What are your chances of acceptance?

Your chance of acceptance
Duke University
Duke University
Your chancing factors
Unweighted GPA: 3.7
SAT: 720 math
| 800 verbal


Low accuracy (4 of 18 factors)

Likely Letters: Which Colleges Send Them and What to Expect

This article was written based on the information and opinions presented by Shravya Kakulamarri in a CollegeVine livestream. You can watch the full livestream for more info. 


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What Is a Likely Letter?


A likely letter is a letter received by mail from a college. It demonstrates that the college is aware of your success and is interested in receiving an application from you. There isn’t a comprehensive list of the schools that send likely letters, but there is a record of some schools sending these letters in the past. If you are interested in seeing what a likely letter looks like, there are plenty of examples on community forums. A quick Google search will show you exactly what you are looking for. 


You might hear some of your peers mentioning receiving a likely letter from a school that you want to attend. If you don’t receive one of these letters, it doesn’t mean you won’t be accepted, so don’t let that deter you from applying to your dream school.


Who Sends Likely Letters?


All Ivy League schools are known for using likely letters and are the most common colleges to get likely letters from. Schools especially send these letters to student-athletes with strong academics. These students often have a unique combination of athletics and academic skills that make them particularly impressive. Many different schools are often interested in them, so likely letters are a way to entice student-athletes who are probably receiving multiple scholarship offers. 


You don’t have to be a student-athlete to receive a likely letter, though. Students who are exceptional in other ways are also potential recipients. Schools other than the Ivy League colleges also send likely letters. MIT, Rice, UCLA, the University of Chicago, and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill have all been known to send them, as well as highly rated liberal arts schools like Amherst College, Hobart and William Smith Colleges, and Grinnell College. 


Event Invitations in a Likely Letter


Many likely letters come with an invitation to visit the campus, which is a special opportunity. For example, Vanderbilt University sends around 200 invitations in February to students from various minority backgrounds. This letter invites students to the Vanderbilt campus for an event called MOSAIC (Medley of Students and Ideas Connecting). This event happens on a weekend in March and is meant to bring talented multicultural students together. Vanderbilt supports this weekend to maintain an ethnically and culturally diverse campus. 


Likely Letter Template


The particular wording of a likely letter will vary from school to school, but in general, they all follow a similar template. They highlight the student’s highly probable acceptance and the institution’s enthusiasm to have them as a part of its student body. The letter will be written in a flattering tone and will foreshadow the arrival of a formal acceptance letter in the future.


A likely letter probably won’t have the words “likely letter printed on the outside envelope, so the content inside is what will give it away. For example, a phrase commonly used in a Stanford University likely letter is, “We were inspired and humbled by your energy, imagination, talent, and heart.” This early approval is a tribute to your extraordinary achievements and is a strong giveaway that you’ve just received a likely letter.