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ND Law School closes deposit form nine days before deadline

| Friday, April 9, 2021

Notre Dame Law School (NDLS) closed its deposit form Tuesday evening, nine days before the deposit deadline to confirm enrollment, after the spots in the incoming class went from 67% to 100% full in six hours.

In their acceptance letters, admitted students were told they had until April 15 to submit a non-refundable $600 deposit to confirm enrollment at NDLS for the fall of 2021 or until the maximum number of deposits were received.

In an email to The Observer Wednesday, an NDLS spokesperson said the school implemented the new policy after an “unexpectedly high” yield rate for the class that enrolled in 2019. This is the second admissions cycle with the policy in place, NDLS said.

In emails obtained by The Observer, NDLS director of admissions Jacob Baska informed admitted students Tuesday morning at 10:57 a.m. that the maximum number of deposits was being reached quicker than expected.

“Based on deposit activity over the Easter weekend, we believe it is possible that we may have to close our deposit form before April 15,” the email said. “Currently, we have received 67% of our maximum number of deposits — a level that we typically reach just two or three days before the deposit deadline.”

The email informed students that emails would be sent when 80% of deposits had been made, then when 90% of deposits had been made and, finally, when the maximum number of deposits had been reached.

Students were informed at 4:10 p.m. that same day that 80% of deposits had been reached.

At 5:02 p.m., another email was sent saying, “We have now reached our target number of deposits (i.e., deposits surged immediately from 80% to 100% since our last email).”

Three admitted students confirmed no email was sent to them when the 90% threshold was reached.

One admitted student, who wished to remain anonymous so as to not risk a spot on the waitlist, was at work from 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. and not able to make the deposit during the day Tuesday.

“I was either driving the work truck around or at a job site, so I had no ability to be able to check my email during the day,” the student said.

The student had made the decision Monday night to submit the deposit after having the chance to speak with family on the financial logistics, but had not gotten around to actually submitting the deposit by Tuesday morning.

“It was a world of just pain and anger … because I was literally just 24 hours short,” the student said.

Another admitted student who was also at work during the day Tuesday said they were, at the time, still weighing their options and feeling like they could not yet put the deposit down in “good faith.”

“I just hadn’t placed my deposit yet because this weekend … I have an event with another school, and I just wanted to do my due diligence,” that second student said.

However, after seeing the first email Tuesday morning, the student planned to submit the deposit later that day.

“[I] got that email, I was at work, but I did manage to see it, and I thought ‘Okay, since it’s going up when I get home from work today, I’m going to call my dad because we’ve been kind of going through this process together,’ wanting to talk to him before I did anything else,” the student said. “But I figured, ‘Talk to my dad, I’ll probably end up depositing tonight because I want to be safe’.”

NDLS reminded admitted students on multiple occasions of the policy, their spokesperson said in an email to The Observer.

“We advise admitted students of this policy in their admission letter, their scholarship letter, the information packet that is mailed to them, and on the website for admitted students,” the email said.

Two admitted students — now waitlisted — confirmed they were initially told the likelihood of the form closing early was “very unlikely.”

The NDLS spokesperson said the admissions chose to err on the side of transparency in alerting students of the current percent of maximum deposits made.

Wednesday morning, legal blog Above the Law published an article referencing comments from Sarah Zearfoss, senior assistant dean at the University of Michigan Law School, calling the process “insane” and “unhinged.”

The NDLS spokesperson said in an email that the comments in the article were “unfair” and that they mischaracterized the rationale behind their policy — that NDLS is a small law school and believes this environment benefits its students.

“Therefore, the deposit policy is designed to prevent over-enrollment and to maintain our small law school environment for students,” the spokesperson said.

An email with a continued interest form was sent out Wednesday afternoon, by which students who were unable to submit a deposit could get on the waitlist. The NDLS spokesperson said those who fill out the form will be given priority over those on the normal waitlist if spots become available.

Regarding the $600 deposit, admitted students were encouraged to reach out to the office of financial aid to waive the fee so finances don’t impede a student’s ability to reserve their spot in the incoming class.

“The deposit is not meant to be a financial hurdle. If students contact us and explain how it is a financial hurdle for them, then we are willing to remove that obstacle,” the spokesperson said.

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About Alysa Guffey

Alysa is a sophomore pursuing a major in history with a minor in journalism, ethics and democracy. While she calls Breen-Phillips her home on campus, she is originally from Indianapolis. She currently serves as the Notre Dame News Editor.

Contact Alysa