General Question

cbloom8's avatar

How many words should my college admission essay be?

Asked by cbloom8 (1708 points ) September 21st, 2009

I’m writing my college application essay, and through the Common Application, the essay does not have a maximum number of words, only a minimum of 250. I will be applying to a few state schools and a few higher private universities. How long do you think it should be? I want to stay close to 500 words, or around two double-spaced pages, but how far can I stray from that? How long do you think it should be?

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8 Answers

answerjill's avatar

Most college applications are pretty specific about how long their essays should be. Of course, I haven’t applied to college in a long time, so things may have changed. If you have doubts, contact the admissions offices – but only after you look to see if they gave you any details. Good luck!

Facade's avatar

I’d say 500 is a safe maximum.

EmpressPixie's avatar

I absolutely agree with Jill, call the admissions office and ask. If it is totally up to you, then write the essay with an eye to keeping it short, yet complete.

Double spaced, no links or anything. Whatever you can do through formatting to make it easier on the eyes of the readers, they will appreciate. If no font is specified, put the essay in one that is easy on the eyes—Times New Roman is actually kind of harsh. Something like Calibri might be nicer.

DrBill's avatar

It really depends on what level you are going in at. For a bachelors 500 is good.

Darwin's avatar

My daughter is doing this right now. Her counselor and her English teacher (and also the representative from Rice University) all say one page, double-spaced, 12-point type. Admissions people hate to read “novels.”

wundayatta's avatar

342 words exactly. No more and no less. There’s statistics about this.

tiffyandthewall's avatar

write enough that you get your point across, but not enough that you feel like yours is going to be one of the longest they get. i’m guessing about a page, because that’s what i tend to hear about college essays.

lagunawriter's avatar

I’m a journalist and high school english teacher who maintains a blog on how to write college admissions essays, including lots of writing tips, advice, references, inspiration, etc. (www.lagunawriter.wordpress.com). i advise students to shoot for 500 to 700—and then cut them down. usually cutting them improves them.

my dad, a former english professor, used to compare how long writing pieces should be to a woman’s skirt (not sure where he got this analogy): they should be long enough to cover the material and short enough to be interesting.

good luck!! : )

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