UPenn Likely Letter: What to Know

By Eric Eng

By Eric Eng

Young student reading a letter in a table.

UPenn Likely Letter: What to Know

If you are just getting started on your information gathering phase of learning about applying to top schools in the United States, then chances are good that you have not even heard of the term “likely letter” before.

Likely letters are a custom utilized at many of the most prestigious colleges and universities in the United States in which a school can alert an applying student of the fact that they will be offered admissions to the school prior to the official acceptance date at the school.

If you plan on applying to the University of Pennsylvania, one of the eight schools in the Ivy League, then there is absolutely a chance that you will be among the very few – and very elite – students that end up getting a UPenn likely letter.

But what actually is a likely letter, what does one say, and do they really guarantee that you will be getting into UPenn if you do end up getting a likely letter from UPenn? At AdmissionSight, we make it our top priority to make sure that the high school and transfer students that we work with every application cycle know all the information and have access to all the tools that they need in order to improve their chances of getting into their dream schools.

We firmly believe that when it comes to overcoming the incredibly low acceptance rates at Ivy League schools and other top 10 institutions, knowledge is power. That is why we spend so much of our time and energy writing posts like this so that students who are interested in one day applying to these prestigious schools can enter the application journey with a deep and diverse foundation of information.

And we don’t just think that our methods, the tools that we utilize and strategies that we implement work, we know that they do. Consider the fact that since we started working with students, our success rate when it comes to helping them get into either an Ivy League school like UPenn, Harvard or Yale or a top 10 school that is not in the Ivy League like MIT, Stanford or UChicago is 75.0 percent! That is especially enlightening considering the fact that the vast majority of these schools have acceptance rates that are either just above 5.0 percent overall or well below 5.0 percent!

So, if you are thinking about applying to schools like UPenn, Yale or Stanford and want to know more about what it means to get a University of Pennsylvania likely letter, what to do if you do end up being among the very few students that receive a UPenn likely letter, or if there are any ways in which a student can actually improve their chances of getting such a letter, then you have absolutely come to the right place!

Let’s break all the information down and more.

What are likely letters?

Before we go into UPenn likely letters specifically, we want to quickly break down what a likely letter is.

Essentially, highly selective universities and colleges, such as UPenn 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. 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!

Young man reading a letter at a table in a restaurant.

At all Ivy League institutions, the basic messaging regarding likely letters is the same. Students who get them can consider it as good as an official letter of acceptance with a couple very important caveats. Those are as follows:

“Likely letters will have the effect of letters of admission, in that as long as the applicant sustains the academic and personal record reflected in the completed application, the institution will send a formal admission offer on the appropriate notification date,” a joint statement on Ivy League admissions stated.

Does UPenn send likely letters?

Just like the seven other Ivy League schools, UPenn absolutely does send likely letters. UPenn claims on their official site that about 250 students end up getting likely letters each year. They also make it clear that likely letters are reserved for students that apply to the school via Regular Decision rather than early admissions.

Take a look what else the school has to say, below:

“A Likely letter is an early notification for talented students who have applied to Penn in the Regular Decision cycle. This year, around 250 students will be offered a Likely letter on March 7th, which means that they will be notified that if they continue their current level of academic and scholastic achievement and good-standing, they will be officially admitted to Penn … These students may be from a particular geographical region, or a specific school or program, but they are all exceptional applicants—Likely letters are Penn’s way of letting these applicants know how special we think they are, and how much we would like them to join our campus community.”

On top of that, the school also contacts those students with what they call a “likely call.” Here is what the school has to say about this practice:

“Students receiving a Likely letter are highly accomplished individuals, and Penn recognizes that they may have a number of college options to choose from in April. Offering these outstanding students a Likely letter (followed by a phone call from an enthusiastic alumnus) is a great way to encourage them to consider Penn among their options, and to encourage them to learn more about the university in the weeks before decision release.”

So now that you know that 250 students can expect to get a likely letter each year, you might be interested in thinking about what percentage of the accepted students end up getting one of these UPenn likely letters.

To break that down further, let’s take a look at the admissions statistics for this most recent application cycle (the 2021-22 application cycle).

In the most recent cycle, approximately 55,000 students applied to the school either through early or regular admissions. Of those students, it is believed that around 2420 students got in with an overall acceptance rate at the school of 4.4 percent. While the 250 students who got likely letters represent just over 10.0 percent of the accepted students, it also represents a minuscule .0045 percent of the total pool of students that applied!

From this quick breakdown alone, you should already have a strong idea of just how rare it is for students to get likely letters.

What does a likely letter from UPenn typically say?

If you are hoping to one day get a likely letter from UPenn, you may be curious about what these kinds of letters typically say. Overall, likely letters are known to be somewhat flattering so entice the student to remain invested in potentially attending that school one day. If you are curious as to what a typical likely letter from UPenn might actually say, then you are in luck. The school actually offers an example for students to take a look at.

If you end up receiving a letter that looks a lot like this after you apply, then it’s time to crack out the streamers and celebrate!




City, State, Zip

March 7, 2023


We are delighted to inform you that you have been selected as a Likely Admitted Student to the

[PENN UNDERGRADUATE SCHOOL] at the University of Pennsylvania. This means that with your continued academic success and good-standing in secondary school, we intend to officially admit you to the Class of 2027 on March 28, 2023.

The University of Pennsylvania considers you to be among the world’s most accomplished students. You should be very proud of this achievement, and of your application: it presents an impressive story about who you are and what you are capable of.

My own days as a Penn student were filled with experiences that challenged me intellectually, shaped me socially, and helped to refine my ambitions. I am certain that this community, with its diverse student body, pioneering faculty, and committed staff, will push you to harness your talents and enable you to become the sort of leader the world needs.

Ben Franklin, the University’s founder, once said, “All mankind is divided into three classes: those that are immovable, those that are movable, and those that move.” At Penn, we want students who understand how their knowledge and efforts can move others for the better—students eager to see the immediate impact of their studies through interdisciplinary learning and meaningful service.

I believe that you should be part of this great University’s future.

Hurrah for the Red and the Blue!

Whitney Soule

Dean of Admissions

University of Pennsylvania


As you can see the letter is quite straightforward while also being clearly celebratory in nature. The letter also makes it clear that an official letter of acceptance is likely as long as the student maintains their record of academic success and good standing.

That is an important thing to keep in mind, and we will go into what it means now!

Does a likely letter from UPenn guarantee admission?

If you end up getting a likely letter, it is really important for you to know what that actually means in terms of your actual status at the school. Of course, a likely letter is not an official letter of acceptance, but it can be considered just as good with some key caveats. There are a few simple things that students must avoid in order to make sure that their likely letter eventually turns into an official acceptance letter.

A woman opening a letter in a table.

After you get your UPenn likely letter, you simply have to continue doing what you have done up till this point – both inside and outside of the classroom – and you will be well on your way to receiving an official letter of acceptance in the very near future.

Of course, the primary things that any student who receives a likely letter should avoid in order to make sure they get another positive letter from UPenn soon is keep your grades up, don’t get suspended, and – of course – don’t have any run-ins with the law or an arrest. Any of these taking place will certainly be a red flag to the UPenn admissions office and could end up changing the outcome of your status at the school.

With that being said, the same could be said for students who do get official offers of admissions and end up dealing with the same issues. All in all, if you end up getting a likely letter from UPenn or from any top school, make sure to keep up your grades as well as your out-of-school excellence and you will be in the clear!

How to get a likely letter from UPenn?

When it comes to trying to guarantee that you will end up being one of the very few students that gets a University of Pennsylvania likely letter, it is important that there is no way to truly ensure that it happens. On top of that, not getting a likely letter isn’t that big of a deal, and it doesn’t do much to reflect whether or not you will ultimately be accepted or rejected by the school.

Young woman opening a letter on a table.

Remember, only 10 percent of the students who are accepted first get letters! With that in mind, there does tend to be a bit of a blueprint that Ivy League schools follow when it comes to what kinds of students they send likely letters to.

Those important criteria are as follows:

  • They must be such strong candidates that they have almost certainly applied to other similarly competitive schools compared to UPenn such as Harvard, Princeton, Stanford, etc.
  • It must be virtually certain that one or all of the other most competitive schools that they applied to will accept them
  • Finally, UPenn admissions officers must be virtually certain that they will offer a spot of admission to the school even without seeing the entire pool of applicants from that year.

Finally, as the message directly from the school indicated, a “ Likely letter is an early notification for talented students who have applied to Penn in the Regular Decision cycle.” That is really important for any student to keep in mind, and is a good reminder that likely letters, while really exciting to get, should not be considered the end all, be all of your application journey. Likely letters, more than anything, are tools utilized by the school to try to attract students that the UPenn admissions office is highly interested in.

They are sent to students who applied Regular Decision to UPenn, which likely means that they applied via early admissions to a different Ivy League or top school. By sending a likely letter to that kind of student, UPenn may earn the interest of that student and convince them to enroll as long as the school they applied to early does not have binding rules. On top of that, sending a likely letter to a student gives them much-needed time to prepare.

If they planned on attending a different school all along, those several weeks of heads up prior to official letters being sent out could make their life a whole lot easier!

When do UPenn likely letters come out?

While UPenn will usually accept just about 2,400 students per application cycle, a rather small fraction of that number ends up actually getting a likely letter. UPenn has been known to send out just about 240-400 likely letters per year at most. But when do those letters come out?

Female student walking near a walkway.

Per Ivy League regulations, colleges are able to send out likely letters between October 1st and March 15th. As the message implies above, March 7th may be the date that students receive their likely letters at Penn, however it’s good to know that range as well!

Get a UPenn likely letter

There is no way to truly guarantee getting a likely letter from a school as selective as UPenn. However, there are some things that students can do, as you now know, to improve their chances, even if it is by a very small margin.

If you are interested in learning more about the UPenn application process and what goes into getting a likely letter from this school, contact us at AdmissionSight today to schedule a free consultation.

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