How Long Should a College Essay Be?
A college admissions essay is probably one of the most daunting parts of applying to college. It is difficult to know what colleges expect to hear from you, and it is similarly just as difficult to express yourself in such a limited amount of space. Knowing the right number of words to use can prove to be a challenge, but colleges almost always give guidelines for minimum and maximum length for their essays.
1. The Common Application
The Common App is a form used by more than four hundred colleges and universities in America. It has a word count limit of six hundred and fifty words for its essays with no minimum. This word count translates to a three paragraph minimum. The word processor program has a feature that can help you keep track of the length of your essay.
2. Other universities and colleges
The Common Application is not synonymous with all schools, so requirements differ. Some colleges have an optional essay component or have no essay requirement at all. Others have their own unique essay questions but with the same limit as the Common App. Still, other colleges have an essay component with neither a maximum nor minimum length. Instead, they leave it up to the applicant to determine the suitable length for the essay. It is vital to read your college’s application carefully to establish their requirements.
3. Why this length?
Although a lot of students find it hard to write lengthier papers in school, the most common problem they have with college essays is keeping them brief enough. While six hundred and fifty words sounds like a lot, it is not enough to express your characteristics and deepest thoughts. The reason why essays need to be short is that colleges have to look at hundreds or even thousands of essays each year. If the essays are too lengthy, you can imagine that college admission officers will not have enough time to go through all of them.
To get the ideal length for your college essay, create an organized and detailed outline. You want to write a substantial and coherent essay. When you create an outline, you have a clear guideline on what you are going to write, and it will be easier to keep your essay moving from one point to another. Going for three or four paragraphs is ideal.
If you go slightly over the specified word count, there is no reason to panic. Try to reduce the length and console yourself in the fact that the admissions officers will not be counting every word. The six hundred and fifty word count limit is more of a guideline than a stipulated guideline. As such, a slightly longer essay will not ruin your chances of getting into college.