University News

‘Likely’ letters preempt admission cycle

By
Contributing Writer
Thursday, April 14, 2011

While most Brown applicants suffer through months of anxiety before finding out if they have been admitted, approximately 300 students each year — about one-fifth of an admitted class — learn of their pending acceptances in advance through “likely” letters, according to Jim Miller ’73, dean of admission.

Like many other schools, Brown sends letters informing prospective students they are “likely” candidates for admission before official acceptance decisions are released. “You can assume your likely status means you will be admitted to Brown if you maintain your current record of achievement,” one such letter informed an applicant in 2010.

About half of all likely letters mailed by the Office of Admission are for athletes.

Schools initially began sending likely letters in response to pressures to recruit student athletes earlier in their high school careers, said Michael Goldberger, director of athletics. The athletic recruiting schedule has never matched the regular admissions schedule and athletes are often asked to commit to schools before regular applications are due.

Likely letters for student athletes are typically sent out beginning Oct. 1 — the earliest allowed by Ivy League recruiting agreements.

Student athletes need to weigh scholarship and other admission options earlier than most students, and likely letters to athletes are “driven by external forces to Brown’s calendar,” Miller said.

A significant portion of incoming recruits — about 40 to 50 percent every year — receive these letters, Goldberger said. But the University also sends likely letters to promising applicants in order to show an early interest in students of high academic potential, Miller said. These letters normally are sent in February and March.

Recruited athletes Alexa Caldwell ’11, who plays women’s lacrosse, and football player Kyle Newhall-Caballero ’11 both received likely letters.

Caldwell received her letter in early October, a week and a half after mailing in her application. She said the letter allowed her to contact other schools that were recruiting her, freeing up spots for other student athletes.

“The recruiting process brought about a lot of uncertainty, so when I received a likely letter I felt a sense of relief,” Newhall-Caballero said.