Many people agree that writing a college essay is one of the mostdifficult and stressful parts of their application process fordifferent reasons. For example, it’s difficult to understand whatcolleges want you to say and it’s hard to accurately representyourself in a limited number of words. How long should a collegeessay be? Finding the right answer to this question is a commonchallenge of many students. The good news is that applicationsusually provide you with helpful guidelines for maximum andminimum lengths.
Common application requirements
The common application is a standard form used by many moderncolleges and universities. It has the essay word count limit,which is only 650 words. Writing a college essay within this wordlimit means including at least 3 paragraphs. You can find manyeffective word-processing programs with a special word countfeature that will help you track the length of your collegeessay. For instance, use any academic paper written for yourclasses to see how many words it contains and get a better ideaof the page length that your college essay must have.
Standards of other universities and colleges
Nowadays, not all educational institutions stick to the commonapplication, and this means that their college essay requirementsmay vary.
- Some colleges have no strict essay requirements at all;
- They may have optional essay components;
- Others have their specific essay questions that should beanswered by applicants within the above-mentioned word limit;
- They have specific essay components without any requiredmaximum or minimum length, so they leave it up to appliances tochoose the right word count.
Many colleges that don’t stick to common application guidelinesalso have defined length limits for a college essay. That’s whyyou need to check the application requirements of each collegecarefully and thoroughly to avoid being confused or feelingstuck.
Effective strategies to hit the required essay length
To hit the required length for your college essay, start withcreating a special outline and make it as organized and detailedas possible. Although they may be no minimum word count, you willneed to write a substantial and coherent paper, so use thefollowing efficient strategies:
- Including 4 paragraphs is your safe bet;
- Outlining allows you to know what you will say while makingit easier to keep a college essay moving from one point toanother;
- Don’t panic if you go a bit over the required word countbecause you can reduce your essay length easily.
Basic questions and answers about a college essay length
How long should a college essay be? To understand how to answerthis sticky question, there are some other questions that shouldbe asked. Why this essay length? Although many students find ithard to write a long academic paper, their most common issue witha college essay is keeping it quite short. Writing 650 words maysound a complex task, but this word count hardly provides youwith enough space to express the most important personalcharacteristics and express the deepest thoughts. The number onereasons why your college essay is kept short is that educationalinstitutions receive thousands applications on an annual basis.It’s difficult to imagine admissions officers reading longeressays and having enough time to do anything else.
Is it allowed to go over this length limit?
To answer this question, ask instructors a few others, such as:
- Can you go over the required word count?
- If yes, by how much?
- What if you need more words to convey all of your importantideas?
- What if your college essay is only several words over thislimit?
After all, 650 words don’t offer applicants a lot of room toconvey their interests, personalities, and writing abilities.Modern educational institutions really want to get to know yourindividuality behind all grades and test scores. However, it’snot allowed for applicants to both go over the essay word limitand submit college essays that are under 250 words according tonew common application rules.
Why you should not go over this limit?
When applying to any college or university that allows applicantsto go over the word limit, you should still avoid doing that forcertain reasons. Successful and clever students know how tofollow the necessary essay directions. As an example, whenteachers assign 5-page academic papers, they don’t want toreceive any 10-page essay. If you’re asked to use only a blackink, using the orange one is a mistake. Consider the message thatyou send if you fail to follow the necessary college applicationdirections. Colleges and universities don’t want to admitapplicants who think that their requirements are optional.
Good students also know how to cut and edit their essays withoutlosing any important content. While revising your paper,determine the ideas that are really essential. Colleges anduniversities ask applicants for quite short essays becauseadmission officers don’t like wasting their time on unfocused,long, poorly written, and rambling papers. In rare cases, you canfind the educational institutions that prefer longer collegeessays only because they want to get to know all candidatesbetter and check how well they can sustain a focus in longerpapers because it’s a valuable skill. When writing any collegeessay, it’s necessary to follow all directions precisely.
Do you need to keep a college essay short?
How long should a college essay be? Although the maximum allowedlength for a college essay is 650 words, its minimum requiredlimit is 250 words. Some teachers advise their students to keepacademic papers short because admissions officers appreciatethat, but it’s not always the truth. Colleges and universitiesrequire an essay because they want to get to know candidates aspersonalities in addition to their standardized test scores andgrades. Typically, a college paper is the most effective andpowerful tool to convey who you really are and what you areinterested in. if you succeed to select the right focus for thispaper to reveal something unique and meaningful about yourself,you need more than 250 words to provide the committee with theself-reflection necessary to make your college applicationeffective.
How should you think about the required essay length?
Although some admissions officers may be happy to read shortessays fast, a well-crafted 650-word college paper will make amore lasting and meaningful impression. Colleges want allapplicants to have enough room to write about their interests andpersonalities. To hit the required essay length, you need toavoid fillers or added words because they only bulk up your paperand their use is evident to readers. If you’re stuck, try to findother good points to support a thesis.
Although the primary goal of this word count is guiding thelength of your college essay, it serves a few other importantpurposes. The first one is helping students determine howambitious and complex their arguments should be. If you feel likegoing over the word limit to support your argument, it’s tooambitious and your writing isn’t compact. If you fail to hit theminimum essay length, you’re quite likely to under-explainyourself or your argument lacks enough ambition and support.Finally, the required essay length provides a better sense of theworkload involved in evaluating your writing.
Are fillers obvious to the committee?
Fillers are those added words that bulk up your college essay tolet you hit the minimum length. In most cases, they are veryobvious to the committee because fillers usually involve manyunnecessary wordy sentences and irrelevant comments. They aremore disappointing for admissions officers than the college essaythat goes under the required length. Keep working on your paperto let it yield better awards.
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