|By Biteme (Biteme) on Monday, October 04, 2004 - 08:48 pm: Edit|
How bad is it if the essay goes over the 500 word limit by 150 words?
it's a great essay...but it's too long.
will that hurt a lot? (for harvard and mit)
|By Biteme (Biteme) on Monday, October 04, 2004 - 09:20 pm: Edit|
|By Newt (Newt) on Monday, October 04, 2004 - 10:08 pm: Edit|
From what an ivy admission officer told me, no, it will not hurt you. In fact, mine is ~800 words and he said that it was fine. The important thing is that you come across in your essay. If it takes an extra 150 words, that is fine. That said, the extra 150 words should be worth the read--make them good and entertaining. I can see how going over the limit with bad writing or generic writing could serve as a detriment to one's essay.
|By Editrix (Editrix) on Monday, October 04, 2004 - 10:29 pm: Edit|
I think going more than 10% over the requested length is risky. I haven't come across an explicit statement from Harvard or MIT, but here's the answer to a FAQ on the Yale admissions website:
"My essays are more than 500 words each. Is that OK?
"We ask that you respect the word limits we suggest--we say 'about 500 words.' Will we read the words beyond 500? Yes. But if your essays are much longer than 500 words, understand that you will not help yourself by seeming to have ignored our request."
While admissions officers may tell you otherwise in person--part of their job is recruiting, and they may not want to come across as excessively rigid--when the time actually comes to review your file, they're more likely to be bored or annoyed than impressed by a longer essay. (Take a look at ON WRITING THE COLLEGE APPLICATION ESSAY, by former admissions officer Harry Bauld, for some insights into what they're really thinking when they read endless stacks of essays.)
Many, if not most, essays can actually be improved by sharpening the focus and pruning wordy or repetitive sentences.
|By Nngmm (Nngmm) on Tuesday, October 05, 2004 - 12:16 am: Edit|
If it fits on one page, you'll probably be fine. But maybe you can ask your English teacher to go over it and advise you how to shorten it.
|By Tlaktan (Tlaktan) on Tuesday, October 05, 2004 - 01:42 am: Edit|
What about if a) your English teacher can't prune it and b) your essay is a narrative, and to cut anything out would take out important parts of the story, and c) your essay is plateauing around 1000 words.. It's captivating, but LOOOONG.. (critics say)
|By Editrix (Editrix) on Tuesday, October 05, 2004 - 01:46 am: Edit|
Sorry, Tlaktan, but it won't be captivating to the harried adcoms if it's 1000 words long. You really need to cut it in half; there have to be some parts of the narrative that are less important than others.
|By Tlaktan (Tlaktan) on Tuesday, October 05, 2004 - 02:07 am: Edit|
I'll run it by the teacher again. :-D
|By Tlaktan (Tlaktan) on Tuesday, October 05, 2004 - 02:09 am: Edit|
Oh yeah. What if it doesn't ask for a word limit? Rather, just a page limit?
|By Editrix (Editrix) on Tuesday, October 05, 2004 - 07:33 am: Edit|
If you're talking about a one-page limit, you'd have to use something like Times Roman 10-point type (12-point is standard), with no spaces between paragraphs, to fit in 1000 words--which is even less likely to endear you to the adcoms.
It's up to you, of course, and I know it's hard to cut an essay you like, but I honestly believe you're putting yourself at a disadvantage if you go over the limit or ask your blurry-eyed readers to squint at tiny type.
|By Voronwe (Voronwe) on Tuesday, October 05, 2004 - 08:22 am: Edit|
My son got into a top ten school with a 1,000 word essay - they loved it. I am a former Ivy interviewer with lots of friends in the field, and everyone agreed that if the essay was awesome, it didn't matter.
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