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When Should You Provisionally Accept?

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Hi! Basically what the title says, I've been accepted to 4/6 of the law schools I applied to (McGill, UofT, Osgoode, Windsor) but not the one I originally wanted to attend (uOttawa). I'm waiting to hear back, but since my other offers expire on April 1st I'm wondering if I should at least provisionally accept one (likely McGill). Are there any downsides/upsides to provisionally accepting an offer? Any advice on when I should give up on waiting and focus on where I've gotten in?

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The downside is that a provisional acceptance means you will effectively be rejecting the other schools you’ve been accepted to at the time of provisional acceptance. 
 

There’s no need to provisionally accept earlier than the deadline. If you know what school you’d like to go to if Ottawa does not accept you then I’d provisionally accept to that school only to open up spots for other applicants. But, you shouldn’t feel pressured to do this. 
 

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For ON schools' offers, you would need to accept one provisionally by April 1. So, for instance, if you provisionally accept U of T, the offers from Osgoode and Windsor would then be gone. It would allow you to wait for the Ottawa decision. You would have until July 1 to wait for Ottawa, before your provisional goes firm. 

No real point in doing a provisional acceptance now, since you have until April 1, and Ottawa may make an offer by then. If there is a school that you know you will attend if Ottawa doesn't come through, then you should notify the others that you are not going to accept their offers. When you accept provisionally, you will need to make a deposit and that will not be refunded if you end up attending another school.

What is your decision date for McGill? That one isn't included in the ON info above.

 

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17 minutes ago, erinl2 said:

What is your decision date for McGill? That one isn't included in the ON info above.

The decision date for McGill is April 1st as well, so I suppose the same rules apply. I'll sit on it for a bit and keep my fingers crossed for uOttawa. Thanks for the info!

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Wait so does a provisional acceptance mean you can rescind the acceptance without paying a deposit as long as it's before July 1? And to clarify, if you make an acceptance on OLSAS but you are waiting to hear back from other places in Ontario, those applications won't close? 

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I'm also confused by this. I'm still waiting on a few responses and unsure if I'll hear by the April 1st deadline to accept an offer on OLSAS. If I don't hear from other schools and I accept one that isn't my top choice, is there a possibility to switch at a later date once I do hear back, or is that April 1st acceptance choice set in stone?

Basically - will I just lose out on a deposit or will the offers I haven't received no longer come in? 

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11 minutes ago, herewegooo said:

I'm also confused by this. I'm still waiting on a few responses and unsure if I'll hear by the April 1st deadline to accept an offer on OLSAS. If I don't hear from other schools and I accept one that isn't my top choice, is there a possibility to switch at a later date once I do hear back, or is that April 1st acceptance choice set in stone?

Basically - will I just lose out on a deposit or will the offers I haven't received no longer come in? 

So on OLSAS it says that when you provisionally accept a school you can select acceptances other schools that you want to still have for consideration, if you don't select any others they'll be marked for no further consideration (I think basically declined). Then after April 1st (or whatever the deadline is), ONLY your provisional acceptance will be available (the others that are marked for consideration will be declined since its past the acceptance deadline). 

If you provisionally accept, you can still get acceptances from other schools, even past the deadline for accepting an offer (usually April 1st), and you can switch your acceptances around. 

Tbh unless youre completely sure about the acceptance you received (in that case you could firm accept and decline all the rest), I would provisionally accept before april 1st.

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1 hour ago, herewegooo said:

I'm also confused by this. I'm still waiting on a few responses and unsure if I'll hear by the April 1st deadline to accept an offer on OLSAS. If I don't hear from other schools and I accept one that isn't my top choice, is there a possibility to switch at a later date once I do hear back, or is that April 1st acceptance choice set in stone?

Basically - will I just lose out on a deposit or will the offers I haven't received no longer come in? 

If you accept an offer provisionally by April 1, which is the deadline, any other offers you have already received will be gone. However, decisions for schools that you have yet to receive will remain open. So, if you get another offer from one of those schools after April 1, you may change your provisional acceptance to that school if you prefer it, and the first provisional acceptance school will be gone and you will lose your deposit. You may only hold one acceptance at a time. On July 1, the provisional acceptance will automatically become a firm acceptance and you will not receive any outstanding offers.

The April 1 acceptance choice is not set in stone. It's why it is called a provisional acceptance.

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I have two add-on questions:

1.  If I make a provisional acceptance by April 1 but the due date for paying the deposit isn't until June 1, and in the meantime another offer comes through from my first choice, do I still need to pay the deposit for the provisionally-accepted school?

2.  After my provisional acceptance becomes firm on July 1, what happens to schools which have waitlisted me?  Say, if I get a last-minute offer in August from my first choice, am I able to accept it then?

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12 minutes ago, phmirwal said:

I have two add-on questions:

1.  If I make a provisional acceptance by April 1 but the due date for paying the deposit isn't until June 1, and in the meantime another offer comes through from my first choice, do I still need to pay the deposit for the provisionally-accepted school?

2.  After my provisional acceptance becomes firm on July 1, what happens to schools which have waitlisted me?  Say, if I get a last-minute offer in August from my first choice, am I able to accept it then?

1) No, you don't have to pay the tuition deposit if you withdraw your provisional acceptance prior to the deposit deadline. 

2) Once you firmly accept an offer, whether that's by making a decision or hitting the July 1st deadline, your other (Ontario) waitlists automatically go away. 99% sure about that, but someone please correct me if I'm wrong.

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17 minutes ago, PlayALawyerOnTV said:

1) No, you don't have to pay the tuition deposit if you withdraw your provisional acceptance prior to the deposit deadline. 

2) Once you firmly accept an offer, whether that's by making a decision or hitting the July 1st deadline, your other (Ontario) waitlists automatically go away. 99% sure about that, but someone please correct me if I'm wrong.

Thanks for your input! 

If your answer to #2 is true, then waitlists mostly apply to applicants who do not receive a single offer by July 1.  In which case, it would seem waitlists favour weaker candidates over stronger candidates (since I would imagine most people who receive at least one offer by July 1 would logically want to provisionally accept an offer by then). 

This hardly seems fair if, say, I provisionally accept Osgoode, which becomes firm after July 1, thereby withdrawing my application for consideration by U of T.  Meanwhile an applicant who receives zero offers by July 1 but is waitlisted by U of T could potentially receive an offer from U of T in late August over me?!

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1 minute ago, phmirwal said:

Thanks for your input! 

If your answer to #2 is true, then waitlists mostly apply to applicants who do not receive a single offer by July 1.  In which case, it would seem waitlists favour weaker candidates over stronger candidates (since I would imagine most people who receive at least one offer by July 1 would logically want to provisionally accept an offer by then). 

This hardly seems fair if, say, I provisionally accept Osgoode, which becomes firm after July 1, thereby withdrawing my application for consideration by U of T.  Meanwhile an applicant who receives zero offers by July 1 but is waitlisted by U of T could potentially receive an offer from U of T in late August over me?!

This last bit really rubbed me the wrong way, so apologies in advance if the below comes off as a harsh response to what seems like a pretty toxic sense of entitlement.

It's laughable to say that waitlists favour weaker candidates over stronger candidates. No one is forcing you to provisionally accept an offer from Osgoode if you're dead set on attending U of T. They're just not offering you a safety net on a silver platter, which you seem to think is somehow unfair.

If you're only interested in attending one specific school, and you feel you'd be slumming it elsewhere, then you should have only applied to that one school in the first place. 

A big part of life is making hard decisions, and often doing so with imperfect information. We all make decisions to the best of our ability and then live with the consequences. 

Life isn't fair.

 

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Posted (edited)
11 minutes ago, PlayALawyerOnTV said:

This last bit really rubbed me the wrong way, so apologies in advance if the below comes off as a harsh response to what seems like a pretty toxic sense of entitlement.

It's laughable to say that waitlists favour weaker candidates over stronger candidates. No one is forcing you to provisionally accept an offer from Osgoode if you're dead set on attending U of T. They're just not offering you a safety net on a silver platter, which you seem to think is somehow unfair.

If you're only interested in attending one specific school, and you feel you'd be slumming it elsewhere, then you should have only applied to that one school in the first place. 

A big part of life is making hard decisions, and often doing so with imperfect information. We all make decisions to the best of our ability and then live with the consequences. 

Life isn't fair.

 

I'm sorry my post came across this way to you.  Of course life is unfair.  I am simply trying to understand how the concept of waitlisting functions in the overall application process.  The mechanisms of provisional acceptances and firm acceptances make logical sense to me, but I am confused as to how waitlists serve in the school's best interest if they would prefer to extend an offer to a more competitive candidate higher up on their waitlist but who ends up getting firmed elsewhere by July 1, versus a less competitive applicant at the bottom of their waitlist who has no offers.  

Edited by phmirwal

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18 minutes ago, phmirwal said:

Thanks for your input! 

If your answer to #2 is true, then waitlists mostly apply to applicants who do not receive a single offer by July 1.  In which case, it would seem waitlists favour weaker candidates over stronger candidates (since I would imagine most people who receive at least one offer by July 1 would logically want to provisionally accept an offer by then). 

This hardly seems fair if, say, I provisionally accept Osgoode, which becomes firm after July 1, thereby withdrawing my application for consideration by U of T.  Meanwhile an applicant who receives zero offers by July 1 but is waitlisted by U of T could potentially receive an offer from U of T in late August over me?!

Just off the cuff I'm pretty sure that schools compose a ranked waitlist and, if you email to ask, they'll tell you where you are on it. Not sure if this is true of all schools but I definitely read it about some. That being said, I also have read that there is typically very little movement on the waitlist after July because people have paid their deposits etc. If you were top 3 on the waitlist for UofT and that's your dream school (as it certainly sounds like it is) you could gamble in July. I would not recommend it, but you could. 

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1 minute ago, phmirwal said:

I'm sorry my post came across this way to you.  Of course life is unfair.  I am simply trying to understand how the concept of waitlisting functions in the overall application process.  The mechanisms of provisional acceptances and firm acceptances make logical sense to me, but I am confused as to how waitlists serve in the school's best interest if they would prefer to extend an offer to a candidate high up on their waitlist but who ends up getting firmed elsewhere by July 1, versus an applicant at the bottom of their waitlist who has no offers.  

Just to follow up, the spot might go to someone who has accepted to a school out of province and decides they'd rather go to UofT than someone who has no offers. 

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1 minute ago, UBCQuery said:

Just off the cuff I'm pretty sure that schools compose a ranked waitlist and, if you email to ask, they'll tell you where you are on it. Not sure if this is true of all schools but I definitely read it about some. That being said, I also have read that there is typically very little movement on the waitlist after July because people have paid their deposits etc. If you were top 3 on the waitlist for UofT and that's your dream school (as it certainly sounds like it is) you could gamble in July. I would not recommend it, but you could. 

Right.  But if I were #50, I would not gamble on it and I would provisionally accept another offer... thereby withdrawing myself from U of T's waitlist, correct?

2 minutes ago, UBCQuery said:

Just to follow up, the spot might go to someone who has accepted to a school out of province and decides they'd rather go to UofT than someone who has no offers. 

Yes, or to someone who decided to take a gamble and not provisionally accept any offer by July 1.  

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Just now, phmirwal said:

Right.  But if I were #50, I would not gamble on it and I would provisionally accept another offer... thereby withdrawing myself from U of T's waitlist, correct?

Yes, or to someone who decided to take a gamble and not provisionally accept any offer by July 1.  

Yes, this is correct. But, like with any gamble, you play the odds and I recall reading on the UBC waitlist thread (I think it was) that someone was in a top 5 spot in June/July did not get an offer last year. 

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Posted (edited)
40 minutes ago, phmirwal said:

I'm sorry my post came across this way to you.  Of course life is unfair.  I am simply trying to understand how the concept of waitlisting functions in the overall application process.  The mechanisms of provisional acceptances and firm acceptances make logical sense to me, but I am confused as to how waitlists serve in the school's best interest if they would prefer to extend an offer to a more competitive candidate higher up on their waitlist but who ends up getting firmed elsewhere by July 1, versus a less competitive applicant at the bottom of their waitlist who has no offers.  

Apologies for snapping. That was unkind of me. 

You're asking about how this benefits the school, but you're still looking at it through the lens of being an applicant. 

School's have X number of seats to fill. Filling the seat with the most "competitive" candidate doesn't necessarily take priority over the need to just fill seat. They need to be able to force people into making a decision, otherwise huge swathes of the applicant pool would do what you're suggesting and hold out for U of T, leaving other schools scrambling at the last minute.

The provisional / firm acceptance structure Ontario schools use is one way to force these decisions, and it's the same reason many early admission offers come with an acceptance deadline.

School's want certainty about how many butts they have in seats, and they don't want to wait until the eleventh hour to have that certainty.

Edited by PlayALawyerOnTV
typo
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1 hour ago, phmirwal said:

Thanks for your input! 

If your answer to #2 is true, then waitlists mostly apply to applicants who do not receive a single offer by July 1.  In which case, it would seem waitlists favour weaker candidates over stronger candidates (since I would imagine most people who receive at least one offer by July 1 would logically want to provisionally accept an offer by then). 

This hardly seems fair if, say, I provisionally accept Osgoode, which becomes firm after July 1, thereby withdrawing my application for consideration by U of T.  Meanwhile an applicant who receives zero offers by July 1 but is waitlisted by U of T could potentially receive an offer from U of T in late August over me?!

You would have a choice to make. Either allow your provisional acceptance to go firm, or withdraw that provisional and wait for a chance of getting off a waitlist. That is the choice that every applicant has who finds him/herself in that position. You have three months to consider that possibility from the time of the provisional until the time it becomes firm. Schools need to prepare for an entering class. If everyone got to wait indefinitely for the possibility of getting off a waitlist, it just isn't practical.

Your scenario described in your last sentence is unlikely to happen to any applicant. First of all, very few get off U of T's waitlist. Secondly, it is very unlikely that an applicant would make it to U of T's waitlist without receiving offers from any other school.

The idea of fairness in every single aspect of admissions to law school, let alone in life, is something you should dispel right now or you are in for a world of disappointment going forward.

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