In many sports, the “silly season” is the name given to the offseason, when there are no games but there is a lot of deal-making going on. In law school admissions, I think of the silly season as the period we are in now: from January until roughly May. This is when many law school decisions will be handed down, and negotiations over financial aid take place. But while this is a benign nickname for this period, it is also one of the most stressful periods for applicants.
Fear and Uncertainty Over Your Future is Reasonable
During this period, many students have yet to receive a positive law school decision, and may in fact have received a few negatives ones. I want to speak directly to those students. The fear you feel over this uncertainty is completely legitimate. It’s also much more common than you think: you are not alone! I know it feels like you are the only person who hasn’t been accepted anywhere, but I guarantee you that’s not the case. Or, maybe you feel like the one school you really want is accepting everyone else with similar numbers to yours, and you start to read negatively into that. It’s natural to do so, but trust me when I say that it’s impossible to know what each law school is thinking when there are so many applicants.
The Environment Right Now Can Be Unhealthy
This age of instant connectivity has so many positives for law school applicants. There is easily available LSAT prep, widespread info about how to apply and what do to for every piece of your app, and reams of information that relate to law school decisions, including denials, waitlists, and admits. It’s a gold mine for most applicants, allowing them to get a glimpse of the kinds of decisions law schools are making, and at least numerically understand some piece of the process. But there’s a downside as well.
Every day there are posts from other applicants getting in, and many have similar or sometimes worse numbers. When a school admits a new group of students, the information about the wave rolls out across the internet. There’s an ocean of information available, and it can feel terrible not to be one of the ones who has received good news. It begins to feel personal, as if it’s something specifically about you that is causing all this to happen. It becomes suffocating and depressing.
Success Tends to Talk
One of the causes is that those with good news tend to speak up. They are happy and excited (rightfully so!), and they want to let the world know they got into their dream school. Post after post of success stories pile up, and all the while you feel like the outcast. Just know that there are still many, many more who are silent, waiting just like you are. This is the silent majority, and I wish they spoke up more. But, you need know that they are out there and there are more of them than people getting in right now.
It can also feel as if the whole class has been admitted and you’ve been left behind. This is definitely not true! One function of all this data is that it looks like so many acceptances have gone out that the window of opportunity is just about closed. But keep in mind that the 4.3/180 student who got into the entire Top 10 can only take one of those seats, and that means nine of those acceptances won’t be taken, and they will go back in the pool. At the moment, there are still many, many available seats at each school!
Disengage If It’s Too Much
The many tools we have to check information, including Reddit’s LawSchoolAdmissions forum and various app tracker sites such as LSN, are amazingly useful. As a professional I check them frequently and find them invaluable in seeing what’s going on at the surface level. So this is not a knock on them. But I’m not an applicant, and it’s not personal to me and it doesn’t affect my daily emotional makeup.
For some applicants I know, they want every piece of information they can get their hands on. They refresh every status checker constantly, look at every forum for clues, and chat on LSData a hundred times a day. It’s overwhelming, and it leads to a depressive cycle where you feel worse and worse about yourself. While repeatedly checking feels like it’s giving you more control, it’s actually not. Nothing changes with your decisions simply by you knowing what is happening with others. You can’t control what happens and checking repeatedly only makes you feel worse.
If this is you, my advice is delete those apps for a while and walk away. Nothing you do at this point will change what the school does, and so only school communications to you should matter. Check your email, and respond as needed if a school asks for info, but otherwise, don’t worry about who got into Michigan on Reddit. It’s a fast track to feeling worse about yourself.
Goodbye Doesn’t Mean Forever
Do you have to delete them forever? No! Once you get some news that makes you feel better and eases your fear and pressure, there’s nothing wrong with going back online and sharing it at your favorite site. At that point, you are in the happy group, and you’ll see a lot of support come your way from others.
But until then, make your mental health your top priority. And if you see yourself in what I’ve written above, remember that self-preservation is the most important thing.
In the next part of this series, we share the story of one student struggling with issues similar to those above. But, just remember: you are not alone! Stay well!