University of Chicago Likely Letter: What to Know

August 19, 2022
By AdmissionSight

University of Chicago Likely Letter: What to Know

For students who are interested in attending one of the top schools in the United States, but are not so interested in going to one of the eight Ivy League schools, University of Chicago is without a doubt one of the top options.

In fact, the University of Chicago is one of the few schools that is not in the Ivy League but holds a similar level of prestige. The other schools on this short list include Stanford, Caltech and MIT.

For that reason, it should not be all that shocking that these schools practice many of the same admissions practices upheld by the Ivy League. One such practice is sending out likely letters to top applicants that the school’s admissions committee feels the school has to have.

But what is a University of Chicago likely letter and what does it mean if you are an applicant that ends up getting a likely letter from University of Chicago?

Female student reading a likely letter.

At AdmissionSight, our top priority every application cycle is to give the high school students from all over the world that we work with the tools, information and strategies that they need to overcome the intense (and truly historic) level of competitiveness and prestige that exists at these Ivy League schools and other top 10 schools in the country.

We firmly believe that students can vastly improve their chances of getting into these top schools if they take the time to learn more about the schools’ specific admissions practices and what kinds of students they are looking for from one application cycle to the next. While many schools have very similar practices and goals when it comes to admissions, schools also tend to have components of their admissions practices that make them unique.

When it comes to likely letters, they are typically only factor in at the most prestigious schools in the country. While knowing about them is not a crucial aspect of applying to UChicago, it certainly gives students a more in-depth understanding of what they may be able to expect after they send in their application to the school.

When it comes to how well our methods work, we have loads of proof to back up the belief that what we do changes the trajectory of many of the students that we work with. From one application cycle to the next, 75.0 percent of the students that we work with end up getting into an Ivy League school like Harvard, Princeton, or Yale or a top 10 school that is not in the Ivies like UChicago, MIT, or Stanford. Considering the fact that all of these schools (and all of the other top schools in the United States) have overall acceptance rates in the low single digits, getting 75.0 percent of our students into one of these schools gives us a massive sense of pride and confidence that we are giving our students the best chance at success.

So, if you are interested in learning about what it means to get a University of Chicago likely letter, what to do once you have received one and how to improve your chances of getting one after you send in your application, then all you have to do is keep reading! We’ve got you covered.

Let’s get started on breaking it down.

What are likely letters?

Before we go into regarding University of Chicago likely letters specifically, we want to quickly break down what a likely letter is.

Essentially, highly selective universities and colleges, such as UChicago will sometimes write what are known as “likely letters” (also sometimes known as “love letters”) to elite applicants who have applied to the school. These letters are especially popular for students who are being considered to receive merit-based or athletic financial aid such as a scholarship or a full ride.

Young woman opening a letter on a table.

Essentially, these letters are used to give these top-tier applicants a “heads up” or sorts that they will likely be admitted to the school before the official decision notifications go out in March and April. The letters are not only used to flatter the applicant but they are also used to start planning for their enrollment at the school!

So, the name really says it all when it comes to likely letters. These letters – which tend to be sent to students directly from the Dean of Undergraduate Admissions – serve as an unofficial (but pretty close to official) heads-up that an offer of admissions is going to come in the mail sooner rather than later. It’s a major moment for students who are amongst the few to receive one!

Does the University of Chicago send likely letters?

If you are planning on applying to UChicago, or if you have already sent in your application and are waiting for her back, then you might be wondering if you could soon be getting a likely letter from the University of Chicago. After all, likely letters absolutely serve as a really good indication that you will soon be getting into UChicago officially.

For whatever reason, if you’re simply wondering if the University of Chicago sends likely letters then you will be pleased to learn that that answer is absolutely yet.

UChicago is known as one of the few schools in the United States to send out likely letters. If you are curious about what other schools in the country are known to send out these types of letters, take a look at this list below. Keep in mind, that this includes many but not all of the schools that are known to send out likely letters.

  •  Amherst College
  • Barnard College
  • Brandeis University
  • Brown University
  • Bowdoin College
  • Clark University
  • Columbia University
  • Cornell University
  • Dartmouth College
  • Duke University
  • Grinnell College
  • Harvard University
  • Princeton University
  • Rice University
  • Smith College
  • Stanford University
  • UCLA
  • University of Chicago
  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  • University of Pennsylvania
  • University of Virginia
  • William & Mary
  • Williams College
  • Yale University

With that in mind, when it comes to UChicago and the other top schools on this list, it is believed that in any given application cycle, far less than 1.0 percent of the entire pool of students that apply to the school will end up getting a likely letter. When it comes to getting into UChicago at and receiving an official letter of acceptance, the acceptance rate at UChicago is incredibly low.

During the most recent application cycle, the 2021-22 cycle, the acceptance rate ended up coming in at approximately 5.0 percent, one of the lowest acceptance rates in the history of the school. In fact, the acceptance rate from the 2021-22 application cycle marked a reduction of 1.2 percent compared to the previous application cycle.

That’s a fairly sizable dip from one year to the next. It is also interesting to note that while many of the top schools saw a slight increase in acceptance rate from the class of 2025 to the class of 2026, UChicago saw a decrease. Though we do not have the official number of applications the school received just yet, it is quite likely that UChicago received somewhere between 36,000 and 39,000 total applications.

Out of those applicants, remember that the number of students who end up receiving a likely letter from the school is likely going to be closer to 100 to 200 students total!

So, to get in, you are truly going to have to be amongst the best of the best. It’s a hard journey but we’ve seen many students accomplish it and we are sure that you can too if you put your mind to it! To get a likely letter is quite a bit harder. So, while it may be a fun part of the process for some students, there is not really a reason to begin your college application journey with the goal of getting a likely letter from anywhere. After all, it serves no greater purpose than offering a heads-up that your letter of acceptance is coming. It’s no more or less than that.

What does a University of Chicago likely letter say?

The truth is that what likely letters actually say are going to depend heavily on what school you actually get it from. Overall, however, likely letters are known to be quite celebratory (for good reason), and sometimes offer important information regarding what comes next in terms of important dates, financial aid information, and more.

Male student reading a likely letter on a library.

Here is an excerpt from a likely letter that a student received from UChicago a couple of application cycles ago.

“Congratulations!

“While official decisions are several weeks away, we couldn’t wait to share the good news. The admissions committee has reviewed your application, and I am pleased to extend to you a provisional invitation to join the University of Chicago. As long as you continue your strong performance and there is not a negative change in your record, you can expect to receive an official offer of admission in late March. From a group of highly talented and diverse applicants, you have distinguished yourself as a top scholar and are one of only a handful of students to receive this early offer.”

Included in the letter is an option for the student to reply so that they could “secure your place” in the incoming class.

That’s an important thing to keep in mind because it plays a rather large role in why schools tend to send likely letters in the first place, but we’ll get into that in a little bit.

Does a University of Chicago likely letter guarantee admission?

Now that you have a better idea of what a likely letter from University of Chicago would actually say if you received one, you may be curious about whether or not a likely  letter coming from this school – or any other top school – really does guarantee admission. Well, we’re here to clear that up for you.

Male student holding her bag in front of the entrance of a building.

Basically, likely letters can absolutely be considered a guarantee of admission as long as you do a few important things after you receive your likely letter. Those include:

  1. Maintain your fantastic grade point average through the final months of your high school education
  2. Stay out of trouble at school
  3. Stay out of trouble with local law enforcement

The reason why these three are the most important factors to keep in mind is because students who start to display a major dip in their GPA, get in trouble at school or get in trouble with the law can get any offer of admission, even an official one, taken back from a top school.

So, in the event that you get a likely letter from University of Chicago, don’t take it as a sign that you can start to slack off at school, cause trouble in the classroom, or start to party or spend your time irresponsibly. Truthfully, once getting a likely letter, any student should simply continue doing exactly what they have been doing up till this point that helped them earn a spot in the next class at such a prestigious institution.

If you can follow that advice and keep succeeding in and out of the classroom, your likely letter will be replaced by an official offer of admission at UChicago in the near future!

How to get a likely letter from University of Chicago?

While there is no clear criteria for students to get a likely letter from the vast majority of schools, there is some basic information that we know about what factors into students getting likely letters.

First off, here are three key factors to keep in mind:

  • Students who receive likely letters have almost certainly applied to similarly competitive schools like Harvard, MIT Stanford
  • It must also be virtually certain that the other highly competitive schools that the student has applied to will be accepted by those school
  • Finally, the admissions officers at the school should be virtually certain that the student in question will be among the accepted students even without seeing the rest of the applicant pool from that year

On top of that, there are few other circumstantial components that can really help a student earn a likely letter from UChicago.

The first one is when a student is a student-athlete. While UChicago and other top schools do not value athletics in the same way that the major public and state universities tend to, there is still an emphasis on bringing students who have also accomplished athletes to the school. After all, UChicago is home to a number of different sports teams representing the team, including:

  • Baseball
  • Basketball
  • Cross Country
  • Football
  • Lacrosse
  • Softball
  • Soccer
  • Swimming & Diving
  • Tennis
  • Track and Field
  • Volleyball
  • Wrestling

As a Division III school, UChicago does not offer academic scholarships, but that does not mean that it does not factor in a student’s academic accomplishments when looking at their application. For that reason, if you are an accomplished athlete and could see yourself continuing your career as a student-athlete at UChicago, make sure to mention in your application your accomplishments on the field, in the pool, etc.

You could benefit from extra time to prepare

This is probably the most common reason why students receive likely letters. Whether you applied to UChicago via regular admissions, or if you are coming from a remote community, or are a student who will be the first member of your family to attend college or university, the admissions office at UChicago may want to offer you additional time to prepare for beginning your education at UChicago.

If the school’s admissions committee sees you as an elite prospect and wants to help you by giving you additional time to plan your move, apply for financial aid, or anything in between, they may send you that likely letter to offer a helping hand.

When do UChicago likely letters come out?

The exact time in which likely letters are sent out to students that apply to the University of Chicago is not actually known, but it is believed that likely letters tend to start getting sent out by the middle of the month of February and will continue through early March. After that point, it makes more sense for the school to simply wait to send out official letters offering admissions to the rest of the students who are set to be accepted by the school.

A woman opening a letter in a table.

Get a UChicago likely letter

In the end, the best way for students to make sure that they are in line to get a University of Chicago likely letter or a UChicago acceptance letter is to do everything that they can to make sure that they rank amongst the elite students within their application pool. This is really hard to achieve, and it is sometimes even hard to figure out what to target to be within that tiny group. If you are curious about what you can do to improve your chances of getting a UChicago likely letter, contact us at AdmissionSight today to schedule a free consultation.

 

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