Law School Admissions: What is an Administrative Hold?

by Vault Education Editors | March 18, 2010

Most law school applicants will get responses of "yes," "no," "waitlist" or "hold." According to ClearAdmit, administrative holds are much more common in this admissions season than they have been in the past. So what is an administrative hold, exactly, and how should you respond to it?

Basically, an administrative hold means that the admissions office has reviewed your application but doesn't feel prepared to make a decision. Often, this means that the admissions office considers your application to be strong, but they want to see more applicants and learn what accepted students will do. Here are some common scenarios:

  • You don't quite have the scores and GPA they're looking for, but they really like you personally.
  • They have some specific question about your application, which is keeping them from making a decision.
  • You would bring a particular skill set or perspective to the school and they want to see how that would fit with the rest of the class.

Some of these scenarios are easy to respond to, others less so. If your application is complete but the admissions office is holding to learn more about the rest of the class, and there's really not much you can do besides send a short note reaffirming your interest in the school.

If the admissions office has a specific question about your application, the hold is much easier to address. Simply address their question with as full and professional a response as possible. AdmissionsConsultants note that it's important to know why the admissions office had that question in order to best respond to it.

In a January post to the Official JD Admissions Blog at Harvard Law School, Josh Rubenstein gives applicants some insight into what they can do to get themselves out of administrative hold limbo.

If you have new information that we should have to evaluate your candidacy, definitely send it in. Updated transcripts should be sent to LSAC, but feel free to send us other updates such as honors or awards you’ve recently won, a new job, or anything else that you think could materially impact our evaluation of you. (Keep in mind that we do not open email attachments, so most updates should be sent to our office via postal mail.) Otherwise, sit tight and try not to stress too much. We’ll try and get you a decision as soon as we can.

So don't freak out if you receive a letter that your JD application is on hold. Think about what's happened since you applied--if anything--that could help the admissions office make their decision. Let the school know you're still interested and that you will wait however long it takes for them to make a decision. Most holds are lifted by March or April, so you won't have to wait much longer!

Filed Under: Education


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