Yale Likely Letter: What to Know

By Eric Eng

By Eric Eng

Aerial view of Yale University.

Yale Likely Letter: What to Know

When it comes to applying to elite colleges and universities in the United States, such as Yale, Harvard, Princeton, and other top-10 schools, one thing that students may receive prior to getting an official letter of acceptance is something that is known as a likely letter.

While it is really important for all students to know that receiving these likely letters is incredibly rare – and that not getting a Yale likely letter does not in any way mean that you will not ultimately be accepted into Yale – getting one of these letters can be a very memorable and exciting moment along the journey of applying to these top schools.

Students walking past the Yale entrance gate.

But what actually is a likely letter, and what does getting a likely letter from Yale actually mean? At AdmissionSight, we make it a top priority to offer the students that we work with all of the important information and facts regarding the application process at top schools.

We firmly believe that utilizing education as a tool can help push students over the edge when it comes to being considered by the top schools in the country. Of course, even the most intelligent and dedicated students are not always able to get into the most competitive schools, but knowing what these schools like, and understanding the application process in its entirety can absolutely help!

Our knowledge of how the application process works at schools like Yale is a big reason for the success that we enjoy with the students that we work with every application cycle! Every year, 75 percent of the students that we work with end up getting into Ivy League schools like Yale, Columbia, and Brown or other top-10 schools like Stanford, MIT, and Caltech.

When you remember the fact that a lot of these schools these days have acceptance rates that go well below 5.0 percent. The fact that we get 75 percent of the students that we work with into these schools is a major indicator of how much a trained and experienced admissions consultant can help any student that is applying to top schools.

So, if you are thinking about applying to schools like Yale, MIT, or Harvard and want to know more about what it means to get a Yale University likely letter, what to do in the event that you do receive one, and if there are any ways that an applying student can improve their chances of getting a likely letter, then you have come to the right place!

Let’s get started on breaking all that down and more together.

What are likely letters?

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

Essentially, highly selective universities and colleges, such as Yale will sometimes write what is known as “likely letters” (also sometimes known as “love letters”) to elite applicants who have applied to the school.

Young woman reading a letter in a table.

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!

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 of 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 Yale send likely letters?

Even though there are many prestigious schools that do send out likely letters, and even if you feel pretty confident in your knowledge of the schools in the Ivy League and what is different in the admissions process between the eight schools in the Ivies, it is still really important that you know specifically about the schools that you are applying to or plan on applying to.

Truthfully, one of the prime reasons why the students that work with AdmissionSight enjoy such a sizable statistical advantage over students who apply to the Ivies and other top schools and elect to go it alone is that our admissions consultants know the primary difference between how the admissions processes at these schools work.

Young man reading a letter while sitting.

Knowing how they work and knowing what they specifically look for in students’ applications can help students make sure that they are able to overcome the weaknesses within their applications and accentuate their strengths.

With all that being said, if a student is planning on applying to Yale, it may be useful to know that, yes, Yale-like letters are sent out to students. According to one recent report, it is believed that approximately 120 likely letters are sent out to students each application cycle. That is an incredibly small number of likely letters being sent out. When you consider the fact that just 2,234 students were offered a spot in the Yale graduating class out of a total application pool of 50,015 (good for an acceptance rate of just 4.46 percent), you start getting an idea of just how elite a student has to be to receive a Yale likely letter.

But what are the reasons behind likely letters and what do schools hope to accomplish by sending them out?

According to Dean of Undergraduate Admissions at Yale Jeffrey Brenzel, the reasons for the school to send out these letters to students that have applied to the school are multi-faceted.

“As the admissions officers are reading this enormous stack of applications, they from time to time come across a student — and it could be a student from any background or with any kind of interest or talent — but who, relative to other students from that background or interest or talent, stands out even within a very strong pool as being quite extraordinary,” Brenzel said.

Brenzel added that the more fundamental reason why Yale sends out likely letter to prospective students is that for students that apply to Yale via regular decision, they tend to have just about to month to make their final decision about where they want to attend college between receiving an official letter of acceptance in April and National College Decision Day on May 2nd.  Likely letters are often sent to regular decision applicants who have been deemed a great fit by Yale’s admissions committee so that these students can have extra time to make their decision and then – if it works out for the school – make preparations to accept their spot at Yale and prepare for their enrollment in the coming fall.

What does a likely letter from Yale typically say?

If you are hoping to one day get a likely letter from Yale, 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. Based on what we know of likely letters that are sent out to Yale applicants, this is what you can expect a likely letter from Yale to look like in the event that you are lucky enough to receive one.

Female student reading a likely letter.

“We are pleased to learn that the Admissions Office has given your application a “Likely” rating. Because of your high ranking in our applicant pool, we would like to provide you with the following early notification of the estimated financial aid you would receive if you were to attend Yale.”

The letter then breaks down what kind of financial aid the student can expect to receive in the event that they choose to attend Yale.

“Your award is based, in part, on reported enrollment, costs, and aid of siblings in college. If there are any chances to get the college status of any family members, you must inform us and your award may change as a result.

“Please remember that this is not a letter of admission and that the amounts listed above are estimates.

“If you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact an Undergraduate Financial Aid counselor at 203 432 27000 or at [email protected].”

As you can see, the letter is quite straightforward while also being congratulatory and jovial in tone. Of course, the school wants students to feel quite excited about receiving a likely letter and being told that they are likely to be accepted at Yale, but it is good to know that useful information for students can also be included in the letter. The reason for this is, as previously mentioned, that the school wants to help students kickstart their planning of getting ready to accept their spot at Yale and attend the school.

Does a likely letter from Yale guarantee admission?

For any student who does receive a Yale likely letter, it is really important for them to know that getting a likely letter does not guarantee a spot at the school. With that in mind, there are a few simple ways for any student who does receive a likely letter to make sure that their likely letter eventually does turn into an official letter of acceptance.

Two people reading a likely letter in a table.

If you do end up receiving a likely letter, you simply have to continue doing what you have done up till this point – both inside and outside of school – 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 Yale 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. With that being said, even official letters of acceptance can be rescinded if a student’s grades drop too low or if the student deals with issues that lead to a suspension from school or an arrest.

How to get a likely letter from Yale?

When it comes to getting a likely letter from Yale specifically, students have to find some way to separate themselves from the tens of thousands of students that apply in the same year. They have to make it clear that they truly are among the best of the best not only in their school, state, or even country. They have to find a way to become one of the most elite students in their high school graduating class across the entire world!

“As the admissions officers are reading this enormous stack of applications, they from time to time come across a student — and it could be a student from any background or with any kind of interest or talent — but who, relative to other students from that background or interest or talent, stands out even within a very strong pool as being quite extraordinary,” Brenzel said.

A student who receives a likely letter from Yale could be attractive for a number of reasons, however. Brenzel went on to say that students can put themselves in the running for a likely letter by achieving extraordinary things inside or outside of the classroom during their high school years, or they could get one for having overcome some unusual and difficult situations or disadvantages. With that in mind, all students who ultimately get a likely letter from Yale are likely to meet three important criteria:

  • They must be such strong candidates that they have almost certainly applied to other similarly competitive schools compared to Yale 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, Yale 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.

“We have to answer those three questions and ask, ‘Are we certain we’re going to admit this student?’” Brenzel said. “If we are, we want this student to have ample opportunity to see everything they can see about Yale because we know they will be offered this opportunity elsewhere as well.”

These kinds of exemplary files are read (as are all applications) by two members of the Yale admissions office. If these two readers agree to nominate the applying student to be a recipient of a likely letter, the application proceeds not to the admission committee, but instead to Brenzel himself.

Brenzel admitted that he will sometimes as a member of the greater Yale community who has a similar academic background and expertise to the applicant to also evaluate the application. However, he did make it clear that in the end, he is the one to make the final decision regarding who does and who does not receive a likely letter.

When do Yale likely letters come out?

While Yale will usually accept just about 2,200 students per application cycle, a rather small fraction of that number ends up actually getting a likely letter. Yale has been known to send out just about 120 likely letters per year at most. But when do those letters come out?

Per Ivy League regulations, colleges are able to send out likely letters between October 1st and March 15th. Of course, the timing of a likely letter being sent is going to depend entirely on whether a student applies to Yale via early admissions or regular admissions. And when students do get likely letters, they can feel confident that an official acceptance letter is going to follow close behind.

Remember, it may be more likely to receive a likely letter from Yale if you do decide to apply via regular decision, however, early action applicants at Yale do tend to enjoy more favorable acceptance rates compared to students who apply via regular decision.

Get a Yale likely letter

There is no way to truly guarantee to get a likely letter from a school as selective as Yale. 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 Yale 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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