Waitlist Updates to Law Schools: Email or Snail Mail?

I would deeply appreciate your help with two questions. I have been on Northwestern and George Washington waitlists since early January. I took your advice and have periodically expressed my continued interest through a letter, additional letter of recommendation, and a note from an alum supporting my candidacy. I would love your thoughts on the following:

1. It's been a month since my last correspondence and I would like to send them another expression of continued interest. Should I resort to another letter or would an e-mail suffice?

2. With regards to professional updates since my last correspondence, I have used my time to travel around the world ever since. Would it seem frivolous to mention this?

I am an ardent follower of your blog! Thank you for the wealth of information on what is essentially an admissions black-hole to me :) 

Thanks! Glad the blog is helpful to you.

Replies in order:

1. If you've already been in contact with your waitlist schools in three different ways (one from you directly, another from a recommender, a third from an alum), you've done more than enough to show that you're still very interested. They aren't going to harbor any doubts about that.

If your last point of contact was a month ago, you can safely give it another two months before they hear from you again. Going forward, I'd check in with them in early June, July, and August just to say, ever so briefly, "I'm still very interested."

The closer it gets to the start of school, the more anxious admissions officers are going to be whether someone on the waitlist will actually accept an offer and rearrange all of his plans so late in the game if he gets the magic phone call. For that reason, it does make sense to stay on their radar, especially the later into the summer it gets.

On the other hand, throughout the spring and summer, and before you send any additional communications, always ask yourself whether you would indeed accept an offer off the waitlist. If your thoughts at some point shift from "definitely" to "maybe" to "hmm, no, not anymore," then at that point you should take yourself off the list.

Hard-copy letters are generally never the preferred method (unless a school specifically requests that, which I haven't seen in years). Since admissions officers are largely paperless operations, or aspiring to be, communicate your updates via email rather than in hard copy. Emails are more likely to make it into your electronic file than hard copies.

2. I'm not sure, without further information, how traveling around the world constitutes a "professional update," but in any event, if you're doing extensive travel, then (a) lucky you! and (b) that could make for an interesting update to the schools.

There's no need to belabor the travel in lots of detail. In general, application updates should not exceed a paragraph or two, so you can just let them know how you've been spending your time since you applied (in your case, extensive travel to countries F, G, H, and X,Y, Z) and close your email by reiterating your continued interest.

Good luck! Please let us know what happens.


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. You can read more admissions tips in The Ivey Guide to Law School Admissions, recently updated and available as an e-book. Find Anna on Twitter and Facebook.