2015, while the total number of LSAT’s administered in 2015-2016 increased for the first time since the 2009-2010 admissions cycle, by about 4%.
Will that translate into a more competitive applicant pool? Possibly, which is why admissions officers are more careful than ever in deciding who to admit. Indeed, the only students who enjoyed a relatively quick turnaround this year have been those whose numbers were either outstanding or well below the school’s medians. The rest of you are probably still waiting on at least a few schools to make up their minds, especially if you applied closer to the application deadline. Is there anything you can do to boost your chances of a late acceptance?
Yes, there is: tell your friends who’ve already been accepted to make up their damn minds! If you haven’t heard back from Fordham yet, it’s partly because your friend Britney has been sitting on her Fordham acceptance since January. Britney, it turns out, is anxiously waiting for that big Columbia acceptance letter to make its way into her mailbox. You know why she hasn’t heard back from Columbia? You guessed it. Her BFF Cindy doesn’t want to bite the bullet until she hears back from Harvard. Harvard, of course, can take as long as they want to admit Cindy. What’s the worst that can happen? Lose her to Yale? Yale is tiny. And it’s in New Haven.
All joking aside, if you haven’t heard back from your dream school, look no further than the mirror—you’re sitting on a bunch of acceptances just like everyone else, trying to figure out who is going to give you the most money, or hoping for something better to come along. As with many other things in life, your "safety" is someone else's "reach."
Of course, I fully understand that choosing where to go can be even more difficult than deciding where to apply. With some exceptions, it’s an exceptionally difficult—and consequential—decision, one that can play a big role in determining the trajectory of your legal career. If you’re debating whether to take the money at a lower-ranked school or attend a more prestigious school at sticker price, here’s a blog that can help you make up your mind.
Here’s the good news: all acceptance offers have an expiration date, and that date is fast approaching (it’s either April 15 or May 1, for most schools). After these deadlines pass, we expect schools to start making decisions on any pending applications. If you end up on their waitlist, don’t despair. There are plenty of things you can do to boost your chances of admission.
Photo courtesy of Ged Carroll.