In last week's post about letters of continued interest, I referred to a "duty to update," and this week I'll say a little more about that.
As Ivey Files readers know, I strongly recommend that people submit their applications early in the admissions season, ideally before the end of November. So what happens after you hit the submit button? All applications I know of include language imposing a duty on you to update your applications after you submit them and while they are still pending.
What kinds of updates do they mean? Obviously, they don't need to know that you broke up with your girlfriend, or that you finally perfected your holiday turducken (yum!). They're talking about updates to your application -- no more, no less.
Your duty to update requires you to notify schools of any parts of your applications that have changed since you submitted them. For many applications, that would include things like:
- Employment updates: Did you start a new job? Were you let go from your old job? Did you switch roles within the organization? You'll need to update.
- Education updates: Have your grades come in from fall semester? If you've already graduated, have you signed up for a class just for fun this coming semester? You'll need to update. Note that LSAC imposes a separate duty to update as well ("Updating Your Transcript Information").
- Activities updates: Have you started a new activity since you submitted? You won't score many points for that (especially if it looks as if you're doing it just for your applications), but technically, that's a required update, so you may as well. More importantly, if you've deepened your responsibilities or leadership role in an existing activity, make sure to let them know.
- LSAT updates: If you already listed the December test date on your applications, then there's nothing to upate, because they'll already know that a new score is coming down the pike.
If you didn't list the December test on your applications (most likely because you already took the test previously, and you were on the fence about whether to retake it in December), and you did in fact take the test, and you are not canceling the score, update your schools. They'll automatically receive the score once it's ready, but they'll want to know that it's on the way (which is why most applications ask you to list when you have taken or plan to take the test). If you didn't want schools to hold up your applications for a test you weren't sure you'd be retaking, then it made sense not to list it originally, but you'll also have to remember to update as soon as you have retaken it.
- Disclosure updates: Has any academic disciplinary action or legal action been taken against you since you submitted? Unfortunately, you'll have to update.
- Anything else that the application form originally asked about and that has changed in the meantime.
Is there such a thing as an unnecessary or superfluous update? You bet. I often see people write update letters that dwarf the length of their personal statements, and that's overkill.
Most commonly, I've seen people give blow-by-blow accounts of every little thing they do all day long in their new role as Junior Intern to the Assistant Deputy Chief of Communications for Senator So-And-So, or as Underling Case Assistant at Fancypants Law Firm, P.C. Guess what? In most cases, the blow-by-blow account is just not that interesting to the rest of the world. More importantly, if the application did not invite (or give you space for) that level of detail the first go-round, you shouldn't get much more granular in your update. Treat admissions officers' time as valuable. It will not help your cause if they conclude you're a pest.
Any other application updates that you have questions about? Please post in the comments.
Former Dean of Admissions at the University of Chicago Law School and a recovering lawyer, Anna Ivey founded Ivey Consulting to help college, law school, and MBA applicants navigate the admissions process. Read more admissions tips in The Ivey Guide to Law School Admissions, recently updated and available as an e-book. Follow Anna on Twitter (@annaivey).