Why do you have a waitlist?
Every year, we use historical data to predict how many offers we need to make in order to fill the class—but unfortunately, historical data are imperfect predictors. For example, we made virtually the identical number of offers in 2003 as we did in 2001, but in 2001, the entering class was 360, while in 2003, it swelled to 406; significantly more people said yes to our offer in 2003 than did in 2001, for no easily identifiable reason. We maintain a waitlist in order to cushion ourselves from these unanticipated vagaries.
Again, while we have historical data about how many people typically withdraw or request deferrals, sometimes these patterns change. In other words, the problem with administering a waitlist is the amount of uncertainty in the admissions process. Because the behavior of our admitted students is to a great degree unpredictable, so is our waitlist.
When do people get offers? When does the greatest movement from the waitlist usually occur? When will you make waitlist decisions?
We have no set timeframe for making waitlist decisions, because we may learn of unexpected withdrawals at any time between May and August that require us to fill a seat. (We do not anticipate making any offers to waitlisted candidates prior to late April.) That said, important triggers are our two deposit deadlines, April 30 and June 15, and our summer-start and fall-start orientations, at the end of May and the end of August. Shortly after all of those dates, we have much more solid data about how many students plan to join us, and we accordingly use that information to make offers and/or to release people from the waitlist.
When is the latest I would receive an offer?
We try to be very sensitive to your need to finalize your law school plans, but it is always possible that we will have unexpected no-shows at the time of the registration for fall starters, and that we may therefore call waitlist participants as late as August 31 or September 1. We do everything we can to avoid that, but it has happened on a couple of occasions. If everyone we expect to have join us comes to registration for the fall start, we release all remaining waitlist participants immediately by email, with a follow-up communication by snail mail.
If it's any comfort, please remember that ultimately, control is in your hands. You should withdraw from consideration whenever you pass the point where the potential benefit of being admitted is not worth the cost of the uncertainty and stress.
How do you decide to whom to make an offer? Is the waitlist rank-ordered? Is the waitlist broken into priority groups or tiers? How large is the waitlist?
We keep our waitlist small—small enough so that the professional staff in our office are quite familiar with the applicants on it. The number of people on the waitlist is never static, however, since applicants are still choosing whether to participate through late May, and/or withdrawing their names from consideration throughout the summer. Because the waitlist is small and the number of people on it is always changing, and because we consider them holistically whenever we make offers, it is not ranked.
How likely is it that I will receive an offer? How many people will get an offer?
When making offers to waitlisted applicants, we evaluate our waitlist pool in much the same way we approach our overall applicant pool—taking all application factors into account. But as far as likelihood goes, the waitlist experience can vary enormously; in the last five years, we've made a low of 5 offers and a high of 83—with the average being 37. The smart money this year will be on the side of more offers, but it's impossible to be sure. So—we cannot make any predictions of any particular waitlisted applicant's chances of getting an offer.
Should I indicate that I'm willing to be offered a spot for the summer term (for which orientation begins in late May)?
Only if you really are willing and able to take a spot if offered! Our first priority in considering the waitlist is, naturally enough, to make sure the summer term is full; further, if you are willing to be considered for both summer and fall, that will give you a somewhat higher chance of being admitted. That said, we certainly do not have any bias against an applicant who does not want to be considered for summer; we recognize that the short timeframe for decision making presents a special burden.
If you want to make an offer, how will you communicate with me? Will you call me, email me, send me a letter?
Since time is of the essence in the waitlist process, for both applicants and Admissions, we will attempt to reach you by telephone. (Sometimes we will also follow up by email.) If we do not reach you and do not hear back from you within 24 hours, it is likely that we will need to move on to another applicant.
I will be backpacking through Europe/working in a mission in China in June/July, etc. Would this be a problem if you try to reach me? Can I leave my mom/dad/roommate in charge of handling things in my absence? Do I need to do anything formal to give permission to this individual to act on my behalf?
When we call to make offers from waitlisted candidates, we are working within difficult time constraints, so yes, it will be a problem if we can't reach you. If you find yourself in this situation but would like to be considered for the waitlist, please call or email so we can discuss your particular circumstances. If you do not make arrangements with us, it is unlikely that we will be able to make you an offer of admission.
How can I increase my chances of getting an offer? What should I do to let you know that I am interested? Is there anything I can do to make myself a stronger candidate?
While it's not in any way necessary to contact us on a frequent basis, indicating continuing interest and availability is a good way to stand out when you're on a waitlist. If you receive any new honors, awards, or grades, or get a new job or a promotion or take on a volunteer position, you should definitely let us know. If you would like to have an additional letter of recommendation submitted, that can be helpful as well. If nothing in your life has changed, but you want to indicate your ongoing interest, that alone can be helpful; feel free to send us a letter or email. Again, because of the time constraints inherent in a waitlist, the last thing we want is to make a call to someone who is no longer interested in being called. (To that end, if you decide you are no longer interested in being considered, we greatly appreciate your letting us know that.)
Is it helpful to send multiple copies of my updated resume or letter of continued interest to make sure you receive it?
No, please don't send more than one copy; we've never lost anything yet. You are welcome to send us your materials either via email or regular mail; however, it is to your advantage to send materials electronically as it speeds up the processing time. And please don’t send anything time sensitive (like a request to meet at a particular date and time) by regular mail; the resulting delay means we sometimes miss these things.
I'd like to submit another letter of recommendation. Do I need to go through LSAC?
In the interest of time, your recommender is welcome to send their letter to us directly, either via email or regular mail. It’s not necessary to have the letter processed by LSAC, though you are certainly welcome to do so.
Can I call? Can I visit? Will you interview me?
You are certainly welcome to call (or email) if we can answer any questions; you are also more than welcome to come visit if you would like more information about the Law School. And we will meet with you and answer any questions we can. We do not, however, perform evaluative interviews of any applicant, even those on the waitlist. Likewise, we will not be able to give you an estimate of the likelihood that you'll ultimately receive an offer.
Will you provide any information about the waitlist on your website?
Absolutely. We will provide frequent updates on this page.
Now that I have been waitlisted, can I contact the Financial Aid office to start gathering some numbers?
If you want, you are more than welcome to submit any or all financial aid paperwork to our Office of Financial Aid in advance of receiving an offer; please contact them directly to discuss your situation and what would be most useful. If you do receive an offer, you will then receive a financial aid award more quickly. If you're not comfortable sending that information in without knowing that you'll receive an offer, that's perfectly fine too. Unfortunately, however, the Office of Financial Aid cannot give you an estimate of any grant until you have received an offer and you have submitted your paperwork.
Candidates who receive offers from the waitlist receive consideration for need- and merit-based grants on exactly the same terms as those admitted earlier in the season.
If I'm on the waitlist and Michigan Law is my first choice, should I withdraw from other law schools and reapply next year?
This is a very risky strategy, because it is impossible to know now whether next year will be more or less competitive than this year. If you feel that you put your application together in a hurry, or applied at the last minute, or did poorly on the LSAT because you didn't prepare or were sick, then it's quite possible that you could submit a much stronger application in a subsequent year and be admitted; that is not an uncommon occurrence. But going this route is definitely a risk, because you might end up with the same outcome, or even with a denial, simply because the subsequent year could be even more competitive. We recommend that you talk with a prelaw advisor at your undergraduate institution for some counseling about your options.
I was on the waitlist, but not offered admission. Will that help or hurt my chances if I apply as a transfer student?
The fact that you were offered a spot on our waitlist means you were a competitive applicant. Participating in our waitlist process will in no way hurt your chances for future transfer admissions.
I'm currently accepted at schools A & B. Will informing you that other schools want me help my candidacy at Michigan Law?
If you are on our waitlist, we are already well aware that you are an appealing candidate with much to commend you. So telling us that other schools think that will not help your candidacy.
If I get an offer from the waitlist, how much time will I be given to accept or decline?
It depends on the timing of the offer, but in general, we try to allow those receiving an offer a week to ten days in which to respond. If we're calling you any time after early August, however, we may have to ask for a shorter response time—and if we're calling you on the first day of orientation, we'll have to ask you for an immediate answer.
If I get an offer from the waitlist, can I still defer?
If you know you want to defer and enter in a later year, we would encourage you to email us at email@example.com and let us know; we may be able to make you a deferral offer for the next year's entering class. (We typically make about 10 such offers a year.) Please don’t request a deferral unless you feel certain that beginning at Michigan a year from now is your first choice for your legal education; it is our policy that deferral is binding, and because we have a limited number of slots for deferred admission, we necessarily need to get an answer from you in a relatively short amount of time—which means you won’t have a lot of time for a visit or other similar investigation. Also, please don't wait to let us know about your interest in deferring until we call you with a waitlist offer for this year's entering class, though; because our priority at that time will be filling our current needs, the answer to your deferral request is much more likely to be no.
To be clear, a deferral offer would be in lieu of an offer for this year's entering class; you cannot receive and accept a deferral offer from us and still continue to be considered for admission this summer or fall—once you have accepted our deferral offer, we would remove you from consideration for this year's class. Please note, too, that if you request a deferral offer, you need to provide us with details of what you plan to do during your deferral year.
Sometimes our waitlisted applicants are on the fence about deferring: they have an option for something interesting to do during a deferral year, but in an ideal world, would prefer to begin law school right away. Should they ask for a deferral or not? If you find yourself in that situation in mid- to late June or later (that is, after our second deposit deadline has passed, and we have more information about what our immediate waitlist needs are likely to be), and would like a little counseling, please feel free to contact us. We’d be happy to talk to you about the pros and cons of making the request.
Finally, if you request a deferral but are not granted one, we will still consider you for admissions for the current year if you remain interested.