College Application Essay as Haiku? For Some Applicants, 500 Words Just Aren’t Enough.

By Matt Flegenheimer (New York Times)
Published: October 28, 2011

Penn Weinberger had grown attached to his college admissions essay. The topic — coping with a brother’s attention deficit disorder — was important to him. The anecdotes clicked. The characters had dimension. The meaning, as his teachers at Hunter College High School had long advised him, was shown, not told.

The only problem with Penn’s writing was the math: It was 650 words, outside the 250- to 500-word range re-established by the Common Application this spring — after a four-year experiment with no upper limit — but only now being grappled with as deadlines for early admissions approach next week.

“I just had to chop down all the emotion,” Penn said.

Unlike other parts of the application, which, in its online version, cuts students off midword if they exceed character limits, the personal statement will not be truncated, raising the question in school corridors: Does 500 really mean 500?

Read the rest of the story here

Have you started your own admissions essay?  If so, do you feel that the word count restrictions will negatively impact your ability to present the best picture of yourself to the admissions counselors?

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