Word limits in college essays in addition to character count limits shouldn’t be interpreted as suggestions. If a supplemental college essay specifies that the character count should be 2,000 characters or less, that means that 2,212 characters is not acceptable. And that character count indeed does include spaces for all of those who think spaces don’t count against the total! College admissions officers are reading thousands of applications. Do you think they’ll be excited to come upon a college essay that is longer than it should be? Of course not!
Whatever you wish to express in a college essay can absolutely be expressed within the word or character count. If the essay calls for only 500 characters, give 500 characters. Don’t give 250 characters. Use the playing field they’ve given you to showcase who you are and what you’re all about. Write the maximum number of words and characters possible under these limits but do not exceed these limits. If you can’t adequately express yourself in the allotted words or characters, then consider refining your writing skills to write more concisely.
Check out our post on Mistakes in College Essays.