When to Expect a Law School Decision

Welcome to the latest installment of Law Admissions Q&A, a feature that provides law school admissions advice to readers who send in inquiries. If you have a question about law school admissions, email us for a chance to be featured in a future post.

I submitted my law school application on Sept. 1. My question is how long will the admissions committee usually take to respond to my application? Thank you for your time. JC

Hats off to you for getting your apps in as early as possible! Most law school applications open in September, so you are clearly ahead of the crowd.

Since law school admissions are rolling, it is a good idea to apply early in the cycle for your best odds. This may be especially true this year. With a high number of applicants taking the online LSAT at home, there are signs that last year’s high tide of applicants may not recede quite yet.

[Read: Law School Overenrollment — Advice for Applicants]

There is no fixed answer for how long it takes to hear back from law schools. Generally, admissions offices start reviewing applications around October and aim to make decisions within six weeks. So the earliest you may hear back is likely mid-November.

However, law school decisions often take an agonizingly long time. While most law schools issue the bulk of their decisions by early March, the most prestigious law schools, like Yale Law School and Stanford Law School, typically make decisions relatively late, in March or even April.

If you end up on any waitlists, you might not receive a yes or no until after the start of classes, although many decisions are made around May and June after accepted applicants put down seat deposits and withdraw their outstanding applications.

[READ: When, How Law Schools Use Waitlists.]

If you apply early decision, you should receive an answer sooner. Some law schools incentivize applying early by promising early applications will be reviewed within a specific time frame, like six weeks. However, since schools may merely defer early applicants to the general admission pool rather than accept or reject them, even applying early is no guarantee of a quick answer.

The disappointing truth is that even if you put in the work to complete your fall application checklist and get your applications out soon after they open, you may still have to dig in for many months of waiting.

While a long wait may drive you up the wall, it is not necessarily a bad sign. Admissions officers may hesitate to issue final decisions until they have a full picture of their applicant pool.

For example, imagine you are an applicant with a strong background in science and technology. Generally, law schools appreciate such candidates. But they may not make a final decision until getting a sense of how you compare against other candidates with similar strengths.

Keep Your Cool While Awaiting a Decision

If you do not hear from a school you are interested in by late winter, do not fire off rash emails to the admissions office to check in on your application or demand answers or reiterate how much you really, really want to get in.

[Read: How Law School Applicants Can Prevent Self-Sabotage]

Instead, consider sending a brief, courteous email with an update on any changes to your application since you submitted it. For example, a job change, a promotion or honor, or a new volunteer activity might provide an opportunity to show continued achievement in your career or on campus.

If this all makes it sound like you face a year of stress and anxiety ahead, remember that once you are in law school, no one will ever know or care when you received your decision. Memories of the application process will quietly fade away, overtaken by new stresses like looming exams!

More from U.S. News

13 Tips to Build a Strong Law School Application

How to Write a Resume for Law School Applications

Advice for Older Law School Applicants to Consider

When to Expect a Law School Decision originally appeared on usnews.com

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