When looking at schools in The Ivy League (Brown University, Columbia University, Cornell University, Dartmouth College, Harvard University, University of Pennsylvania, Princeton University, and Yale University) the recruiting process is quite different than other Division I programs. The Ivy League does compete in Division I, but something that sets Ivys apart is the fact that they are not allowed to give athletic scholarships. But don’t stop reading here! Yes, the Ivy League cannot offer athletic scholarships, but this does not mean that they can’t provide financial aid. In fact, all of the Ivys have a blind admissions/financial aid process, which benefits the student athlete in question.
Having a blind admissions/financial aid process means that Ivy admission offices will not consider a students financial situation when the student is looked at to be admitted or not. If the admissions office decides to admit the student, the college will provide any financial aid to the student on the basis of need determined by each institution. This financial process is for ALL students, not just athletes. This benefits Ivy athletes because if an Ivy athlete decides not to play sports anymore, the student will still receive financial aid, whereas the scholarship is taken away at other DI schools if the athlete quits.
Because The Ivy League does not offer scholarships,that means that there is no National Letter of Intent in the realm of the Ivys. Instead, the Ivys have what is referred to as a “likely” letter. According the Ivy League Sports webpage this “likely” letter “has the effect of a formal letter of admission provided the candidate continues to have satisfactory secondary school experience. Coaches may initiate the requests for these letter, but only the office of admission can issue a 'likely' letter.” These “likely” letters can be issued before the school sends out acceptance letters, months before, but they DO NOT guarantee admission. If you are pursuing a “likely” letter, here are some recommended questions to ask the coach:
1) What do I need to do to get a “likely” letter?
2) How many “likely” letters do you have to give?
3) What is your usual acceptance rate of people who are issued “likely” letters?
If a coach says he/she can’t get you a likely letter, do not panic. Each coach submits a list to the admissions office of athletes the coach wishes to be a part of their program. Admission officers take each coaches’ list into serious consideration, but Ivy coaches do not have as much pull in the admission office as other DI schools. Applying early decision or early action to an Ivy League school is very beneficial for athletes because there is a smaller applicant pool. Also, if the athlete does not get in, they still have time to contact other schools.
Remember, if an Ivy League school is of any interest, make sure to invest as much time in your academics as you do your sport!