We Have Begun Reviewing Files (And a Few Other Things We Think You Should Know)

And so the admissions cycle really begins. The title says it all. We have begun reviewing files. Our first decisions should be out by Thanksgiving, and we will continue making decisions on a rolling basis throughout the coming months. We guarantee every applicant whose file is complete by March 1 a decision by no later than late March/early April, and we typically make the bulk of our admissions decisions in January and February. Our first merit scholarship awards are mailed out in early to mid January with awards being made periodically thereafter.

One of the hardest things about being a law applicant is the unpredictability of it all. No two law schools approach the application process in exactly the same way, and these differences have very real implications for how your file will be reviewed, when you will receive a decision and a great many other things that likely mean a great deal to you. However, there are a few things you can expect from our admissions office. These are our goals for your admissions cycle:

We will answer your questions. Whether you call or send an email, stop by for a visit or meet us on the road, we will have time for you. The great thing about being a student at W&L is that everyone is accessible. Want to speak with your professor? You can. Most of our professors do not even have office hours. They have an open door policy, meaning, if your professor is in her office, you can absolutely walk in, and she will have time to talk with you. Want to meet with our Associate Dean for Student Services? You can. Most of our students could walk into our Associate Dean for Student Services’ office this afternoon, and she would know who they were, where they were from, what classes they were taking, where they worked last summer and what they’re involved in on campus. Need help? Just ask someone.

This level of personal attention is a very W&L thing, and we feel your experience as an applicant should be no different than your experience as a student at W&L Law. We think it would be a little weird if you couldn’t speak with someone in our admissions office or get anyone to respond to your emails. If you have questions, we have answers, and we most certainly have time to for you.

We will read your entire file. As you are hopefully aware, we take a holistic approach to file review (i.e. we will read your entire file), and, as a result, it sometimes take us a little longer to review files than other schools. Nevertheless, while using an admissions index or formula would be quicker, we feel reading the whole file is more fair to you and really the only way we can find those students who would be a good fit at our law school.

At W&L Law, people matter, and we are genuinely interested in who you are as a person. Just think about the size of our incoming class: 134. In a few months on campus, you will likely know everyone in your class and a lot of other people in the law school. Consequently, we want to admit people who share our values, who will thrive in a small, personal, liberal arts environment, and who will bring an interesting perspective to our community. The only way we can achieve any of these goals is by reading your entire file. We know the waiting is hard, but we will do our best to review files in as expeditious a manner as possible. And if you ever have a question or we can help in any way, please let us know.

We will keep you informed. Admittedly, we can’t tell you everything and sometimes there’s really not a lot to tell, but we will definitely try to take some of the mystery out of the application process. We want to make sure your application process goes as smoothly as possible, and we believe simply providing you with information can go a long way towards this end.

At our law school, student feedback matters, and our students play a significant role in shaping the life and culture of the school. Consistent with this ethic, each and every year, we ask a number of our applicants for their thoughts on their application process, and, this year, in light of recent comments, we have decided to make a few changes.

One of the biggest changes we’ve made is with our notification procedures. Specifically, this year, we will notify you of your decision via the Applicant Status Online (ASO) interface. Last year, the ASO feature was new for our office, and there was definitely an adjustment process. We decided not to provide candidates with their decisions online for fear that doing so would be too impersonal, too abrupt and not the sort of thing you would expect from our law school. However, after listening to last year’s applicants, we have decided that what you really want is just to know your decision, and that providing it online is actually preferred. Soon after you submit your application, you will receive your Applicant Status Online (ASO) login information. If for some reason, you do not receive this email, please let us know, and we will gladly resend it.

If you are admitted or waitlisted, you will also receive a letter from our office confirming your decision. There are separate webpages for admitted and waitlisted students that contain a great deal of information you might find useful in the coming months, and we strongly encourage you to check them out. If you are denied, you will not receive a letter. This is also a change from prior years. We felt sending a letter to a denied applicant after she had already learned of her decision online would be unnecessary and a little cruel.

Once your file is complete, you will be eligible for review. You will be notified of your complete status via your Applicant Status Online interface as well as by email. Soon thereafter, you will also receive an email entitled “Applicant FAQs” detailing a number of questions applicants typically have. Please take a moment to review this email, and, of course, if you have a question that is not addressed in this email, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Furthermore, this year, we have added a couple new statuses to our ASO feature:

Absent express instruction directing us otherwise, if an applicant already has an existing LSAT score (and all the other materials necessary to be complete), but is registered for a future LSAT, we have always held her file for review until the new LSAT score is available. However, in past years, we did not expressly inform applicants in this particular situation their file was being held for this reason. As you might imagine, this created some confusion, (occasionally) some frustration and quite a few calls. Consequently, and for this very reason, we now have a status, “Complete – Holding for Future Test.” However, if you are such an applicant and you would like for us to remove the hold and consider your file on the basis of your prior score, we are more than happy to do so. Please just send us an email indicating this preference (LawAdm@wlu.edu) and we will code your file “Complete.”

Last year, if your file was “In Review” your ASO would continue to show as “Complete” but the status date would change. As you can imagine, this change sparked a great deal of speculation amongst applicants. We received countless calls and emails, and, as a result, this year, when your file is “In Review” your status will show as “In Review.” It just seems easier for everyone involved and removes an obvious source of stress for you. The application process is hard enough. We certainly do not want to make it harder.

Once your file is under review, you will receive an email with additional information regarding our file review process and decision timeline. This is also a change from last year. In addition, applicants in review should have a decision within three to four weeks of their updated status. We hope providing you with some more definitive information regarding just how your application process will progress at various intervals throughout the year will take some of the stress out of applying to law school, or at the very least, our law school.

As always, we sincerely appreciate your interest in W&L Law, and we consider ourselves truly fortunate to have so many qualified people interested in law school. Best of luck!

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