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Lower App Volume Can Mean Fewer Admission Offers

The number of people applying to full-time law programs has been relatively low in recent years. Senior Consultant Heike Spahn says that can affect the decisions that some applicants receive.

When application volume is low, Heike says, "My guess is that schools might make fewer outright admissions offers and then use their waitlist to round out their classes.

"It's a question of admissions statistics. Schools don't want to see an increase in their acceptance rates. So if there are fewer applicants this year, I think most schools will initially focus on admitting about the same percentage of students that they have in past years, and then fill out enrollment with the waitlist, which generally provides a better yield.

"For example, say there's a school that received 5,000 applications last year and admitted 500 people. That's a 10 per cent acceptance rate. If the same school only gets 4,500 applications this year, it would still hope to maintain its 10 per cent acceptance rate. That would mean initially admitting only 450 people."

Heike adds that fluctuations in application volume are nothing new for law schools. "It's largely tied to the economy," she says. "When the economy is strong, applications go down. Law schools see this happen every few years."

– Senior Consultant Heike Spahn formerly served as Associate Director of Admissions and Assistant Dean of Financial Aid at the University of Chicago Law School.

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