Coping with Waiting to Hear Back from Law Schools as a Splitter

The other day I saw a thread on Top Law School forums about low GPA high LSAT folks being stressed out from waiting to hear back from law schools. Here’s the advice I gave:

Two Possible Outcomes

As a low GPA high LSAT splitter you will likely have two different admissions outcomes:

  • The first, and most common outcome is that you will get into a decent law school (but not one of your reaches) fairly early on in the process. Because you will want certainty in the process, you will put down a deposit, rent an apartment, and get excited to start 1L year. That’s it. You’re going to give up on the “dream” of getting into a top school. It would have been nice to get into that T14, but a T25 ain’t bad either so you make peace with going to the T25. This is the path most splitters end up taking.
  • The second, and more psychologically painful path, is to “max out” the ranking of the school they end up going to. These folks have to accept a lot of uncertainty for a really long time. So they’ll have a bunch of acceptances to good schools in hand but want to hold out for that T14. That means hanging out on hold lists and waitlist throughout the summer. The summer is where the action is–other candidates are starting to make their choices and your reach schools are learning how many open spots they have left.

The reason I bring this up is to remind you that if you really want to get into X school, you should know that you’ll be taking the second path. It’s going to be psychologically hard–very hard.

Related: See my silly blog post Unrequited Love expressing my feelings about being on the Northwestern waitlist.

However, the discomfort associated with waiting is actually helpful to your cause because that’s exactly what all the other marginal candidates are feeling. As a 2.9/170 I hated all the waiting too, but I also knew that the 3.0/172s; 2.8/175s; and 3.9/164s out were going through the same exact thing. I also knew a lot of them would get into some solid schools and withdraw from the waitlist.

That meant less competition for me.

I know the uncertainty is tough, especially if you’re facing tough housing choices or need clarity for your significant other. I just want to emphasize that if you are happy to wait all the way to the very end, you could get some amazing and incredible results. I thought I got into Northwestern fairly late (June) but after 1L year I learned that many of my friends got in off the waitlist in July and August. There were multiple people who got in days before orientation began–and I even heard a story of someone who got into multiple T14s at the very end and ended up negotiating some scholarship money.

Related: How To Get Into a Top Law School With a Low GPA

I guess this is my long winded way of saying that your patience –and all that stressing out/waiting–will pay off. You obviously have no way to know for sure if you’ll definitely get into your dream school, but your odds change dramatically towards the end of the cycle. I applied back when law school applications were super competitive, so I imagine schools will be scrambling even more nowadays than when I did.

Related: Dealing with Deferrals and Waitlists

This is exactly the right mentality to have. If you’re a low GPA high LSAT splitter you should be thankful for this opportunity. Many other doors are probably closed to you (medical school, etc.). Yet you have this opportunity not only to get into law school, but to get into an elite law school. If you pull this off correctly you can erase the mistakes of undergrad. That’s why I told myself to give up certainty of knowing what law school I’d attend in exchange for waiting it out to max out the best school I could get into.

The Long Term Perspective:

The last thing I want to say is that even though it seems like what school you end up getting into is a big deal, in the long term it doesn’t matter anywhere as much as you think.

I know a lot of low GPA high LSAT splitters who got into top schools easily and ended up with a lot of problems down the road (can’t find jobs, failed the bar, etc.). I also know splitters who ended up attending lower ranked schools who dominated 1L year, made law review, landed an elite biglaw job, etc. Getting into a top law school, whether it’s T14, T6, YHS, or whatever, is not the golden ticket you might think it is. Everything comes down to the work you put in over the long term. That’s why it’s incredibly important to be resilient, persistent, and keep at your long term goal.

Related: Overcoming Failure

You might get lucky today (got into X school without being on the waitlist) but that luck is subject to change in multiple points down the road. You might get a B on your A+ law exam; you might get rejected from law review despite having top grades; you might get zero offers from biglaw firms, etc. A lot of these things are out of your control and rely heavily on luck but if you put in the work, over the long term you will more or less get what you deserve.

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