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### Why Size Matters: Exploring the Impact of Length on Common App Essays

Every year, students pose a recurring question to me: “What is the ideal length for my Common Application essay?” In response, I consistently advocate for an approach that encapsulates the essence of tackling both the Common Application essay and the platform as a whole: “Go Big or Go Home!”

Despite the prescribed guidelines on the Common App suggesting a 250-word minimum for the essay, students aiming for this lower threshold significantly diminish their chances of impressing college admissions officers compared to those embracing the philosophy that ‘bigger is better.’ The upper limit stands at 650 words, emphasizing that crafting a substantial and well-developed essay within 250 words is not just challenging but nearly impossible, even at 450 words. Consequently, none of my students have ever submitted an essay below 450 words. The sweet spot for Common Application essays, spanning this year’s prompts and those from the past decade, lies within the 500 to 650-word range.

Visualize a 500 to 650-word essay as a pleasant journey from D.C. to Disney World. Within this word count, students can ascend to the optimal cruising altitude by constructing a compelling introductory paragraph that not only captures the readers’ attention but also articulates the essay’s thesis clearly. Subsequently, akin to a comfortable flight experience with attendants serving refreshments, a 500 to 650-word essay allows readers to unwind. It provides the space for unhurried, detailed body paragraphs that effectively substantiate the essay’s thesis. Finally, just as landing a plane requires skill, concluding a college application essay demands finesse. It should not merely reiterate the introduction but complement it. With 500 to 650 words at their disposal, students can smoothly conclude their essays, culminating in a satisfying reading experience for the admissions officers.

To refine a stellar final draft, initial drafts should exceed 650 words. It is common for my students to craft preliminary essays of nearly 1,000 words. Thorough editing is crucial to prepare any essay for submission, as starting with too few words often yields a lackluster final product.

In summary, remember these key points for your Common App Essay:

  • Avoid settling for the minimum word count just because it is allowed.
  • Aim for a final draft of 500 to 650 words, with initial drafts being longer.
  • Ensure seamless paragraph transitions in the final draft, akin to a smooth flight experience.

Before delving into more essential Common App essay advice, let’s focus on the topics students will address in this year’s Common App. The essay prompts for 2024-2025 are thought-provoking and demand significant contemplation and drafting before applicants from the Class of 2022 can confidently submit their applications.

The 2024-2025 Common Application essay prompts are designed to elicit personal stories and reflections, challenging applicants to delve deep into their experiences and beliefs. The prompts range from exploring personal identity and growth to recounting moments of challenge and gratitude.

While some may reminisce about past prompts fondly, the current questions indicate a shift towards seeking exceptional and unique narratives from applicants. The emphasis appears to be on showcasing diversity and individuality, potentially at the expense of authenticity. Despite any reservations, applicants must navigate these prompts to present their best selves to colleges and universities.

As you embark on your Common App essay journey, remember that early brainstorming is key. If you find yourself struggling with your essay, seek guidance and resources to refine your writing. Aim to finalize your Common App essay by early August to allow ample time for revisions and supplementary essays.

For those seeking assistance with any aspect of essay brainstorming and drafting, best of luck in your endeavors!

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