The Ivy Coach Daily
September 27, 2023
Word and Character Limits in College Essays
Previously Published on September 2, 2011:
With every college essay comes a word limit. Some essays are 35 words, others 650 words. Some are 100 characters, others two pages. But for each of these essays, irrespective of the word count, there is one guiding principle that college applicants should follow: stick to the word count — don’t write more, don’t write less.
Essays Are Real Estate for Applicants to Make Their Case
Each essay — no matter its length — offers applicants real estate to make their case for admission. Some schools, of course, offer more real estate than others. For the 2023-2024 college admissions cycle, for example, Harvard University has five 250-word essays. Meanwhile, Brown University has three essays and four short answers: 200-250 words for the three essays, three words for the first short answer, 100 words for two short answers, and 50 words for the final short answer.
Applicants Should Write to the Maximum Word Count in Essays
So, when a school asks applicants to write a 200-250-word essay, how many words should they write? That’s an easy one: 250. When a school offers students the chance to write optional essays, should they write them? You bet! No optional essay in highly selective college admissions should ever be considered optional. Instead, it’s a chance for students to make their case. And applicants should always write to the maximum word count in all college essays.
A Word Count Test
To conclude, we’ve got a test for this year’s applicants. Applicants to Duke University‘s Class of 2028 are required to answer one 250-word essay, and they’re given five optional essay options of which they can write up to two. So, how many essays should this year’s Duke applicants write? You guessed it — three! And how long should each of their essays be? You guessed it again — 250 words! Not more, not less.
Ivy Coach’s Assistance with College Essays
If you’re interested in optimizing your case for admission by submitting the most powerful essays possible, fill out Ivy Coach‘s free consultation form, and we’ll be in touch to outline our college admissions counseling services.
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