• Bethany Fernandez

How do you squeeze your life story into 650 words?

College admissions essays have word limits so the question is, “How do you fit all of who you are on to a couple of pages?” Here are my top 5 tips to keep your essay within your word limit.

Highlight one part of you – Your application essays are not there for you to explain all of you who you are. As you start, develop and complete your application essays, keep in mind, your essay is to highlight one strength you have OR one part of who you are. Admissions offices will look at your entire application to get a picture of you: what classes you took, what activities you were involved with, what your recommenders say about you. Your essay is sharing one aspect of who you are, one personality trait that the admissions won’t see in the rest of your application.

Answer the question – Make sure that your essay directly answers the question(s). Staying focused on the actual question can help keep all the extra details out and your word count down.

Use words you know – “Shift F7” is a handy-dandy thesaurus in Microsoft Word, but if you didn’t know the word before you sat down to write don’t use it. Often when we use words we don’t know very well, our writing becomes longer because we automatically try to explain the word just to make sure the reader understands what we are saying. Keep your essay shorter by using active verbs that you already know well.

Eliminate the fluff – If the sentence isn’t absolutely crucial in supporting your thesis statement, get rid of it. It is better to have rich content than pretty sounding words.

Edit it – this sounds obvious, but make sure that you take time to edit your essay before handing off to your parent, counselor, teacher or whoever else you have looking at it. Read it out loud for a different perspective; trust me, it works.

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