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How Long Should a College Essay Be?

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❶This is especially true for the college essay, which often feels like the most personal part of the application.

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The Common Application and other college applications ask for relatively short essays because college admissions officers don't want to waste time reading long, rambling, unfocused, poorly edited essays. Not all colleges, however, are fans of the shorter length.

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I never met an admission officer who literally counted the words in a college essay. Outliers in either direction were immediately noticed, though—writing words when the space accommodates , or submitting pages when a single page was requested—can send a bad first impression.

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College application essays don't typically have a required length; however, there are a few things to keep in mind when determining how long your application essays should be. Generally speaking, colleges might suggest that essays be about words long. A college admissions essay is often one of the most stressful parts of applying to college. It's hard to know what schools want you to say, and it's very difficult to represent yourself accurately in such a short amount of space.

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The Final Word: How Long Should a College Essay Be? The best college essay length is usually pretty straightforward: you want to be right under or at the provided word limit. If you go substantially past the word limit, you risk having your essay cut off by an online application form or having the admissions officer just not finish it. The application essay is about you and what you think about yourself and the field you want to study. How far back should I go in tracing my background? For your essay, choose the details that you want to highlight in order to best answer the question at hand.