College Bound: The Write Stuff Help View All Posts

About College Bound: The Write Stuff Help

Nancy Frieder hopes her passion for assisting students with their college and post graduate application essays shines through in her blogs. She created The Write Stuff Help to reduce the stress for the applicants and their parents by helping the student pinpoint an essay topic and write it in a... Read more

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What’s the Final Word about the Word Count for Essays?

The essays on the College Board's Common Application must be between 250 and 650 words. Shorter or longer essays will be rejected when they're electronically submitted. It’s that simple. Or is it?

Just as a picture can relay the words, a few good words can have big impact!

Just as a picture can relay the words, a few good words can have big impact!

Students understand the concept, but sometimes they still aren’t sure how long their essays should be. I helped a student whose completed essay was just under 300 words. We were both happy with his results, except he was nervous about its length. I assured him the essay wasn’t missing anything. He had told his story, it was concise, and it was good. Padding it with extra words would have diluted its impact. What admissions officer would want to read an essay longer than necessary?

On the other hand, I’ve worked with students whose essays had lacked details or examples. Illustrating something with a little story is always much better than making a flat statement with little or no support. Sometimes this increases the word count so much we have some serious editing to perform. I show the students how their paragraphs can be tightened rather than butchered away.

People often ask for my opinion about the ideal length for the college application essay. I'm sure my answer doesn't please them.

The best number of words, I tell them, depends on what the student needs to say. It’s enough words to relay a great story, but not so many to make the reader want to speed through it. Some short essays grab the reader’s attention and tell a lot with relatively few words. Other short essays don’t say much and leave the reader with an empty feeling about it. Likewise, some long essays are so entertaining the reader savors each word and feels like he would like to meet the student to see if he or she is really who the reader has envisioned. Other long essays may be boring, prompting the reader to skim through them so he can move on to better ones.

This is my ninth blog posting for Montgomery Community Media. The word count for each of my posts has been within the parameters for the essays on the Common App. My blog has no word count restrictions, but I have voluntarily kept them within these parameters to prove to myself the range is enough to relay most stories.

Which of my postings have you liked most or least? I would like to see if there is any correlation to the word count, or if it’s simply a preference of content. Let me know.

By the way, at 467 words, this is roughly my average word count for my blog posts to date. The question, however, is how does it rank at being helpful?

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Nancy Frieder

About Nancy Frieder

Nancy Frieder hopes her passion for assisting students with their college and post graduate application essays shines through in her blogs. She created The Write Stuff Help to reduce the stress for the applicants and their parents by helping the student pinpoint an essay topic and write it in a way to attract admissions officers. Those who work with Nancy not only improve their writing, but also learn to target an audience with a unique reflection of themselves in a way that their test scores and GPA cannot.

Nancy has lived in Montgomery County for more than 27 years. She has held reporting and editing positions for both local and national publications, and enjoys substitute teaching in Montgomery County Public Schools. Nancy and her husband just became empty-nesters, as both of their children now attend college. Their dog, Fez, is getting more attention than ever!

Catch up with Nancy on Facebook and at her website The Write Stuff Help.

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