Screw the essay word limit!!

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Discus: College Admissions: 2002 - 2003 Archive: March 2003 Archive: Screw the essay word limit!!
By Kalitiha (Kalitiha) on Sunday, March 16, 2003 - 10:59 pm: Edit

Hi! I keep reading wonderful essays, and every single last one of them is 1000 to 1500 words. Am I the only person that applied to college and had a 500 word limit on her essays?

Did you have a 500 word limit to each essay? Did you actually follow the limit? Just taking a survey. Thanks for your time.

By Asdf (Asdf) on Sunday, March 16, 2003 - 11:00 pm: Edit

i abided the limit within 50 words.

By Congocross (Congocross) on Sunday, March 16, 2003 - 11:08 pm: Edit

My Notre Dame essay was 529 words. I remeber I have to truncate my essay to respect the word limit. Even though my essay still turn out to be one of the best I wrote, I would liked to have write more.

By Mikus (Mikus) on Sunday, March 16, 2003 - 11:33 pm: Edit

I tipped mine to about 1100. I tried :/

By Kalitiha (Kalitiha) on Sunday, March 16, 2003 - 11:34 pm: Edit

Well, I think that it really sucks if I tried to stick around 500 words if other people are writing much longer essays. I know my essays would have been much better if I had disregarded the limit, and they look worse in comparison to those who didn't.

By Crackcorn (Crackcorn) on Sunday, March 16, 2003 - 11:40 pm: Edit

I kept all my essays WELL WITHIN the word limits. I think the readers appreciate brevity.

By Nocalguy (Nocalguy) on Sunday, March 16, 2003 - 11:45 pm: Edit

UC's had a 2 page limit and I abid by that. Some of the private schools I applied to limited their essays to 500 words. I HAD TO limit my essay for those schools to roughly that many words because anything extra doesn't show up in the online app. lol

By Frank (Frank) on Sunday, March 16, 2003 - 11:52 pm: Edit

MIT wants each of their 3 short essays to be 150 words or less.
That's way way way too short!
Each of my "short essays" were 350-500 words apiece, much longer than what they wanted. In fact, the directions tell you to write the essays in the tiny 3" space provided on the app. There was no way I could fit my essays in that space so I just printed them out and stapled them to the app.

And MIT accepted me!
So there ya go...ignore the word limitations and say everything that you want to say. Admissions officers won't care if there is a 500 word limit and you write long as its a solid essay that impresses them.

By Kalitiha (Kalitiha) on Sunday, March 16, 2003 - 11:57 pm: Edit

well, it's really too late for that now

By Karthik (Karthik) on Monday, March 17, 2003 - 12:13 am: Edit

Hmm.. my MIT short essays were around 100-120 words. I had mailed them about this issue ( coz nothing fits in 100 words), but they were insistent on sticking to the limit, so I had to chop them down to size.

Frank - what were your stats like - if you dont mind?

By Frank (Frank) on Monday, March 17, 2003 - 12:27 am: Edit

Karthik, I already put up my stats on another topic. Here is this link:
top post

By Militarygrade (Militarygrade) on Monday, March 17, 2003 - 12:53 am: Edit

The point of a 500 word essay is to prove how adept one is at using the english language.

A person that can eloquently write in 500 words or less what another person can't fit in under 1000 words probably has a better grasp of english composition.

By Kalitiha (Kalitiha) on Monday, March 17, 2003 - 01:00 am: Edit

Militarygrade, I agree, and that was something I strove to accomplish. However, it's not really fair if a school is going to impose a limit and then have a more positive reaction to a longer, more descriptive essay.

By Tim (Tim) on Monday, March 17, 2003 - 05:44 am: Edit

I think a lot of my essays were EXACTLY 500 words...


By Pisces (Pisces) on Monday, March 17, 2003 - 06:47 am: Edit

My essay was around 600 (all common app except one, but it still fit. I tried to shorten it, but it would have lost a lot. I dont think it matters as long as it's interesting. You dont want the reader to flip through the pages thinking "aw, man, how much more do i have to go?"

By Fish3715 (Fish3715) on Monday, March 17, 2003 - 06:23 pm: Edit

My essay included clips from a letter, so w/o the clips it was 490-something; with the clips about 700-something.

By Hildegard (Hildegard) on Monday, March 17, 2003 - 09:35 pm: Edit

Well, my first draft was 500 words exactly. But then I started reading all these wonderful essays that got into Harvard, and I decided to screw the word limit. There was no way I could ever write such a great essay with only 500 words! So my last draft was about 1670 words. It wasn't bad.. Two of my teachers read it and both liked it. One was a strict literature teacher and she said it was very good.
There is another essay I found in a discussion forum from a girl who also got into Harvard, and she wrote around 1800 words. The essay was excellent, and there was no way she would have ever expressed all what she said in only 500 words. I think the admissions committee should give at least a range of 500-1000. The actual limit in many colleges is 2 pages, or 250-500 words, which sucks, because you can hardly make an impression with such a short essay.

I only extended my essay because I read all those "essays that Harvard liked", and the shortest one was probably 600, and not as good. The rest were very good, but all much longer than the 500 limit.

By Natalia (Natalia) on Monday, March 17, 2003 - 10:07 pm: Edit

I basically just played with the margins to get my essay into the space provided. If I needed to get it down, I did, but I really don't like word limits. Most of my essays were within the limits, though.

By Vizious (Vizious) on Monday, March 17, 2003 - 10:13 pm: Edit

I remember reading somewhere that an admissions officer said that the word limit is given only for those who need it....

By Kalitiha (Kalitiha) on Monday, March 17, 2003 - 10:22 pm: Edit

Damn! Now I know I'm screwed. I thought I would get seriously penalized if I didn't write within the limit. None of my essays were more than 100 words over. Crap, I had so much more to say. Freaking limits suck billy goat balls!

Incidentally, do you remember where this admissions officer was from?

By Mikus (Mikus) on Monday, March 17, 2003 - 10:48 pm: Edit

Yeah, every admissions officer I asked said to keep it to the 500 word limit. But I also saw the successful essays, and they were much longer. I decided to risk it and write more. Hopefully that was the wise move...

Although I think it was important to know there were some very excellent short essays as well. Just depends on the topic and the style I suppose. A "funny" essay can get away with being a lot longer because it reads faster... etc.

By Kalitiha (Kalitiha) on Tuesday, March 18, 2003 - 11:05 pm: Edit

Mikus, I think you have a good point, I wish I'd have made my essays longer.

By Kalitiha (Kalitiha) on Wednesday, March 19, 2003 - 06:12 pm: Edit


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