There will be a change to the Common Application for next year’s college applicants. The change concerns the personal statement which the Common Application will now be restricting to 250 to 500 words. After a four year experiment in which the Common Application had an unlimited word count on the personal statement, the word limit will be returning. Prior to the four year no word limit experiment, the Common Application contained a 500-word limit for 31 years so this shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise.
According to Rob Killion as reported by “The Washington Post,” “‘Our Board of Directors re-instated this maximum word limit at the unanimous recommendation of our counselor advisory committee and our member advisory committee. Both groups indicated that the lack of any guidance regarding a maximum size over the last four years had led to essays that were far too long, less well-written, and, at the end of the day, often skimmed rather than read by admission officers. In addition, the absence of a maximum size proved to be confusing for students — particularly those without access to counseling — who simply did not know when to stop writing.'”
250 words just isn’t enough for the personal statement to showcase your writing abilities but 500 words is the word count we’ve been giving to our students even during the four year unlimited word experiment. This change will thus have no impact on our students.
Check out the colleges that joined the Common Application this year and be sure to read our post on Truncated Essays on the Common Application. And have a look at “The Washington Post” piece by Valerie Strauss on the changes to the Common Application.