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Friday, March 05, 2010

Likely Letters 2010

Likely Letters are now in the mail. We are only sending them once this year. This post aims to answer the common questions we get about these letters.

What is a Likely Letter?
Around this time of year, many colleges and universities send letters to some very strong students telling them that their applications are impressive. These letters are commonly referred to as likely letters, but you might also seen them called love letters or early writes.

Why do you send Likely Letters?
In this day and age, it's hard to feel confident about admission. These letters let some of our strongest candidates know we were impressed by their applications. These letters are not specific to UVa. Selective schools around the country send them. Doing a search for "Likely Letter" or "Love Letter" on College Confidential will yield signs of them being sent by plenty of other schools.

How many Likely Letters do you send?
We don't have a target number, but it's safe to say that the number is comparatively small each year. I don't have year by year statistics, but I'd say the percentage that gets these letters is in the single digits. So, ninety-something percent of you won't see these letters.

If so few applicants get them, why are you writing about them here?
As you have probably seen from comments posted in the last few weeks, people are already asking questions about these letters. When the letters land in mailboxes, the talk will increase. I'd rather let you know the facts that leave you in the dark. I hope that makes you all worry less than you would if I didn't talk about these at all.

Will I see the Likely Letter on my SIS page?
Likely Letters aren't decisions. They won't show up on the SIS.

Does this mean I'm getting into Echols/Rodman/College Science Scholars?
There are students in the scholars programs who never got a Likely Letter and there are students who got Likely Letters who aren't in any scholars program. For more information about these programs, see the Echols, Rodman, and College Science Scholars websites.

I got one! What does the Likely Letter mean? Am I admitted?
Congratulations! The letter means exactly what it says, no more and no less. In a nutshell: we like you! Keep in mind that this is not an offer of admission. Obviously, we aim to only send these to candidates we think are among the strongest in the pool, but there have been times when mid-year grades or some other new piece of information has changed a decision.

We are still a few weeks away from having decisions finalized.

When will I get my Likely Letter?
You shouldn't assume you are getting one. While I think I can help with the management of expectations, you have a hand in that, too. If you expect a Likely Letter, you are increasing the chances of being disappointed. Try to look at the big picture. Most students don't get them.

For what it's worth, I don't control the US Postal Service, so I can't predict when anyone will get a letter. What's more, we use a regular stamp on these, so if you are far away, I imagine it could take a while.

The Reader's Digest version:
  • Likely Letters are sent via standard mail
  • There is only one batch of Likely Letters this year
  • The vast majority of applicants will not get a Likely Letter
  • Likely Letters are not offers of admission
  • Decisions are not finalized yet
  • Getting a Likely Letter does not equate to an offer into one of the scholars programs
Do not read into the absence of a letter.

Please don't call our office to ask about a Likely Letter. The front desk does not have a list of who got them. Similarly, there is no need to reply to a Likely Letter. See it as a pat on the back.

If you have a question, look at the replies I made to questions about these in the past. If you still have a question after that, post it below. Please use this post for questions about Likely Letters only. If you have a question about something else, comment on the next post.