Wednesday, March 05, 2008


For those of y'all who have been through the law and graduate school process, I have a question for you.

As you might already know, I applied to 20 programs -- 9 law, 11 Ph.D. Of those, I have as of today heard back from 12 (6 law, 6 Ph.D). We're entering March now -- getting towards the end of the process.

My thought process thus far regarding the late places has been essentially that I am, in some ways, a difficult candidate. My test scores place me a good bracket or so higher than my GPA does -- in fact, for the remaining law schools, my GPA is well below their admitted 25th percentile while my LSAT scores are comfortably above their 75th. My non-numerical profile is strong, but not invincible -- I can see how it'd be really appealing, and I can see how it'd be run of the mill. So, I assumed, the delay was simply that I'm a tough choice, and they're putting it off.

Now I'm wondering if there isn't a more mundane explanation: schools are simply not in as big of a hurry to get back to those they rejected (or, to be more charitable, they are less excited to reject folks than they are to accept them). This is, to some extent, anecdotal -- I started the process off red-hot, but four of the last six decisions I've received have been denials. That could be explained by lots of things or nothing or paranoia on my part. And I want to stress that the places I have been admitted to are fantastic programs -- I am in a great situation even if I don't get into a single other school.

But I do wonder -- do programs still admit folks this late? Or is what I see all I've got? I just don't want to put off thinking about where I should go next year in the vain hope that I still have a chance in the tardy schools.

Advice appreciated.


Stentor said...

I suspect it has more to do with the school than with you. I would imagine most schools send out acceptance and rejection letters all at once once they make their decisions on everybody. But some schools are just really slow to get through the process.

When I applied to grad schools, I waited until the last possible day to choose between Clark and Madison. The day after I sent off my decision, I got an email from McGill saying basically "we're just getting around to going through applications. Do you still want to be considered?"

esquiver said...

My experience (from multiple, if unused, degrees) is that, yes, admits do still come late in the season, and no, not all decisions go out at once. I agree that schools vary, but I've seen a number that operate with a kind of pre-wait list. That is, they'll grab the candidates that have committee unanimity early on, and take a bit of time to try to sound out how interested those people are in their program. Then, with a rough sense of their likely matric-to-admit ratio, they'll make another pass before turning to the wait list. It's totally not in a school's interests to reject from the "maybe" pile until as late in the season as possible.

Unknown said...

I think U of M admitted me roughly this time last year. And I know people who were admitted in May. So what sucks is that some places you won't hear a definite answer from until after the acceptance deadline for others passes. I have a friend now at NYU who had that experience with Harvard.

Cara said...

David, you're awesome. Rejections suck, but, with the places you've gotten into so far (any new developments?), poor little you? Also: I hear clerks for the D.C. Circuit get sweet networking lunches with delicious, delicious canapes. It's something to aspire to (the canapes, not the clerkships, mind).

PG said...

In my similar low-GPA high-LSAT experience, they start admitting people off the wait list at the beginning of May -- my "you're on the wait list" letter from Georgetown was a week before my "you're admitted!" letter from same. If there's someplace you're dying to attend and you can afford to lose a deposit at a school that's admitted you, wait out the summer. I got into Columbia a week before orientation (luckily UT-Austin was a cheap place to drop).