Likely Letter What Is It and How Do You Get One

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The competition between colleges and universities is always intense. Many students feel incredibly agitated, especially in the regular pool of applicants. One of the tools used by the top prestigious and highly selective colleges across the nation is the likely letter. However, there seems to be a lot of confusion about what the letter indicates.

First of all, this letter is used by the very best universities. It’s often a letter to notify the top choices that they will likely be selected for the next rounds. Hence, it gives them hope. But how probable are you to get admitted if you receive a likely letter? And can you guarantee to get one?

This piece will explain everything you’ll need to know about the letter and whether receiving one award you good news.

What Does a Likely Letter Mean?What Does a Likely Letter Mean?

We all know how the top universities seem to have internal and personal competition going on. Of course, everyone wants the top students to be enrolled in their universities. Whether they want the talent or see something special, they’ll likely try to attract you to their campus in any way possible.

So, that being said, what is a likely letter? In a way, it’s a personal letter sent to you by a college. It’s an attempt to attract you even more to your university. This is often sent for applicants, top ones, during the regular round of applications.

These likely letters are also often referred to as “love letters.” Keep in mind that not everyone will receive one of those. However, it usually is written in a very positive manner. This is meant to keep you interested and keep your hopes up, as you’re a very likely candidate for their university.

Hence, you might be expecting one if you’re one of the very top students. In simpler terms, it’s a tool to notify you that you’re likely to be accepted. This allows you to prepare in some sense and enable the college to keep you on the hook.

Who Gets a Likely Letter?

Who Gets a Likely Letter?

You cannot ever know for sure who gets a likely letter. However, it often is sent to top athletes and stellar academics. Hence, many top students receive such letters from top colleges everywhere. While you can never guarantee that you’ll be one of them, if you’re considered an achieving student, you might receive one.

Remember that receiving a likely letter does not guarantee you’ll be accepted into the university. However, it does increase your chances of being chosen later on. You’re basically nearly guaranteed a spot at your choice of university.

The main reason such letters are sent out is because of the competition. Sure, the top students in the nation compete for a position at the top university. Still, those accomplished colleges are also competing against one another.

Hence, to attract you more to their university, they might send you a likely letter. That minimizes the time you have to wait to receive your results. You’ll typically receive your application result in late March or early April. This means you’ll be waiting for a minimum of 3 months after completing your application.

Hence, instead of having to constantly worry and wait around for your result, this puts your mind at ease. Even if it doesn’t guarantee your acceptance, it will definitely boost your confidence and make you feel better. That’s what the top colleges do, as they want you to choose them over others.

What Percentage of Applicants Get Likely Letters?

What Percentage of Applicants Get Likely Letters?

According to the Harvard Crimson, 300 likely letters were sent out to the class of 2015. Of which 200 were athletes. Hence, many top universities send possible letters primarily to students with excellent athletic abilities.

However, during that year, approximately 34,950 students applied to Harvard. Of which only 6.2% were admitted. Doing some rough math gives you the calculation for how many of those applicants received a likely letter. The number is a mere 0.86%. However, this is an Ivy League college, so the competition is already much higher than in other places.

In general, the amount of people who do receive a letter is minimal. Out of every 100 people applying, the average percentage of applicants to get a likely letter won’t exceed 2%. Hence, it’s pretty challenging to ensure you get one. However, others state that your chances of getting a likely letter as a regular applicant are approximately 20%. Hence, the numbers aren’t set in stone and will differ according to the university.

Are Likely Letters a Guaranteed Ticket to Admission?

Are Likely Letters a Guaranteed Ticket to Admission?

What is a college likely letter? And does it guarantee admission into the university of your dreams? Well, the simple answer is “no.” Likely letters are tools Ivy Leagues and other prestigious colleges use to draw you into the college. It increases your interest and allows them to believe that your chances of choosing their campus are higher.

However, many people who have received likely letters are rejected later on. As the actual letter or acceptance/rejection/waitlist is announced later on, around the beginning of April, anything you receive beforehand doesn’t guarantee admission.

However, raising your hopes isn’t a bad idea. However, when you hopefully receive one, ensure that you keep your grades high and don’t get suspended or expelled. That definitely will defer you from the path of possibly getting into college.

While it’s good to dream, don’t put all your hopes into the likely letter. Sometimes, universities do change their minds, or they might send possible letters to all their top applicants. If that’s the case, they’re also putting themselves in a position where they must eventually choose between those students.

Some of the top universities that send out likely letters, although they don’t always admit it, are:

  • Duke
  • Dartmouth
  • Cornell
  • Columbia
  • Harvard
  • Yale
  • Brown
  • Princeton
  • U Chicago
  • U Penn
  • Standford
  • MIT
  • UCLA
  • Rice University
  • Bowdoin College

The list is not limited to those mentioned above. It’s sometimes impossible to anticipate whether your choices send out likely letters, as many don’t admit to it. Others who agree that they send out likely letters don’t share their statistics. Hence, it’s challenging to determine how many people receive one.

How Do You Get a Likely Letter?

How Do You Get a Likely Letter?

First, remember that receiving a likely letter isn’t a binding agreement that you’re getting into the college. Moreover, there is a stark difference between a likely letter and early writing. Many aren’t aware of this, but one guaranteed admission while the other did not.

Let’s reiterate. A likely letter is simply a letter of encouragement. So, don’t start buying hoodies and packing away your bag. However, an early letter indicates that you’ll be admitted for sure. Hence, an earlier letter guarantees you a spot unless, for some reason, the institute chooses to rescind the offer.

Now, how do you get a likely letter? There isn’t one specific path you should take, as this will vary from one person to another. However, there seems to be a pattern in those who do end up receiving one. Here are four pointers.

Distinguished Athletes

Many Ivy Leagues enroll top athletes because of the talent they can bring them. For example, if you’re a top athlete, well-known, and have a stellar record, then you’re on the top of the list for a likely letter. Moreover, if you’ve managed to balance your sports with your academic life, and excelled at both, then all Ivy Leagues will want to interview you.

However, remember that if you’re an athlete, you must emphasize your role and what you do. These colleges love those who play sports that earn college money. These include volleyball, basketball, football, and soccer.

Hence, have your coach contact the college and send them videos of yourself, certificates, awards, and anything that will make you stand out.

Passionate About Extracurriculars

This actually applies to all the different colleges. If you’re applying for a major with a background in it, it definitely increases your chances of getting accepted. For example, if you’re aiming to pursue business and have been in a business club or have been dwelling on it in your free time, it gives you an added bonus.

Hence, colleges everywhere want you to be original and creative. If they witness some of your passions having potential, they will definitely encourage it. This allows them to, later on, tell others that you’ve originated from their college. Indirect advertising at its best.

Accomplished Academic Record

This is possibly the most challenging method of getting a likely letter. Not only do you need a great GPA, but you must also excel in the SATs or the ACTs. After that, you’ll be indirectly asked to demonstrate your passion and knowledge.

So, the next step after achieving the perfect grades is writing the best personal letter, getting recommendations, sending proof of your rewards, and sending any certifications. All of this must be humble yet incredibly passionate.

Expressing Love and Genuine Interest

Make them notice you more than the average applicant. If you can visit the campus, we encourage you to go. Moreover, ask questions, reach out to people, and talk to seniors.

It’s pretty simple. You want the college to notice your existence and take you in, right? Well, you also should make them feel like they’re your number one choice. Showing interest and passion will bring you a long way.

What Happens If You Don’t Receive a Likely Letter?

What Happens If You Don’t Receive a Likely Letter?

Now, we’ve acknowledged how to get a likely letter. Well, what happens if you don’t receive one? Does that mean you should throw all hope out of the window and give up on these colleges? The short answer is no, of course not. Likely, letters might be sent to only a select few from the very top applicants.

Hence, even if you’re a stellar student but haven’t received a letter, it’s not an indication that you won’t be accepted. Take Harvard University, for example. According to Ivy Coach, 6.2% of the applicants in 2015 were accepted. Hence, it’s pretty noticeable that the number of people they have taken is much higher than the percentage of people who received a letter.

So don’t get your hopes down. Don’t start panicking. It’s not the end of the world, as it’s definitely not a binding agreement that one receiving it will get into the college.

Wrapping Things Up: Likely Letter: What Is It and How Do You Get One?

The bottom line is that a likely letter isn’t a guaranteed ticket into admission. It’s definitely not equivalent to an admission letter. Hence, use it as a method to get your hopes up, but not as a determining factor.

Moreover, if you don’t receive one, don’t start panicking. Your chances are still the same, as the likely letter is only sent out to a minimal number of applicants in the regular pool.

Professor Conquer
Professor Conquer

Professor Conquer started Conquer Your Exam in 2018 to help students feel more confident and better prepared for their tough tests. Prof excelled in high school, graduating top of his class and receiving admissions into several Ivy League and top 15 schools. He has helped many students through the years tutoring and mentoring K-12, consulting seniors through the college admissions process, and writing extensive how-to guides for school.

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