We work with so many students each year on the college application process. One of the most popular and frequently asked questions is: “How long should my college application essay be?” This is a great question. After all, you want it long enough to tell your story, but not too long so that the reader’s mind starts to wander. You also don’t want it too short, as you want to convey that you put serious thought into your work. So where does that leave you? What is that middle sweet spot number?
Note Fixed Word Counts
From a logistical standpoint, college applications will typically tell you the maximum number of words, characters or pages your essay can be. For example, some may say between 200 and 250 words is acceptable. If you are using the Common App, which is the application that most colleges use, the primary essay is referred to as the Personal Statement. The maximum number of words for the Common App Personal Statement is 650. These word counts don’t mean that you need to write 650 words. The limit merely means that your essay cannot exceed that amount. If the application states a certain figure, make sure you follow those guidelines and don’t exceed the allowed limit. That said, you never have to aim to reach the maximum word count.