College Application Essay Length

Every year students ask me the same question: “How long should my Common Application essay be?” I am never shy about providing them with the response that best summarizes how they need to approach both the Common Application essay and the Common Application in general: “Go Big or Go Home!If the maximum word count for a college admissions essays is 650 words, applicants should not write 500 words.

That experiment lasted for such a short time because colleges were getting such transparently superficial essays that they were a waste of time and effort for students and completely lacking any valuable insight helpful to college admissions officers. In 500 to 650 words students have the space they need to achieve proper cruising altitude: writing a strong introductory paragraph that both grabs readers’ attention and clearly states the essay’s thesis.Students who have 500 to 650 words to work with are able to smoothly touch down in a way that puts the cherry on top of the entire flying/essay reading experience.At the end of the day, admissions officers read your essays because they want to fly the friendly skies with you into your world.Finally, landing a plane takes great skill, as does writing a conclusion to a college application essay.It’s not a simple rehash of the lift off (thesis); it should be complementary to it.Yet, this is what students in the Class of 2018 who will apply to Common App colleges and universities have to work with this coming admissions cycle, so they better start brainstorming now.The 2017-2018 Common Application essay prompts are as follows: Choose the option below that best helps you write an essay of no more than 650 words. Some students have a background, identity, interest, or talent that is so meaningful they believe their application would be incomplete without it.We can’t stress enough the importance of taking advantage of the real estate an applicant is afforded in essays to make his or her case. These short-takes too are opportunities to present a window into your world, to distinguish yourself from other talented applicants to an elite institution. But don’t think that an essay means only boxes that allow for 100 words or more. But, these new questions are no joke; none of the essay prompts are easy, and all require a great deal of time, thought, and drafting before members of the Class of 2016 can confidently hit submit on their applications. Though the 2017-2018 Common App will feature some improvements compared to the 2016-2017 version of the Common App, it seems as though the people behind the Common App are less and less interested in reading essays from normal teenagers and more and more interested in pushing teens to appear exceptional, idiosyncratic, or downright eccentric for the purpose of entertaining application readers and putting on a show of some sort of diversity.I would be surprised if many of the admissions officers could portray themselves accurately with these prompts.

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