An essay is a particularly important component of a college application process. Whereas the essay alone won’t allow you to join the desired educational institution, a poorly written piece will significantly reduce your chances to get accepted.
To make your application process successful, you should learn how to write an engaging paper. In particular, you should know what is the required length of an essay. When reading the prompt, you may wonder “How long should a college essay be?” In our guide, we will answer this and many other questions to help you figure out the main secrets of creating a good-looking college essay. In particular, you will get answers to the following questions:
- How long is a college essay?
- Why does the word limit matter?
- What to do if the word limit is not indicated in the prompt?
A College Essay Meaning
A college essay is a piece of writing produced by an applicant to help admission offices learn more about his or her achievements, experiences, and career aspirations. This task can be comparable to nonfiction writing, which is related to the author’s personal experiences. Such a paper is your opportunity to let admission officers learn more about you and figure out what makes your candidacy more appropriate than others. In such a paper, you need to include the information that does not appear in test scores, grades, and other materials.
To help you achieve your goals, your writing should be creative, personal, and emotionally honest. If you check good examples of college papers, you will see that they are full of reflections and introspection. What is more, this paper includes some elements of academic writing such as a thesis statement, logical organization of ideas, transition words, etc. However, it is not a standard essay containing five paragraphs. Remember that a good paper will help you convey your thoughts, ideas, attitudes, experienced, personal qualities, and even your sense of humor.
How Long Should a College Essay Be?
When it comes to writing a college essay, word count is something you should take into consideration. It is understandable that different colleges have different requirements for writing such a paper. Whereas some of them require short texts, others want their applicants to write several pages answering specific questions. You should understand that sometimes, the word count is just a suggestion whereas in other cases it is a hard rule that should be followed. If the prompt doesn’t include any information about the required word count, you will need to submit a paper of approximately 500 words as it is the average college essay length. We strongly recommend that you follow the word count required as it will affect the final outcome of your work. Since such essays are typically short, you need to make them free from “fluff” content. All the information included in your paper should be relevant to your goal. As for the length requirements, if your prompt requires a 500-word essay, you should make it between 450-500 words. If the given range is 250-650, try to make your paper 550-650 words. If you make it too short, admission officers may think that you didn’t care enough. Finally, you should understand that no matter how many words your paper contains, it is more important what you say and how you say it. Regardless of the length of your paper, you need to tell a compelling and honest story that will help your reader learn more about your personality.
Why College Essay Word Limit Matters?
It is particularly important to adhere to the word limit requested by the college. If you write too little, it may make admission officers think that you won’t be able to cope with the workload. Meanwhile, if you write more than it was requested, it will show that you don’t follow requirements, which is important in all colleges.
The best advice we can give is that you should be right under the requested word limit. If you write more than is needed, the chances are high that admission officers won’t read your essay. They have to read multiple papers on a daily basis, so the word count is one of the main points that help them understand if the candidacy is a good fit for their educational institution.
What If the Word Limit Is Not Indicated in the Prompt?
In some cases, the exact word limit is not specified. Although you cannot find this information in your prompt, you may find it elsewhere on the website. Try googling the admission essay word limit along with your college name. If you fail to find any comments regarding the required word count, you may try calling the admission office. Most probably, they won’t provide you with the exact word limit but they will definitely provide you with an idea of how long should a college essay be. In case you don’t reach the admission office, you should stick to the 500-word limit as it is the most common requirement.
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