How Long Should A College Essay Be?

A College Essay is an essay written to tell a college admissions committee about yourself and why you deserve to be admitted into their school.

Basically, the college essay is the same thing as a personal statement.

It is simply a written composition of moderate length to a college admission committee by a student containing information about him/her self why he/she deserves to be admitted into their school.

In this article, I’ll carefully answer all your questions about college essay, I’ll talk through its importance, the length, how to write an effective college Essay and everything you need to know about a college essay’

About College Essay

The National Association for College Admission Counseling’s 2011 State of College Admission report found that while the strength of curriculum, grades, and admission test scores are the top factors in the college admission decision.

A majority of colleges and universities believe the essay to be of considerable or moderate importance in determining which academically qualified students they would choose.

In other words, when all else is equal between competing applicants, a compelling essay can make the difference. A powerful, well-written college essay can also tip the balance for a marginal applicant.

Many colleges feeling that the 500 words limit of 2011-2013 was a little too short resulted in the 2025 version of the Common Application essay length limit of 650 words.

Even though the personal essay prompt changes regularly. The length tends to stay in place. Remember that even colleges that don’t use the Common Application have clearly defined length limits for essays.

Furthermore, you might be used to writing on a page limit basis. Have it in mind that while some colleges provide page limits for their essays, most colleges use a word limit instead.

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This takes care of the standard average length of college essays received by colleges, regardless of font or formatting.

In a nutshell, your personal essay should be very close to but not exceeding the word limit length. In other words, your essay should be at least 50 words less than the word limit in the worst cases.

Therefore if the personal essay word limits if 500 you should try to write between 450-500 words. Hence, in a situation where you’re given a range, try to stay within that range.

Finally, most personal essay prompts usually provide the word limit right in the instructions or in the prompt.

Why Do Colleges Ask For an Essay?

There are a couple of reasons that colleges ask applicants to submit an essay, but the basic idea is that it gives them more information about you. Importantly, who you are beyond grades and test scores.

#1. Insight Into Your Personality

The most important role of the college application essay is to inform the admission committees of your personality and what kind of addition you’d be to there school’s community.

Are you Ambitious? Caring? Inquisitive? These kinds of qualities will have a profound impact on your college experience. But they are hard to determine based on a high school transcript.

It simply tells the admission committee what your drive is.

#2. Evidence of writing skills

A secondary purpose of the personal essay is to serve as a writing sample and help colleges see that you have the skills needed to succeed in college classes.

The personal statement is the opportunity to show off your writing skills. Therefore, take the time to be creative in crafting a piece you’re really proud of.

Meanwhile, don’t be scared if you aren’t a very good writer. The admissions officers know you’re not a professional at this stage. They just want to see that you can express your idea clearly.

Whatever happens, your essay must be void of errors or typos.

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#3: Explanation of Extenuating Circumstances

For some students, the personal essay is also an opportunity to explain factors that affected their high school record.

Be it health-related issues or family emergency. Colleges want to know if you struggled with any serious issue that affected your high school record.

Ensure you include any relevant circumstances on your application.

Regardless, in some cases, there will be a separate section for you to address these types of issues. Likewise, address any black mark on your record like criminal charges or expulsion.

4: Your Reasons for Applying to the School

Many colleges ask you to write an essay or paragraph on why you’re applying to their school specifically.

Admissions officers ask these questions to determine if you’re genuinely excited about the school and whether you’re likely to attend if accepted.

When should you start writing a college essay?

Write at least five to ten of these personals statement over the summer and fall months.

Then depending on when and where you are applying, start as early as you can to write your college essay or essays.

You may want to vary your personal statement depending on the colleges you are applying to.

How lengthy is 650 words in an essay?

1 page is 500 words single spaced, 250 words double spaced. 2 pages are 1,000 words single spaced, 500 words double spaced. Paragraph

3 pages is 1,500 words single spaced, 750 words double spaced. 4 pages is 2,000 words single spaced, 1,000 words double spaced

What should a college essay be about?

That is what the essay process is asking students to do. In fact, the purpose of the college personal statement is to give college admissions officers a glimpse of a student that they can’t glean from their high school transcript or other questions on their application.

What format should a college essay be?

Below are guidelines for the formatting of college essays based on recommendations from the MLA (the Modern Language Association).

Fonts: Your essay should be word processed in 12-point Times New Roman fonts.

Double-space: Your entire college essay should be double spaced, with no single spacing anywhere and no extra spacing anywhere.

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How Long Should A College Essay Be?

Students have written 400-word essays and gotten into good colleges and some have written 2000-words. Generally, students write between 500-700 words.

but the point of finding your perfect length is because, word count is not actually the benchmark used.

While the maximum length for the Common Application essay is 650 words, the minimum length is 250 words.

In as much as you need to follow directions. As long as the college’s online application doesn’t cut you off.

It’s fine to go over the word limit by 10-20 words in a short essay, and maybe by a few sentences in a long essay.

Colleges have better things to do than to check the word counts of your essays for minor infractions.

Many counselors advise students to keep their essays on the shorter end of the spectrum because college admissions officers are very busy, and they will appreciate short essays.

College Essay FAQs

Personal statement — an essay you write to show a college admissions committee who you are and why you deserve to be admitted to their school. It’s worth noting that, unlike “college essay,” this term is used for application essays for graduate school as well. College essay — basically the same as a personal statement.

A growing number of elite colleges and universities, including Dartmouth, Harvard, Yale, Stanford, Princeton, Brown, Duke and the University of Michigan, have announced in recent months that they will no longer require SAT essay or ACT essay scores for admission

You need to follow directions, but as long as the college’s online application doesn’t cut you off, it’s fine to go over the word limit by 10-20 words in a short essay, and maybe by a few sentences in a long essay. Colleges have better things to do than to check the word counts of your essays for minor infractions

But a general guideline for the paragraphs in your college essays is that they should be about 1/3 to 1/2 of a page. Any longer, and chances are good that you have more than one main idea.

While single-spaced essays are usually acceptable, your essay will be easier to read if it’s 1.5 or double-spaced. Clearly delineate your paragraphs. A single tab at the beginning is fine


In conclusion, a college essay is simply a written statement. It is an essay written by an applicant to a college or University.

Basically, It contains information about the applicant and why he/she deserves to be admitted into their school.



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