What A Likely Letter Means

Likely Letter, Likely Letters, Admissions Likely Letters

Congratulations to our students at Ivy Coach who’ve already received Likely Letters this Regular Decision admissions cycle (photo credit: Chensiyuan).

What does a Likely Letter mean, you ask?

Some of our students have begun receiving what is known in college admissions parlance as Likely Letters. A Likely Letter usually starts with a big congratulations. And why? Because what the college admissions office is articulating to the applicant is that, based on their review of the applicant’s impressive file, they will likely be offered admission. So to all students who’ve already received Likely Letters from highly selective colleges or who will receive Likely Letters in the coming days and weeks, congratulations indeed.

When parents and students read these Likely Letters, the most common question they ask us is: “Does this mean I’m probably going to get in?” As our students and parents know that we’re all about under-promising and over-delivering at Ivy Coach, they’re quite often surprised to hear us reply, “No. It means you’re getting in. In fact, it means you were among the strongest applicants to that school this Regular Decision cycle.” Yes indeed — what a Likely Letters means is…you’re in.

Think about it. Why would a college write you a letter expressing how it’s likely you’ll get in? Here’s your answer: Because unlike in the Early round in which you either made a binding Early Decision commitment to one school or chose one above all others to apply Early Action to, the Regular Decision round pits colleges against one another. They’re competing to land you as a student on their campus. They’re competing to increase their yield, to secure the best possible class among the students who applied to the university. They don’t want you going anywhere else. They want you!

Letting you know weeks ahead of time that you’re going to be getting in is a really nice gesture that takes the pressure off. They want you to wrap your head around going to this university. They’re counting on the primacy effect of social psychology — there is indeed a psychological advantage to letting you know first since you’ll start imagining yourself at this school well before you hear from other universities. You’ll start picturing yourself making friends there, studying in the libraries, dining in the dining halls. You get the idea.

Have a question about Likely Letters? Let us know your question by posting it below! And congratulations to all students who have started receiving Likely Letters! Know that you were among the strongest applicants to the university that conveyed to you it’s likely you’ll get in. And by likely, yes, they mean you’re in. Unless of course your grades drop significantly, you misbehave, etc. So stay out of trouble and keep those grades up!


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  • Em says:

    Hi have you heard of international students receiving likely letters?

  • Arya says:

    What Ivy League colleges send likely letters?

  • Bob Lalevee says:

    Can you list the schools that you know send out “likely letters”? Ivy League only, or Nescac schools and Patriot League also?

  • JD says:

    Do any of the NESCAC schools still issue likely letters or early writes?

  • Selene says:

    Which Ivy League colleges send out academic likely letters?

  • Jason says:

    I received a likely letter from my first-choice early decision school. Is there any need to apply elsewhere? Certain deadlines for other schools are prior to the official release date for my first-choice school.

  • Troy says:

    My son was asked to apply early action by the football program of one of the Ivy schools. If they asked him to apply early action, does that mean that they will also be submitting his name to the admission office as a player they are interested in, or want to support? In other words, it this a good thing, or just another teaser.

  • Tina says:

    Hi. My son is a student athlete (football) and has committed to an Ivy League. He has submitted his application for admission and has been in touch with his Head football coach. We were told he would be getting a likely letter.
    How long should it take to get the likely letter??

  • Rach says:

    Are the LL sent in waves for non athletes? Doest it typically start from East Coast to West Coast?

  • Madelin Zwerling says:

    Do all college athletes receive likely letters?

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