Admissions Essays
Blog  |  About Us  |  Help Center  |  
Admission Essay & Personal Statement Development Services
Admissions Essays Blog
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.
Sunday, December 25, 2011
Word Counts in Admissions Essays: Quality over Quantity
Much ado has been made about word-limits in admissions essays over this last admissions cycle. Earlier this year, the Common Application re-instated a 500-word limit on their admission essay. A handful of universities have inspired water-cooler chats by hacking their word-limits down as small as 140 characters. The changes have raised questions about whether or not shorter word-counts have the effect of strangling the personality out of a composition designed to be the student's only real outlet for self-expression.

Here's the thing. Admissions officers have a really good idea of just how long it takes to offer a meaningful self-portrait in words. Few universities will discard an essay simply because it goes a few words over or under the prescribed limit. Yet students persist in over-analyzing just how much wiggle room they have (10% over? 5% under?). I recently came across an article in which an admissions expert noted the following: if you are wasting all of your energy trying to decide whether your essay should be 520 words or 545 words, you are missing the point. I have to agree. As an editor, I have had countless students ask me to help them trim as few as twenty words from an essay. I am a strong proponent of proofreading, and I think placing extra pairs of eyes on admissions essays is essential. What isn't helpful is funneling energy into the addition or subtraction of a handful of words. At some point, you're more worried about extricating "the's" and "because's", and you've stopped paying attention to the overall quality of your essay. It's a little like taking a pair of scissors to the hem of a dress which really needs to be taken in at the waist. So, hard as it may be, students must learn to keep the word-count in mind, without making it the central focus of their essay. Believe me, that's exactly what the reader will be doing.


posted by at

Previous Posts
Admission Essay  |  Personal Statement  |  Letter of Recommendation  |  Scholarship Essay
© Admissions Essays, Inc. 2013. All Rights Reserved. Terms & Conditions  |  Privacy Policy  |  Site Map