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Through our very own editors and guest writers, this blog will discuss the INSIDE scoop on the admissions process of various schools and programs. If you wish to ask a specific question, please write to us, and we will make every attempt to address your questions in our future blog discussions.
Wednesday, July 6, 2011
"Common Application" Places Limits on Personal Statements
If you are an aspiring undergraduate or college transfer student, you have likely heard of the Common Application (colloquially known as the "College App"). For those who haven't, it is a non-profit membership organization providing, amongst other things, a single college admissions application that is accepted at more than 400 participating universities across the United States. By design, it helps to streamline the application process. Students write a single personal statement and submit it, along with their grades and scores to the universities of their choice.

For more than three decades, the Common App placed a 500-word limit upon submitted personal statements. Four years ago, the Common App changed their policy to allow unlimited word counts on personal statements. For the 2011-2012 academic year, they are changing it back. Why? Admissions experts claimed that personal statements were becoming long-winded and generally less well-written. Some students simply didn't know when to stop. Bleary-eyed admissions officers scarcely had the time to take in every word.

What does this mean for students? Good news, in this blogger's opinion. Not because it will be easier to do. Writing shorter personal statements means trimming, extracting and meticulously rearranging your words-no easy feat when you want so badly to impress your reader. What it will do is to force writers to make every word count. As the famous Elements of Style manual decreed, "omit needless words". Keeping a personal statements to 500 words will enable the reader to savor each one. And, after all, isn't that every student's real goal?


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