Our students have been receiving likely letters (photo credit: Gavin Huang).
Some students might be receiving likely letters from highly selective colleges around now. Now remember, plenty of students gain admission to Ivy League and other highly selective colleges without receiving likely letters so don’t stress out if you haven’t gotten one just yet. If, however, you have received a likely letter, it likely reads something like this:
Greetings from Dartmouth! It’s a pleasure to contact you to share some encouraging news.
We have reviewed your application for admission and think you are an outstanding prospect for Dartmouth. In fact, I recently read your file and was exceedingly impressed with your academic accomplishments and intellectual potential.
There is no question that when we make our final decisions at the end of March, you will be offered admission to Dartmouth. We hope you will strongly consider joining the Class of 2018 next fall.
I hope this letter will put your mind at ease, as the college application process can be a long and arduous one. If you have any questions about life at Dartmouth, both in and out of the classroom, please don’t hesitate to let me know. Feel free to send me an email – email@example.com – or give me a call at 603.646.2604. I’d be glad to connect you with current students and faculty to help you learn more about our academic programs, extracurricular opportunities, and life as a student.
Best wishes for a productive and enjoyable remainder of your high school experience and I hope to meet you soon.
Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid
Note the “there is no question that when we make our final decisions…” Dartmouth wants to make sure that Eli chooses to matriculate to Dartmouth. Have a question on receiving likely letters? Post a Comment below and we’ll be sure to answer it for you!
There was a nice piece on Yale likely letters in “The Yale Daily News” yesterday. In an article entitled “‘Likely letters’ part of Yale admit strategy” written by Kimberly Chow, it’s discussed how instrumental likely letters are in the admissions process at Yale. While the Ivy League universities can’t notify Regular Decision admits of their admissions decisions until the spring, likely letters are a great way to get around this stipulation. Likely letters, if you’re not familiar with them, are notes from the admissions office that tell students essentially that their admission is imminent. In the case of one student described in the article, Rui Bao, she not only got a likely letter but she also received a call from her Yale alumni interviewer, a Yale admissions officer, and she received a Yale sweatshirt in the mail. Now that’s recruitment! They clearly wanted her.
Yale is well known for sending out likely letters to students they want very much to attend their institution.
So why does Yale send out likely letters, you ask? The answer is that they want to win these students over. They don’t want students like Rui Bao going to Harvard or Stanford. They want Rui going to Yale and by letting her know before other schools that they intend to admit her, she can start thinking about going to Yale and envisioning herself as a Bulldog. From a psychological standpoint, it’s quite smart. According to the piece in “The Yale Daily News,” “[Jeffrey] Brenzel, [Yale's Dean of Admissions], said the fundamental reason that the Yale admissions office sends likely letters is that students admitted under regular decision have just a month to make their decisions, during which time they may be considering many other offers. Students admitted under early action, on the other hand, have months to learn more about Yale and imagine themselves on campus before they hear back from any other schools.” Makes good sense, right?
What do you think about Yale likely letters? Do you think it’s unfair that some students receive likely letters while others have to wait it out? Do you think that more and more universities throughout the country will be sending out likely letters in the future? Let us know your thoughts on the matter by posting below!
In college admissions, a small percentage of applicants at many colleges across the country receive likely letters, early notification that they will in all likelihood be admitted (photo credit: Bryan Y.W. Shin).
For a small percentage of applicants every college admissions cycle, receiving what is termed a “likely letter” can be a welcome surprise. What is a likely letter? It’s a letter that certain colleges send out in February indicating that the candidate will in all likelihood be admitted. It’s a way of tipping off the applicant early on so they don’t have to wait until the end of March or April.
Who gets likely letters? Not just any candidate. Likely letters are typically reserved for the very top of the admitted students, those students who the admissions office very much wants to be a part of the incoming class. Maybe it’s a coveted shortstop for the baseball team or an African American candidate with top academic credentials. Maybe it’s the student who somehow managed to publish a paper in “Cell.” That would be extremely rare!
It should be noted that not all colleges send out likely letters. But many do. And the system the colleges have in place to determine who will receive a likely letter is different at most universities. Typically, the colleges use a ranking system and for those applicants who land at the top of the ranking, they’ll receive likely letters before the end of February. And if you receive a likely letter, it means you will indeed be accepted…so long as your grades and behavior remain consistent from when you applied!
Penn is one of many highly selective universities that sends out likely letters.
On March 4th, students who applied to the University of Pennsylvania and stood out as exceptional in the pack of applicants received an e-mail communication from the University of Pennsylvania’s Dean of Admissions Eric Furda with a link to a site featuring a video.
Said Furda in the video, “You’re among a small group of students who are designated as likely candidates, meaning that on March 30 you’re going to be admitted to the University of Pennsylvania.” It marked the first time the university had informed applicants of their “likely” status by a video. Some applicants to Penn were skeptical of the link’s authenticity but Furda soon posted a note on a college admissions forum that the video was indeed authentic.
This video tipping off applicants to Penn of their “likely to be admitted” status continues the trend of Ivy League schools informing applicants early that they stand a good chance of admission. It is the hope of the Ivy League colleges and other competitive universities to use these notifications as a way to lure the students to matriculate to the college and steer them away from the competition.
Columbia sends out what are known as “likely letters.”
If you get a letter from a college that reads something like this and you’re not sure what this letter is, you’ve just received what is known as a “Likely Letter.”
I am writing to inform you that your application to Columbia University has been carefully evaluated and that you have earned designation as a likely candidate for admission to Columbia College. As long as our midyear review finds that you are maintaining your current level of academic progress and good standing, you can expect to receive favorable word when admissions packets are mailed on March 30th.
The Committee on Admissions was deeply impressed with your scholastic and personal achievements, and we look forward to all you might add to our rich campus community. I offer you my sincere congratulations on your accomplishments thus far and eagerly anticipate those that lie ahead.
If we can be of any help to you, please do not hesitate to contact the Admissions Office at firstname.lastname@example.org or 212-854-2522. Please save these dates for Columbia College Days on Campus for admitted students: April 10th and 11th or April 17th and 18th, when events will include a hosted overnight visit, a chance to sit in on classes, tours of New York City and much more. I hope you can join us.
All of us here wish you the best during the exciting months ahead.
Dean of Undergraduate Admissions
Likely letters are a way for colleges to let you know that they want you, that barring a major drop in your senior year grades, you will in all likelihood be admitted. In the Ivy League, in particular, where athletic scholarships are not offered, it is quite common for recruited athletes to receive likely letters between October 1st and March 15th.
Why do they do this? Because, as Cheap Trick’s lyrics go, the colleges want you to want them. In order to facilitate that, they’re giving you this heads up. It’ll allow you to take a deep breath, to enjoy your senior year of high school (even though you must keep up your grades or risk the likely letter turning into a letter of rejection).
The Ivy League colleges are particularly motivated to send these letters out to their sought after athletes because other Division I schools that are not in the Ivy League can often essentially grant admission to recruited athletes whereas in the Ivy League, every student is admitted through the Office of Admissions. Each team has a certain amount of slots and each team carries a certain amount of weight. A point guard from Oaks Christian Academy who can help revitalize a basement dweller basketball program at Brown has a stronger chance of admission than a :49 second 100-yard freestyler because basketball takes precedence over swimming. Basketball is a revenue generated sport, swimming isn’t.
When Harvard and Princeton eliminated their early admission programs four years ago, this proved another setback for coaches at these universities hoping to secure the best possible talent for their respective teams. Said Harvard women’s volleyball coach Jennifer Weiss, “Now that we don’t have our early action program, it’s very important to have likely letters. We’re still competing against schools that [do]. People are making decisions early. They can’t hold out a decision from Harvard until April.”
Should you receive a Likely Letter, know that you are under no obligation to attend that college just as they are under no obligation to admit you. In fact, in the Ivy League, colleges are not permitted to ask for a commitment when they send you a likely letter. Admissions offices will not even inquire if you plan to attend when they send out a Likely Letter. Does that mean a coach won’t call and ask you if you intend to matriculate? It doesn’t. Coaches are human. They want to help their team and secure the best possible class of recruits. So yes, they will ask, but you don’t have to answer in the affirmative.
Need-blind admissions is a farce. You heard it here first (photo credit: Bryan Y.W. Shin).
When students apply for Regular admissions, the deadline is typically January 1st and the decision letters are generally received during the first week of April. While many of The Ivy Coach students were accepted in the Early Decision round, some students only applied Regular Decision and so for them the waiting game continues. Now at the beginning of March, we’re hearing that many of our students who applied Regular Decision are getting earlier notification or likely letters. While an early notification letter is a formal acceptance, a likely letter tells the student, “We can’t tell you officially yet, but we love you, and you’ll most likely be admitted.” Of course anything is possible, but we have never had a student receive a likely letter and then get rejected. So this is a great stress reliever for some very worried applicants.
With unemployment rising, the economy on the skids, and colleges anxious about producing the yield that they expect, we’re not surprised that our students who are considered by the college as “full-pays” and who applied Early Decision got accepted, and we’re even less surprised that our students who applied Regular Decision got early notification and likely letters from these highly selective colleges. We’re also beginning to understand why selective colleges are not only sending out acceptances months before they normally do but that they’re offering merit money to full-pay students who probably would not have been awarded this last year. One might conclude that these colleges are attempting to entice students by offering a financial incentive because a partial-pay is still better than an empty seat.
It seems to us that the year that we anticipated to be the most competitive in history may be evolving into a buyer’s market. We don’t envy admissions deans who are concerned about their yield. We still expect them to rate their applicants on demonstrated interest and if they determine there has been little interest on the student’s part, we expect that those students will be waitlisted. Oh, and we anticipate much longer waitlists than in previous years.
So for full-pay students who are still waiting to hear from the colleges to which they applied, hang in there. If you’ve played by the rules and demonstrated the interest, you might be getting better news than you expected.
Stay tuned for our April newsletter entitled, “Need Blind Admissions – Does it Really Exist?” If you’re not yet a subscriber, please do sign-up. Our newsletters are FREE and we try to make them most informative.
For those who would like to see a “likely letter,” here’s a sample of Columbia University’s received by two of The Ivy Coach students last week. It’s not as mushy as some others, but it makes the same point – stop worrying, you’re in.
I am writing to inform you that your application to The Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science at Columbia University has been carefully evaluated and that you have earned the designation as a likely candidate for admission. As long as our midyear review finds that you are maintaining your current level of academic progress and good standing, you can expect to receive favorable word when admissions packets are mailed on March 31st.
The Committee on Admissions was deeply impressed with your scholastic and personal achievements and with your demonstrated interest in the fields of engineering and applied science. I offer you my sincere congratulations on your accomplishments thus far and eagerly anticipate those that lie ahead.
If we can be of any help to you, please do not hesitate to contact the Admissions Office at email@example.com or 212-854-2522. If you have any questions about studying engineering and applied science at Columbia, feel free to contact the professors in the departments listed below. Please save the date for Columbia Engineering Days on Campus on April 17th and 18th, which will include an overnight stay, a chance to visit classes and labs, tours of New York City and much more. I hope you can join us, and all of us here wish you the best during the exciting months ahead.