College Application Essay Length

” Despite what the official directions on the Common App indicate, students writing a 250-word essay – the lowest end of the range that is officially acceptable to complete this essay – have a far lower chance of convincing college admissions officers of their admissions-worthiness than students who believe in the maxim, ‘bigger is better.” The official upper limit in acceptable length on the Common App essay is 650 words.

A well-thought out and well-developed essay of any true substance is not only not possible in 250 words, it’s barely possible in 450 words.

This is why none of our clients have ever submitted a Common App essay consisting of fewer than 450 words.

With that said, the true sweet spot in Common Application essay writing, for this current year’s prompts and prompts going back over a decade, is 500 to 650 words.

Think of a 500- to 650-word essay as a smooth and enjoyable flight from D. Next, just as one wants to have an enjoyable in-flight experience with the fasten seatbelt sight off and flight attendants passing out drinks and snacks, so to does a 500- to 650-word essay allow readers to relax a bit.

In 500 to 650 words students are able to produce non-rushed, non-turbulent, highly valuable descriptive and specific body paragraphs that go a long way toward proving the essay’s thesis.

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!

For example, many students can’t see beyond the superficial prompt to construct an essay that positively communicates their personality and passion.

Some students rehash their activities and achievements without adding the personal flavor, perspective and substance that admissions officers look for. As an independent college admissions consultant, I read many application essays and see many common application essay mistakes.

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