A Crazy Year for Wait Lists, Deferrals & Holds

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As I noted in a previous post, there have been some strange admission trends this year. Schools are waitlisting like crazy, and using “deferrals” and “holds” more than I’ve seen in the past 5 years. Here are some examples:

As I’ve said before, American is one of these schools (consistently waitlisting high 150s LSAT applicants this year).

University of Miami is among those issuing more “hold” decisions (or non-decisions) than usual.

Fordham’s waitlist is usually a long one, and this year is no exception. The good news is that people have gotten into this school off the waitlist in the past. However, by the time they get around to it, most applicants are so happy with their scholarships from Cardozo or Brooklyn that they don’t want to make the jump.

What does this mean for applicants? Don’t be scared to send in a deposit to more than one school while you wait for some of the more lazy schools that haven’t made an official decision on your file.

24 thoughts on “A Crazy Year for Wait Lists, Deferrals & Holds

  1. Allen on said:

    What do you think is causing this abnormal admissions cycle? Drop in applications? Drop in qualified applicants?

    Are there any other schools where you’ve noticed this issue?

  2. Ann K. Levine, Esq. on said:

    I can only speculate:
    1. The chatter this admission cycle re: rankings vs. tuition vs. value of the education and ability to pay off debt is causing schools to be more aware of rankings (even more than usual) and trying to control their yields (admitting only those students whom they believe likely to matriculate).
    2. The weirdness of the economy is causing applicants to be more in tune with tuition prices, changing the choices applicants are likely to make about where to attend, and schools may believe more scholarship offers will be accepted than usual…..

  3. Ann K. Levine, Esq. on said:

    Oh – and Chapman has been waitlisting almost all low-mid 150s LSAT candidates. (Next year they’ll be competing with Irvine and they might be preparing for that)

  4. Zachary on said:

    My weird story is about Alabama. I took the Feb LSAT and applied VERY late. Alabama didn’t even wait for my report to arrive; they printed it off themselves and took ONE day to admit me with a full scholarship. And my numbers weren’t all that great in comparison to their 25th-75th numbers. But before they took my application before the scholarship committee, they did ask me if I had made a commitment to another school and if I was still interested in them.

  5. Anonymous on said:

    Do you think that ‘letters of continued interest’ are a good idea or are they annoying to admissions (one more thing to read)? I don’t have new grades or any significant updates (I’m non-trad), but is it valuable to them know that they are your top choice and you’ll accept the offer immediately should they choose to accept you?

  6. Ann K. Levine, Esq. on said:

    It depends on the letter of continued interest. If it’s a waste of a letter, it’ll annoy the admission officer who reads it. If it is a valuable letter, it could make all the difference for you. Timing is important too. If you send too many, you’ll annoy the admission officer. It’s about using good judgment.

  7. Ann, I really like your advice generally. The waitlist thing is true, as I have already been waitlisted by 3 schools, and I probably will be at any others. I’m not still in college, so I won’t have new grades, and I don’t have a job, so I won’t have anything with that. So I have been thinking about taking the June LSAT. I retook in February and had to cancel because I was sick and thought I probably did worse than my original score. Would a, let’s say, 3 or 4 point rise in the LSAT in June be good for getting people off a waitlist?

    Also, do you actually recommend trying to leverage scholarships? I got a full one from Toledo and want to get more money out of Pace (because they want $750 to hold the scholarship by April 4, which is completely ridiculous).

  8. Ann K. Levine, Esq. on said:

    Hi Jack, Thanks for writing.
    A 3-4 point increase might make a difference at some schools. I’ve seen University of Chicago grab people off the waitlist in the past because they finally hit a 170 on the June LSAT (while waitlisted). But there might be better, more productive and less painful ways to increase your chances on a waitlist.

    I do offer a very reasonably priced package for waitlisted applicants to help you through this situation if you’d like more individualized advice. You can check that out on my web site if you’re interested (lawschoolexpert.com)

  9. zachary–
    if you don’t mind revealing…what were your numbers? I ask because I very recently applied to Alabama and am curious as to my chances. I am in-state and hoping to save money by attending (great value for the money, i’d say!). Thanks.

  10. Anonymous on said:

    I was shocked to get waitlisted @ American with a 169 … it was a safety of mine, and I guess there can always be a host of reasons but …

  11. Ann K. Levine, Esq. on said:

    It’s not just you! American tops my list for “Most Puzzling Admission Decisions for Fall 2008.” I have no idea what’s going on over there…. Don’t take it personally.

  12. Anonymous on said:

    I am SO happy to hear that you too are puzzled by American. They seem to have waitlisted almost as many people as they’ve admitted (based on LSN). A lot things about how they handled applicants this cycle really left me cold. The waitlist is the least of them.

  13. OK here’s a question for the board —

    I just got 2–what I can only describe as “holds”, I guess…

    What can a proactive applicant do to strengthen their application before a final decision is made?

    There is very little written out there about appropriate conduct, although it seems that there is definitely a fine line between too much and not enough action…

    Thoughts all?

  14. Hi!

    I have a question…

    I recently applied to FIU’s school of Law in Miami Florida. This is my fourth attempt at trying to get into law school down here in Florida. My application was first put on hold back in February and now I received a letter stating that I am on the waiting list.

    I took the LSAT twice (and received the same score of 147) and recieved two degrees (a BA in pre-law, 3.35 gpa and then AS this past month in Legal Assisting, 3.7 gpa).

    Would it help at all to send the school my recent transcript from my second degree? What else could improve my chances of getting off the waitlist?

    Thank you so much for your help

  15. Ann K. Levine, Esq. on said:

    Of course! Everything helps. Think of this as running a campaign – don’t wait for the law school to knock on your door. Good luck!

  16. Rhomteen on said:

    Hey Ann, I was put on hold at Miami, do you have any idea on the chances of being eventually admitted and is there any way I can force their hand to make a decision earlier? They said by April 31st

  17. Ann, thanks for writing your book, I read it in one night.
    I have three schools holding my scores from the February LSAT which was a retake from my December when I scored a 151. I think I scored lower than that on my February one but I didn’t cancel my score ( I regret that now I think). I have been offered admissions to 4 schools already but the school I want to go to is Cumberland. Does anyone have any idea what’s going on there? I asked them just to go ahead and review my application now and as of 2-13-12 my status has just been “COMPLETE.” Is that essentially the same as being on “hold?” Is there anything I can do at this point to increase my chances with them? I have a 3.34 UGPA in math, but LSAC recalculated it to something else. I also have post-graduate studies and career in electrical engineering and radar engineering and am soon to sit for the Patent Bar. Thanks so much.

    • JK, “Complete” means they have everything they need to make a decision – your file is complete. Now you have to give them time to review it. You don’t say what LSAC calculated your GPA to be, so that’s scaring me a little….

  18. Rhomteen on said:

    Hey Ann, I was put on hold at Miami, do you have any idea on the chances of being eventually admitted and is there any way I can force their hand to make a decision earlier? They said by April 30th they would re-review it

  19. Hi Ann,
    I am an NYU undergrad (3.8) with 156 LSAT that I’m sure is a puzzling case for admissions. I just couldn’t get that test right on the day but managed to write a good addendum explaining etc.
    I was admitted to Kent, Loyola Chicago, Brooklyn all with $$$, wait listed at Cardozo for about a week before they admitted me (which I thought was bizarre), wait listed at Fordham and rejected at UCLA (shocker)…haven’t heard yet from NYU or Wisconsin (obviously not optimistic).
    My question is about Fordham. In my letter of continued interest does it make sense to reiterate the fact that I graduated from NYU (their top feeder school) with honors and gpa etc. on top of the fact that I want to study IP and their IP law review is fourth in the nation? Also, do I mention where I have already gotten in with merit scholarships at all?

    Thanks for your help

    • Hi Ava,
      So, Fordham already knows you’re a great student at NYU – that’s what got you WL. If you haven’t visited the school, I recommend doing so. You can talk about why it’s a great fit for you with IP offerings, but merit scholarships and other acceptances won’t convince them to admit you – leave that out of it.
      Hope this helps.
      Ann

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