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How Long Is an Essay and How to Achieve the Needed Length?
Table of content.
- 01. How Many Paragraphs Are in an Essay in General?
- 02. Guidelines for Average College Essay Length
- 03. Determining Essay Size Based on Its Type
- 04. Is It Possible to Go Under Suggested Length?
- 05. What About Going Over the Suggested Length?
- 06. Follow Instructions and Avoid Unnecessary Worries
How long is an essay? It’s such a simple question, and yet very few students know an answer to it. For some reason, many professors choose to focus on clarifying requirements, grammar rules, writing style, credible sources, and they forget about essay length. Sure, they’ll likely tell if they want 3 or 5 pages, but there will also be instances where you’re left guessing.
The only way to resolve this issue once and for all is by learning whether there is a specific academic standard regarding an average length of papers. We’ve prepared detailed explanations that will address every possible question one might have.
How Many Paragraphs Are in an Essay in General?
There is an easy way to remember how long general essays should be: just think about paragraphs. In average-sized papers that take at least several pages, one paragraph usually ranges from 30 to 200 words. So, students should not write less or more than that. If you’re wondering about the specifics, keep this following fact in mind: a sentence should be at least 10 words long.
So, at a minimum, paragraph must have 3 sentences (an opening statement, the heart of a paragraph, concluding remark). 200 words are the maximum in a five paragraph essay as going above that length will make an essay very wordy. People don’t like struggling through the paper where no breaks are in sight — even if you describe the most interesting topic, majority will find it hard to keep reading. Let’s see statistics of how long paragraphs should be depending on essay size.
- Short essays: between 100 – 500 words.
These papers have to have at least 3 paragraphs . Yes, it could be complex for students to write a 200 word essay and still divide it into several paragraphs, but the thing is, an essay is a special type of writing. It’s not a discussion post where you could express everything in one short passage: essays must have an introduction, body, and conclusion, with a minimum of 3 sentences present in each.
- Average essays: between 600 – 1000 words.
Here, you should compose at least 4-5 paragraphs. Once again, there will be an intro along with conclusion, and the rest should go to a body.
- Longer essays: between 1100 – 1500 words.
Add at least 6-8 paragraphs for papers of this length. There can be more in a 1000 word essay and above, but definitely not less.
- Long essays: between 1600 – 2000 words.
In such a long text, there should be between 8 and 14 paragraphs . Take some time to describe every point; don’t viola set limit — break your text into readable and coherent parts.
For even longer papers, calculate the number of paragraphs by using statistics or data we presented. Remember the main rule: passage of text should be 30 – 200 words long. It cannot have less than 3 sentences.
Guidelines for Average College Essay Length
Now that we’ve covered paragraphs, let’s talk about three major components of an essay. Intro and conclusion should be of specified length. Normally, they cannot be shorter than 5% of the overall content, but they also shouldn’t be longer than 10%. This way, body length is virtually unlimited — allow instructions from your teacher to guide you there. The reasoning here is simple: you should introduce your topic in sufficient details, but it is important not to overdo it. No need for presenting all details at once, better to leave it for the body.
Same applies to conclusion: you have to re-state all major findings, but this must be done in a concise manner. Avoid copying stuff from previous paragraphs and simply finalize your point. A typical essay example in terms of length would be a 500 word essay. In this case, size of intro and body would have to be 50 words tops. Stick to these rules and you won’t have any issues!
Determining Essay Size Based on Its Type
You likely know that essays could be of many different kinds. For example, a letter-to-a-friend assignment isn’t long: it usually takes about 700 words max. Personal commentary tasks are of the same size or shorter. Narrative, argumentative , or analytical works comprise 1200 words (4 pages) — this is standard word count for essays of this type. A term paper is more serious and longer task where you need to write at least 1500 words. Research and dissertation are even more complex: their format presupposes length of at least 3000 words. But it is better to regard the size depending on study level.
High School Essay
One of the most common types of assignments in high school is a 5 paragraph essay. It ranges between typical 300 – 1000 words (1 – 3+ pages respectively).
College is tougher than school, so students should be prepared to work harder. Essays could start with 1500 and go up to 4000 words. The latter isn’t all that common, but it happens when you’re studying a complex subject where a lot of research is involved. You could be asked to write reports on companies or other businesses, and they usually are far from being short.
How long are essays that are submitted as admission attempts? They should be relatively concise, but at the same time, they must present your personal story in a captivating and sufficiently detailed way. So, based on general standards, people should write 400 words as a minimum & 1200 words as an absolute maximum.
Students have lots of writing to do when they become graduates. For proving they are capable of maintaining this education level, they are expected to compose papers ranging between 2000 and 6000 words, sometimes more. Dissertations tend to be even longer, but they could fall within this word limit, too.
Is It Possible to Go Under Suggested Length?
This question concerns a big number of students. It’s understandable: you could be a great expert in your major or at any school subject, but being a good writer isn’t an automatic skill that could be acquired with no practice. In these cases, it’s a chore to write 750 word essay, working on combining hundreds upon hundreds of words, and desire to stop sooner than required could be overwhelming. Well, you can always violate that limit we suggested above — after all, it’s merely a standard, not a solid requirement.
Never go under the word count indicated by professor. This is the strict rule: if you write fewer words than that, there’s a risk of receiving failing grade or getting it reduced by a big, upsetting extent. Professors hate what they perceive as students’ laziness — many will simply refuse to read an essay that lacks even one word. Listen to them as they inform you of how long should an essay be and follow their instructions.
What About Going Over the Suggested Length?
While some people hate necessity of being writers as they’re studying, others absolutely love it. In fact, they love it so much that they can’t stop writing, so before they know it, they exceed the normal size limit. It is preferable to failing to reach set limit, but the reactions of teachers could differ. Imagine that you asked, “How long is a short essay we have to write?” The reply was, “500 words.” But you got so inspired when working on it that resulted in 700.
Some professors praise for going above the length — they’ll be impressed. Others will reject your essay because they have no interest in dealing with disobedient students, even if writing more is technically a commendable thing. There is the third group, too: they’ll stop reading your essay after the limit, and give marks depending on what they’ve already read. It is really better to clarify or follow length guidelines you’ve been given.
Follow Instructions and Avoid Unnecessary Worries
No matter how hard it is, always try sticking to instructions. If you’re told to write a 250 word essay, do it. In case you went above the imposed length, try shortening content by cutting off redundant sentences (though if you clarified this with professor in advance, it’s perfect and you shouldn’t worry). Everything is more difficult in case a student fails to think of more paragraphs to write. They could look for help or give themselves some time for cooling off. Either way, put your best efforts into it, and you’re bound to succeed!
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Sat / act prep online guides and tips, the best college essay length: how long should it be.
Figuring out your college essay can be one of the most difficult parts of applying to college. Even once you've read the prompt and picked a topic, you might wonder: if you write too much or too little, will you blow your chance of admission? How long should a college essay be?
Whether you're a terse writer or a loquacious one, we can advise you on college essay length. In this guide, we'll cover what the standard college essay length is, how much word limits matter, and what to do if you aren't sure how long a specific essay should be.
How Long Is a College Essay? First, Check the Word Limit
You might be used to turning in your writing assignments on a page-limit basis (for example, a 10-page paper). While some colleges provide page limits for their college essays, most use a word limit instead. This makes sure there's a standard length for all the essays that a college receives, regardless of formatting or font.
In the simplest terms, your college essay should be pretty close to, but not exceeding, the word limit in length. Think within 50 words as the lower bound, with the word limit as the upper bound. So for a 500-word limit essay, try to get somewhere between 450-500 words. If they give you a range, stay within that range.
College essay prompts usually provide the word limit right in the prompt or in the instructions.
For example, the University of Illinois says :
"You'll answer two to three prompts as part of your application. The questions you'll answer will depend on whether you're applying to a major or to our undeclared program , and if you've selected a second choice . Each response should be approximately 150 words."
As exemplified by the University of Illinois, the shortest word limits for college essays are usually around 150 words (less than half a single-spaced page). Rarely will you see a word limit higher than around 650 words (over one single-spaced page). College essays are usually pretty short: between 150 and 650 words. Admissions officers have to read a lot of them, after all!
Weigh your words carefully, because they are limited!
How Flexible Is the Word Limit?
But how flexible is the word limit? What if your poignant anecdote is just 10 words too long—or 100 too short?
Can I Go Over the Word Limit?
If you are attaching a document and you need one or two extra words, you can probably get away with exceeding the word limit by such a small amount. Some colleges will actually tell you that exceeding the word limit by 1-2 words is fine. However, I advise against exceeding the word limit unless it's explicitly allowed for a few reasons:
First, you might not be able to. If you have to copy-paste it into a text box, your essay might get cut off and you'll have to trim down anyways.
If you exceed the word limit in a noticeable way, the admissions counselor may just stop reading your essay past that point. This is not good for you.
Following directions is actually a very important part of the college application process. You need to follow directions to get your letters of recommendation, upload your essays, send supplemental materials, get your test scores sent, and so on and so forth. So it's just a good general rule to follow whatever instructions you've been given by the institution. Better safe than sorry!
Can I Go Under the Word Limit?
If you can truly get your point across well beneath the word limit, it's probably fine. Brevity is not necessarily a bad thing in writing just so long as you are clear, cogent, and communicate what you want to.
However, most college essays have pretty tight word limits anyways. So if you're writing 300 words for an essay with a 500-word limit, ask yourself: is there anything more you could say to elaborate on or support your points? Consult with a parent, friend, or teacher on where you could elaborate with more detail or expand your points.
Also, if the college gives you a word range, you absolutely need to at least hit the bottom end of the range. So if you get a range from the institution, like 400-500 words, you need to write at least 400 words. If you write less, it will come across like you have nothing to say, which is not an impression you want to give.
Don't let this sinister hand stop you from writing everything you have to say!
What If There Is No Word Limit?
Some colleges don't give you a word limit for one or more of your essay prompts. This can be a little stressful, but the prompts generally fall into a few categories:
Some colleges don't provide a hard-and-fast word limit because they want a writing sample from one of your classes. In this case, a word limit would be very limiting to you in terms of which assignments you could select from.
For an example of this kind of prompt, check out essay Option B at Amherst :
"Submit a graded paper from your junior or senior year that best represents your writing skills and analytical abilities. We are particularly interested in your ability to construct a tightly reasoned, persuasive argument that calls upon literary, sociological or historical evidence. You should NOT submit a laboratory report, journal entry, creative writing sample or in-class essay."
While there is usually no word limit per se, colleges sometimes provide a general page guideline for writing samples. In the FAQ for Option B , Amherst clarifies, "There is no hard-and-fast rule for official page limit. Typically, we anticipate a paper of 4-5 pages will provide adequate length to demonstrate your analytical abilities. Somewhat longer papers can also be submitted, but in most cases should not exceed 8-10 pages."
So even though there's no word limit, they'd like somewhere in the 4-10 pages range. High school students are not usually writing papers that are longer than 10 pages anyways, so that isn't very limiting.
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Implicit Length Guideline
Sometimes, while there's no word (or even page) limit, there's still an implicit length guideline. What do I mean by this?
See, for example, this Wellesley supplemental essay prompt :
"When choosing a college community, you are choosing a place where you believe that you can live, learn, and flourish. Generations of inspiring women have thrived in the Wellesley community, and we want to know what aspects of this community inspire you to consider Wellesley. We know that there are more than 100 reasons to choose Wellesley, but the "Wellesley 100" is a good place to start. Visit The Wellesley 100 and let us know, in two well-developed paragraphs, which two items most attract, inspire, or energize you and why. (Not-so-secret tip: The "why" matters to us.)"
There's no page or word limit here, but it does say to respond "in two well-developed paragraphs." This gives you an idea of what's reasonable. "Well-developed" certainly means the paragraphs can be long, but even two long paragraphs shouldn't exceed 500 words or so. That's what I mean by an "implicit" word limit—there is a reasonable length you could go to within the boundaries of the prompt.
But what's the proper coffee-to-paragraph ratio?
There is also the classic "treasure hunt" prompt. No, it's not a prompt about a treasure hunt. It's a prompt where there are no length guidelines given, but if you hunt around on the rest of the website you can find length guidelines.
For example, the University of Chicago provides six "Extended Essay" prompts . You must write an essay in response to one prompt of your choosing, but nowhere on the page is there any guidance about word count or page limit.
However, many colleges provide additional details about their expectations for application materials, including essays, on FAQ pages, which is true of the University of Chicago. On the school’s admissions Frequently Asked Questions page , they provide the following length guidelines for the supplemental essays:
“We suggest that you note any word limits for Coalition or Common Application essays; however, there are no strict word limits on the UChicago Supplement essays. For the extended essay (where you choose one of several prompts), we suggest that you aim for around 650 words. While we won't, as a rule, stop reading after 650 words, we're only human and cannot promise that an overly wordy essay will hold our attention indefinitely. For the “Why UChicago?” essay, we suggest about 250-500 words. The ideas in your writing matter more than the exact number of words you use!”
So there you go! You want to be (loosely) in the realm of 650 for the extended essay, and 250-500 words for the “Why UChicago?” essay.
Help! There Really Is No Guidance on Length
If you really can't find any length guidelines anywhere on the admissions website and you're at a loss, I advise calling the admissions office. They may not be able to give you an exact number (in fact, they probably won't), but they will probably at least be able to tell you how long most of the essays they see are. (And keep you from writing a panicked, 20-page dissertation about your relationship with your dog).
In general, 500 words or so is pretty safe for a college essay. It's a fairly standard word limit length, in fact. (And if you're wondering, that's about a page and a half double-spaced.) 500 words is long enough to develop a basic idea while still getting a point across quickly—important when admissions counselors have thousands of essays to read!
"See? It says 500 words right there in tiny font!"
The Final Word: How Long Should a College Essay Be?
The best college essay length is usually pretty straightforward: you want to be right under or at the provided word limit. If you go substantially past the word limit, you risk having your essay cut off by an online application form or having the admissions officer just not finish it. And if you're too far under the word limit, you may not be elaborating enough.
What if there is no word limit? Then how long should a college essay be? In general, around 500 words is a pretty safe approximate word amount for a college essay—it's one of the most common word limits, after all!
Here's guidance for special cases and hunting down word limits:
If it's a writing sample of your graded academic work, the length either doesn't matter or there should be some loose page guidelines.
There also may be implicit length guidelines. For example, if a prompt says to write three paragraphs, you'll know that writing six sentences is definitely too short, and two single-spaced pages is definitely too long.
You might not be able to find length guidelines in the prompt, but you could still hunt them up elsewhere on the website. Try checking FAQs or googling your chosen school name with "admissions essay word limit."
If there really is no word limit, you can call the school to try to get some guidance.
With this advice, you can be sure you've got the right college essay length on lockdown!
Hey, writing about yourself can even be fun!
Need to ask a teacher or friend for help with your essay? See our do's and dont's to getting college essay advice .
If you're lacking in essay inspiration, see our guide to brainstorming college essay ideas . And here's our guide to starting out your essay perfectly!
Looking for college essay examples? See 11 places to find college essay examples and 145 essay examples with analysis !
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Ellen has extensive education mentorship experience and is deeply committed to helping students succeed in all areas of life. She received a BA from Harvard in Folklore and Mythology and is currently pursuing graduate studies at Columbia University.
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How Long Should a College Essay Be?
High school essays tend to require a page limit, but college essays tend to require a word count.
When it comes to college application essays, many colleges and universities specify a word count. Some expect one longer essay, while others expect responses to multiple prompts using a shorter word count for each answer. However, that’s not always the case. If your institution doesn’t provide a specific word count, it’s best to keep your essay between the length established by the longer college admissions essay format: 250 to 650 words .
Word count is just one factor to consider as you craft your college admissions essay. Let’s go over other considerations, like whether a longer essay makes a difference, and whether it’s acceptable to exceed the word count.
College essays: Word count vs. page limit
High school essays tend to require a page limit, meaning that your teachers might ask you to submit a five-page paper or an eight-paper paper. However, college essays tend to require a word count.
When a college provides you with a wide word count range, it’s best to take advantage of the upper word count limit. For example, if a college asks for an essay between 250-500 words, you should aim to craft a response that’s at least 400-450 words. You don’t need to hit the maximum length, but your essay should be well over half the word count.
College essays or personal statements are an opportunity for a college admissions committee to hear directly from you. It’s valuable space. Writing the bare minimum may not send the best message to the committee, and it may not help them learn more about who you are outside of your transcripts and general application.
Learn more: Step-by-Step Guide to Applying for College
How to measure your college essay's word count
Measuring your word count depends on which program you’re using to write your essay. Microsoft Word and Google Docs are two of the most common.
Microsoft Word: The page count is typically displayed on the bottom left of your screen. You can also click “Review” and then “Word count” to find how much you’ve written.
Google Docs: Under “Tools,” click on “Word count.” You can also highlight a portion of your text before clicking “word count” so you can determine the exact word count of that section.
Should you go over the word count?
Simply put, no. Do not go over the maximum word count. If there isn’t a preferred word count, submit an essay that’s under 650 words, according to the college application platform Common App, which works with over 900 colleges in the US [ 1 ].
Admissions officers are looking for well-written essays that follow directions. Officers review thousands of essays every year. In fact, the average college received 9,071 applications in 2020 [ 2 ]. Writing either a very short or a very long essay—ignoring the directions in either case—might send the wrong impression.
You can always start by writing a longer draft and then trimming the most unnecessary parts to tighten your essay and get it down to the preferred word count. This will help you include the most important information and get your point across in a concise way.
What length should supplemental college essays be?
Supplemental essays are additional prompts that some colleges and universities ask students to answer in addition to their personal statement or college essay. It's usually an opportunity to specify your interest in that particular school: Admissions committees may ask why you want to attend or what you want to study and why.
Schools can require, on average, at least two or three supplemental essays, while others have been known to ask for over ten. Most schools will provide specific instructions about the word count for supplemental essays. As with the college essay, stay within the range or limit, and write a focused response that incorporates some knowledge about the school.
How to format your college essay
As with word count, many institutions specify any formatting requirements, such as double-spacing (vs. single-spacing) your essay, and what font size you should use. (With general online application portals, such as Common App, the program will format your essay for you.)
Because a college essay is measured by word count rather than page length, writing in a larger font and using double-spaced formatting won’t affect the overall length of your essay, though it’s best to adhere to each college’s guidelines. Check if there are any parameters you need to follow for each application you submit.
4 tips for writing an effective college essay
No matter which essay prompt you choose, it’s important to take your time crafting your response, making sure every word adds to your story. Follow these tips to help your college essay stand out.
1. Be prepared to write a few drafts.
Your college essay should go through a few drafts before you share the final version with one of your peers or a professional for additional feedback. Take advantage of the rough draft phase by overwriting. Forget about your word count for a moment and let yourself go. Doing so may help you discover something new to say, or help you expand upon your original idea.
Make editing a separate process from the actual writing. As much as possible, write and then walk away for a period of time (a few hours or even a day). Return to your essay with fresh eyes and see if you can cut the essay, reduce the number of words you’re using, or find a more succinct or focused way to approach your response.
2. Answer the question and relate it to your unique story.
Your essay should both answer the prompt and convey who you are. You don’t need a dazzling, one-of-a-kind story to get an admissions officer’s attention. Your life is unique to you—only you have had your experiences.
Make sure that whatever you choose to write about is an authentic representation of who you are. Instead of comparing your essay to someone else in your class, work to make your response the best it can be for you. And as you focus your essay, go one step further by sharing what you’ve learned or how you’ve grown as a result. That kind of reflection can build more depth into your response.
3. Get specific.
When recounting an experience, incorporate creative writing to your personal statement. Use details to describe a situation and add a bit of color. Pick strong verbs and a few specific adjectives that correctly highlight the action and scene. Let’s compare these two examples:
1) When I got a musical instrument for my birthday, I wasn’t really sure I’d like it. Still, I figured I’d play it daily because I enjoy music. I got better, and soon I made band. I like that I get to go to all the school games.
2) When my mother surprised me with a clarinet for my 15th birthday, I wondered if I’d enjoy playing it. Over the summer, when my friends gathered outside to enjoy their time off, I practiced my scales every day in my room—and slowly improved. After that hard work and sacrifice, I was excited to earn a place in the marching band.
Both paragraphs recount the same memory, but the second one creates a more memorable picture.
4. Ask for feedback.
Once you feel as though you’ve developed a final draft, don’t rush to turn it in. Instead, ask one of your favorite teachers or a trusted friend or family member to read it. Ask for constructive feedback on ways to improve. Be prepared to make changes if something is unclear or if they think there’s a better way to phrase a section. But make sure you continue to write in your voice so the college gets to know who you are instead of someone else.
When you’re feeling confident, review your work one last time for grammar and spelling. Don’t let a small error override an otherwise thoughtful, engaging essay.
You may find it helpful to brush up on your creative writing skills so you can express yourself clearly and colorfully before applying to college. On Coursera, you can enroll in Wesleyan University’s Creative Writing specialization for free. Or you can find courses that can help you gain more knowledge of the college admissions process .
Your Guide to College Entrance Exams
How to Be Successful in College: 9 Tips
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1. Common App. “ Are There Word Limits? , https://appsupport.commonapp.org/s/article/are-there-word-limits-kudeoeos." Accessed February 11, 2022.
2. US News and World Report. “ 10 Colleges That Received the Most Applications , https://www.usnews.com/education/best-colleges/the-short-list-college/articles/colleges-that-received-the-most-applications." Accessed February 11, 2022.
This content has been made available for informational purposes only. Learners are advised to conduct additional research to ensure that courses and other credentials pursued meet their personal, professional, and financial goals.
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How Long is an Essay?
10 August, 2021
12 minutes read
Author: Donna Moores
Making sure that you stick to the recommended amount of words is important for your academic performance. Even the slightest deviation from requirements might reduce your grade. But why let such a nuisance spoil your mark when you can just know what word count for each specific essay type is? So, how long is an essay? This question seems to be the talk of the town among students. As all students know from experience, the higher the academic level and the more specific the study area is, the stricter the course requirements are and the longer the essay should be. In the following guide, we will discuss how essay length varies depending on the academic level and what to do to find out what a proper essay length should be.
Essay Length Tips
Try to stick to the 80/20 rule.
The 80/20 rule indicates that an essay should have the following structure: 80% of the text should be covered in the main body, and only 20% – in the introduction and conclusion. If you want to make sure that your text is easy to comprehend – make use of this rule. Structuring the paper in such a way makes sure that the reader does not lose the key idea of your essay.
Cover a single topic sentence in one body paragraph
Another valuable tip covers the composition of body paragraphs. Namely, keep in mind that each paragraph should reveal only one topic sentence, one point, and one argument. It is inappropriate to discuss two points in the same body paragraph since the whole essay loses its coherence this way. If you feel like you have some extra points to add, it is always better to create a new paragraph for this purpose.
Take spacing into account
Spacing plays an important role in assuring you follow the word count. For instance, a single-spaced page contains 550 words, while a double-spaced page contains 275 words respectively. So, according to the spacing you choose, you can always keep track of your word count. But to make sure you are as accurate as possible, you can always check the number of words right in Microsoft Word or Google Docs.
Five – this is the minimum required number of paragraphs
A basic paper structure requires five paragraphs, where three paragraphs belong to the main body part, and the other two cover introduction and conclusion. Keeping the outlined structure in mind always proves helpful, especially when it comes to sticking to a suggested word count.
Different Essay Length for Different Academic Levels
As a rule, a middle schooler is expected to write way less than a university student. Although the essay length often depends on the assignment type rather than academic level, the difference still exists. Below we will discuss what a recommended essay length for school and university essays is.
How Long is a Middle School Essay?
Middle school is where essay writing skills are being tested professionally. How long should a college essay be? Normally, essays length for middle school students varies between 500 and 1000 words. A typical middle school essay follows a well-known essay structure: introduction, body paragraphs, and summary (five paragraphs). Main body is usually the most informative part of a school essay and takes 80% of the word count. So if your teacher asks you to deliver a 1000-word essay, keep in mind that they expect you to write 800 words of main body text. But how long is a 500 word essay, for example? Well, this wordcount equals a page and a half. Based on this length, you can count the number of pages required for your essay.
How Long is a High School Essay?
There are several things that you, as a high schooler, might want to keep in mind. First of all, the essay structure remains exactly how it was in middle school. The only difference is that your tutor will expect a more profound analysis as well as a bigger essay length. Students need to show a more professional attitude to the topic and write approximately 2000 words for each essay.
How Long is a University (Undergraduate level) Essay
Apparently, the essay length will gradually extend as soon as you enter higher academic levels. At the university stage, students are challenged with complex subjects and are asked to reflect on the knowledge they gained during the course. Usually, Bachelor students write 5-10 page papers.
University essays imply demonstrating not only the knowledge and skills obtained during the course but also showing your writing skills. Students usually get long time frames to write such papers as they require research and extensive analysis.
If you are an undergraduate student, you may expect your professor to assign a couple of 1500 -word essays that explore a particular topic.
How Long is a University (Graduate level) Essay
A graduate level essay is similar to an undergraduate one. Although it often depends on the topic, university, and course, there are a lot of similarities between university essays for students of all academic levels. For a graduate-level student, the word count is somewhere between 3000 and 6000 words. However, courses that also imply other kinds of assignments, such as lab reports or practical exercises, might have looser essay length requirements.
Other requirements apply for those who are about to write their final dissertation or a master thesis. These are assignments that ask you to write 100,000 words or even more. For this type of assignment, you will be given a couple of months to research and write a paper.
How long is each part of an essay?
The length of each essay part usually depends on the general word count for the entire paper. How long is a 1000 word essay then? If the suggested essay length equals 1000 words, then you need to devote roughly 80% of the word count to the main body part, 10% for introduction, and 10% for a conclusion. However, if you are about to prepare a 10-page paper, this does not mean that final remarks and introduction should be proportionally big. Instead, it is always a plus when you keep your introduction short and up to the point. The same concerns the conclusion part. Always make sure you use only the most relevant information and avoid pouring water just to make the text look massive.
How to Manage Essay Word Count
Trying to achieve the suggested essay length might sometimes turn out to be quite a challenge. Here are some tips to make it easier for you:
Create an outline
Creating an outline before starting to write a final draft can do you good. First of all, having a clear plan indicates how many words you should write for each essay part. This approach will prevent you from extra editing work as well as give your text a transparent structure and message. You will get an idea of how to use the space that you have and avoid adding unnecessary information throughout the text.
Review the extant literature
To write better papers, it is always recommended to acknowledge the topic you’re working on. The reason why a lot of essays get poor grades is hidden in the insufficient topic understanding, so make sure you do solid research.
Make use of examples
Using examples in the text always proves to be a good idea. First, this approach enriches the text and gives it a lively tone. Additionally, referring to examples helps a lot when it comes to extending the word count. If you need to write 100 more words but have no idea of what to add – add examples! Also, you may include some facts, data, or basically any evidence.
Revise your paper
Revising proves helpful when it comes to reducing the essay length. If you wrote 1500 words instead of 1000 – simply review the text and search for the information which sounds extra. Once you take a fresh look at your essay, you will certainly find entire sentences that do not fit in or just don’t make a lot of sense.
Can I go under the suggested length?
Going under a suggested length isn’t a crime as long as you’re close to the suggested word count. In other words, it is fine to write 900 words if the suggested length is 1000, but writing less than 900 words might affect your grade. Nonetheless, we suggest that you try to get as close to the required word count as possible – your tutor will appreciate it. If you are struggling to extend your text, here is what you can do:
- Take a look at your essay points and try to provide more clarifications on their regard.
- Use new paragraphs to shed light on the problem but from a different perspective.
- Search for evidence and add it to body paragraphs.
Can I go over the suggested length?
As a rule, no one expects you to fit into exactly 500, 1000, or 2000 words. The standard acceptable deviation usually equals 10% of the text. This means that if the paper’s instructions ask you to write 2000 words, it will be fine if you go up to 2200 words.
However, this rule might not hold true in some cases, which is why we advise you to consult your professor on this matter.
We also recommend all students make the word count as close to the required one as possible. Exceeding the standard length always equals more time spent on evaluating the assignment, so try to compress your essay by using the following techniques:
- Check whether your arguments are in line with the thesis statement and don’t. hesitate to get rid of extra information.
- Make sure each body paragraph reveals one point only.
- Reduce sentence length so that each sentence fits in a single line.
What if there are no length guidelines?
It might be the case that your paper does not provide any writing instructions at all. In this case, you can manage the situation in several ways:
Simply search for the requirements online
If no strategy seems to work – just google it. You will easily find social media posts and forum answers on how to write a specific kind of essay. Besides, you can visit your chair’s website and look for essay length requirements there. It sometimes happens that professors don’t indicate any word count because the information about it is available on the website.
Make conclusions based on the paper description
Take a look at your essay instructions. If they say that you should write a paper with three brief body paragraphs, it means that each paragraph should equal 150-200 words. If the paper asks you to develop your ideas in well-developed paragraphs, you will certainly need to write at least 400 words for each.
If you aren’t sure – contact the administration
If you couldn’t find the information regarding world limits but still feel like it is important to stick to rules, get in touch with the admissions office. They might not tell you exactly how long your paper should be; but they will tell you what an average, acceptable word count is.
How Can Handmadewriting Help You?
If you’re having a hard time coming up with an optimal word count or just don’t know how to fit all your ideas into a single essay, we are glad to help! At Handmadewriting essay writer service, we care about your grades as much as we care about the quality of our service. If you need to write a small 500-word essay or a 10-page report, we can help you achieve your academic goals. Place your first order and explore all the benefits of college essay writing!
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College Essays That Worked: See Examples
Experts say a good college essay features a student's voice and personality.
Students should know themselves and write authoritatively so they can share a sense of their lives with admissions officers. (Getty Images)
Many college applications require a personal essay, which can be daunting for students to write.
But a few simple tips, some introspection and insight into what admissions officers are looking for can help ease the pressure. U.S. News has compiled several college essay examples that helped students get into school. Shared by admissions staff or referenced from admissions websites, these essays stand out, they say, because the student voices shine, helping the school get to know the applicants.
"Students can get caught in the trap of overthinking it and write the essay that's going to impress the admissions committee," says Andrew Strickler, dean of admission and financial aid at Connecticut College . "The best essays, the ones that really pop, are the ones that come across as authentic and you really hear the student's voice."
The essay gives schools a feel for how a student writes, but it's the content of the essay that matters most, admissions professionals say. In other words, while it's important to showcase sound grammar and writing, it's even more important to showcase your character and personality.
"I care more about their stories than if it is a perfect five paragraph essay," David Graves, interim director of admissions at the University of Georgia , wrote in an email.
Many schools give students a wide range of topics to choose from, which experts say can be beneficial in helping students find their voice.
While you want your voice to be apparent, it's wise to be aware of your tone, says Allen Koh, CEO of Cardinal Education, an admissions consulting company that works with students to craft and revise their college essays. The goal of the essay is to make a strong case for why you’re different from all the other applicants, not necessarily why you’re better, he adds.
"You have to pass the genuine likability test. Sometimes kids are so busy trying to brag or tell their story that they’re forgetting they have to sound like a likable person. That’s a very simple test, but it’s really important."
Good essays tend to be "positively emotional," he says. It's best to avoid using sarcasm because it tends to fail on college essays.
Any humor used "really has to be a very positive, witty humor, not sarcastic," which he says can be hard to pick up on in an essay.
The Perils of Using AI for Essays
Choosing the right tone can be a challenge for many students, but admissions pros encourage them not to take shortcuts to completing their essay.
Though some college professors have embraced artificial intelligence tools like ChatGPT in their classrooms, Strickler says he's begun to stress in recent talks with high school audiences the importance of original work and avoiding the use of AI tools like ChatGPT to craft college essays. While it might produce a technically well-written essay and save time, your unique voice will be stripped away, and it may leave a bad impression on admissions offices as well as prevent them from truly getting to know you, he says.
Instead, Graves says, start early and take time to write it yourself, then "actually read it out loud to someone ... to listen to the rhythm and words as they are 'read.'"
Each spring on his admissions blog , Graves shares an enrolling student's essay and why it was strong. The essay excerpted below, shared with the permission of the University of Georgia, uses descriptive word choice and gives the admissions office deep insight into the student's life, their love for writing and their connection to their family, Graves says.
It was chosen as an example "to show our applicant pool how to express themselves through similes, sensory language (words that capture the senses of the reader), and emotion," Graves wrote on the blog.
Here's how the essay opened:
If you asked me what object I’d save in a burning fire, I’d save my notebook. My notebook isn’t just any notebook, it’s bubble gum pink with purple tie dye swirls, and has gold coil binding it together. But more importantly, it’s the key that unlocked my superpower, sending me soaring into the sky, flying high above any problems that could ever catch me. However, my notebook is simply the key. My real power rests in the depths of my mind, in my passion for writing. But to know how my powers came to be (not from a spider or a special rock), I must travel back to the first spark.
Four years ago, I wrote my first 6-word memoir in my eighth-grade rhetoric class. Inspired by my father’s recently diagnosed terminal illness, I wrote “Take his words, don’t take him”. It was as if all the energy of my powers surged into six meaningful words meant to honor the man that I would soon lose to a villain known as ALS. This was the first time I felt my writing. Three years ago, my dad’s disease severely progressed. The ALS seized his ability to speak and locked it in a tower with no key. The only way we could communicate was with an old spiral notebook. ...
The essay counted down each year ("three years ago," "two years ago," etc.) and concluded with this paragraph:
One month ago, I needed my powers more than ever before. I needed them to convey who I truly am for the chance at the future of my dreams as a writer. Except this time, I didn’t need the key because my powers grew into fruition. Instead, I opened my laptop only to type out one sentence… “If you asked me what object to save in a burning fire, I’d save my notebook.”
This style of storytelling, which shows not just the triumph at the end but also the conflict, struggle and evolution in between, makes for great essays, Koh says.
"The student also used an intriguing timeline (counting down years and month) to tell their story, and showed how she had grown," Graves says.
This next essay, by an anonymous writer and shared on Connecticut College 's admissions page , "manages to capture multiple aspects of the writer's personality, while not becoming overly cluttered or confusing," writes Susanna Matthews, associate director of admission at the school.
Every person who truly knows me believes that I was born in the wrong century. They call me "an old soul" because I'm a collector, attracted to books, antiques, vinyl records and anything from the 80's. But they also think I am unique in other ways. I believe it is because of the meaningful connections to my two languages and two cultures.
When we moved into our first American house, I was excited to decorate my new room. The first thing I knew I needed was a place to organize my most cherished possessions I have collected throughout my life. I searched and finally found a bookshelf with twenty-five thick sections that I could build and organize alphabetically ... Each shelf holds important objects from different parts of my life. ...
These books are a strong connection to my Brazilian heritage. They also remind me of the time when I was growing up in Brazil, as a member of a large Italian-Brazilian family.
The writer continues on, describing the types of books on each shelf, from Harry Potter to books used to learn English. They describe the bottom of the bookshelf housing some of their most prized possessions, like an old typewriter their grandfather gave them. They wonder about the words it has crafted and stories it has told.
As I grab my favorite Elvis vinyl to play, I can only wonder about the next chapter of my life. I look forward to adding new books, new friends, and a wide variety of experiences to my bookshelf.
"By placing one subject (the bookshelf) at the center of the piece, it lends some flexibility to layer in much more detail than if they had tried to discuss a few different interests in the essay," Matthews writes. "You learn a lot about the person, in a way that isn't in your face – a great thing when trying to write a personal essay."
Some colleges require a supplemental essay in addition to the personal statement. Typically, admissions pros note, these essays are shorter and focus on answering a specific question posed by the college.
The University of Chicago in Illinois allows students to submit essay prompts as inspiration for the admissions office and gives students some latitude in how they answer them. Essay prompts range from questions about the school itself to asking students to pick a question from a song title or lyric and give their best shot at answering it.
"We think of them as an opportunity for students to tell us about themselves, their tastes, and their ambitions," the school's admissions website reads. "They can be approached with utter seriousness, complete fancy, or something in between."
While the University of Chicago says there is no strict word limit on its supplemental essays, other schools prefer brevity. For example, Stanford University in California asks students to answer several short questions, with a 50-word limit, in addition to answering three essay questions in 100 to 250 words.
Georgia asks for a school-specific supplemental essay that's 200-300 words in addition to a 250- to 650-word personal essay.
"Sometimes a shorter essay response is not as polished an essay, but instead is a more casual, more relaxed essay," Graves says. "In addition, sometimes a student needs to get to the point or be concise, and this helps see if they can give us their story without overdoing it."
Other schools allow for a little more creativity in how the supplemental essay questions are answered. Babson College in Massachusetts, for example, gives students a 500-word limit to answer a prompt, or they can choose to submit a one-minute video about why they chose to apply to the school.
One student, Gabrielle Alias, chose to film a "day-in-the-life" video , which she narrated to answer the prompt, "Who Am I?"
"Visiting campus twice, I know I could see myself as one of the many interesting, innovative, and enticing students that come out of Babson," she says in the video. "But who am I you ask? I am a student. I am a reader. I am a researcher. I am a music lover. ... I am Gabrielle Alias and I am excited for who I will be as a graduate of Babson."
An essay by Babson student Bessie Shiroki, seen below, describes her experience in the school's admissions office and how she immediately felt comfortable.
I immediately smiled at the sight of my favorite board game. Babsonopoly. I love the combination of strategy and luck in this traditional family pastime. Seeing this on the wall in the admissions office gave me immediate comfort; I knew I was home.
Shiroki describes what she felt set Babson College apart from other schools, such as being surrounded by "sophisticated and mature individuals" and a tight-knit, entrepreneurial environment that would help her reach her career goals.
It is natural for me to be in a small class where more than one language is spoken. I am accustomed to discussions with diverse viewpoints, open minds, and where differences are seen as advantages. I embrace my cultural uniqueness, and I will add my voice to the community. I can’t imagine not continuing this in college.
She notes that as she toured the campus and saw students studying, she could see herself as one of them, feeding off of their studious and entrepreneurial energy. She mentions that Babson's Foundations of Management and Entrepreneurship class got her attention immediately and she saw it as a launch pad for a future that included running a business.
Babson recognizes the potential of their students, and FME is a great way for young entrepreneurs like me to find our place in the business world and learn from our mistakes. I am capable of this challenge and will conquer it with tenacity. I will bring my dedication, commitment, and innovative skills to Babson College.
Now it’s my turn to pass go and collect my Babson acceptance letter. I’ve found my next challenge.
Babson College offers several tips for what make good essays, including a strong "hook" to engage the reader from the start and a topic that allows you to share something that's not as obvious on your application.
When it comes to writing a college admissions essay – whether personal or supplemental – experts advise students to follow these rules:
- Find your voice.
- Write about a topic that matters to you.
- Share your personality.
- Express yourself.
- Proofread extensively.
With both traditional essays and supplemental essays, Koh says it's best to write long and work with someone you trust to edit it down. Teachers, friends and parents can all be helpful proofreaders, but experts note that the student voice should remain intact.
A good editor can help edit a long essay to keep the main message but with fewer words. “If I see 400 words, I know I’m a dozen drafts away from getting it to 650,” he says. “If I see 1200 words, we might just be one or two away. It’s at least going to be a shorter haul.”
Strickler encourages students not to stress too much over the essay or put unnecessary weight on it as part of their college application . While a strong essay helps, he says, it doesn't make or break an application.
"There's this sense that you write the most amazing essay and it gets you over the top because it opens the door to the pathway to the Magic Kingdom," he says. "But it's just one piece of a myriad of pieces that allow us to get to know a particular student and help us figure out if they're a good fit and how they're going to contribute to our community."
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Issues For College And Finding Success
How Much Writing Will You Do As A College Undergrad?
One element considered by the National Survey of Student Engagement , an annual survey done at 1,300 4-year colleges every year, looks at the type of work that college freshmen and seniors do.
The recent survey found that first-year students, on average, wrote 92 pages during the academic year, while seniors wrote 146 pages. For freshmen, the majority of these papers were around 5 to 10 pages, with some first-year students writing papers 20 pages or more. When considering majors, students in the social sciences, arts, and humanities wrote much more than other students, such as those majoring in physical or biological sciences.
The upside of all this writing? Students who wrote more were more achieved higher levels of deep learning, student-faculty interaction, and were otherwise more “engaged” in their own learning process. Student “engagement” is associated with higher levels of satisfaction as a student, and therefore increases a student’s odds of continuing his or her education.
From working with students directly for many years at large and small colleges, as well as public and private ones, I can give you a better idea of what to expect beyond the report.
College Writing is a universally required course at colleges in the U.S. Whether they call it Writing and Rhetoric, Freshman Writing, or College Composition, it’s all the same course. Some colleges require only a first level of college writing for all students, but some actually require two levels. You won’t make it through college in the U.S. without taking at least one college level writing course. Expect to write several smaller essays, 4 to 5 pages, or even one longer paper depending on how the Professor structures the course. Other English classes usually have writing, even literature classes, so expect to write analyses, critiques, responses, and in other formats.
Biology And Other Sciences
Biology, Chemistry, and other natural sciences typically have a lot of reading, homework, lab work, and problem sets yet very little writing. However, if you are taking a lab with the lecture, you may have to write lab reports or pre-lab/post-lab reports. This kind of writing is very concrete and specific, and usually will include writing about the methods or procedures used for an experiment, the results of various levels of lab testing, as well as to state the results of a lab experiment. Some lab reports may actually be in a lab notebook, so rather than typing them on the computer, you may need to hand write them if they are a worksheet.
Psychology And Behavioral Sciences
Formats for Psychology, Anthropology, Sociology, and other behavioral sciences classes are usually straight forward. Readings, lecture, multiple choice exams, or even quizzes are the standard, but also common are research papers. Some Professors assign a classic “term paper,” which is due at the end of the term, that requires a student to delve deeply in to a subject. On average, expect these papers to be 10 to 15 pages, with 7-12 references needed, and due either near finals or during that week. The trick with these kinds of research papers is to ask about the details early since choosing a topic and finding academic journal references can take much longer than most think.
History, Philosophy, And Humanities Courses
In contrast to the science-based writing that natural and behavioral sciences may require, writing for the humanities may be somewhat “softer” in that they may require a more subtle interpretation of the material. Identifying themes, describing historical events, examining different theorists, or other tasks are common in writing for History, Philosophy, and similar classes. Expect to write compare and contrast essays, position papers, reaction papers, and in other formats for such classes.
Art History classes are usually wonderful, enjoyable classes to take, but they often surprise students by the huge volumes of information that come with them. What fits perfectly with such a class is a term paper, in which students delve deeply in to a topic (only in this case a non-science one). The architecture of the pyramids, Greek and Roman style use, or a timeline of the works of Picasso are all probable topics for a paper in Art History. Again, expect 10 to 15 pages long, with 5 to 10 references needed, and due at the end of the term.
Courses Without Writing
Thankfully, for those who do not like writing, there are courses that by design have no writing. Mathematics courses such as College Algebra, classes like Microeconomics or Macroeconomics, and Computer Science usually mean no writing. Unfortunately, Professors make up for this by assigning tons of homework, usually in the form of problem sets. Some of these classes may have end of term projects (vs. papers), especially Computer Science, so you won’t quite escape those end of term deadlines even though there is no writing.
Writing Intensive Requirements
Some colleges have a subset of their overall graduation requirements or curriculum that requires a number of writing intensive courses. While it is not universal for schools across the U.S., some will specify that the student must take two to four writing intensive classes before they can graduate. These need not be all English classes, and classes in humanities, behavioral science, or other areas may be designated as writing intensive. The school’s website or your Advisor can provide you with a list of these classes that are designated as writing intensive, and they are often indicated as such when you register for classes.
For students in the U.S. it’s hard to get away from doing writing if you want to go to college. The amount and types of writing can vary by class, and some majors should expect to do more writing than others. If you are an English, History, or Philosophy major, expect writing to be the core of what you do for classes, but certainly not if you choose Computer Science, Mathematics, or Economics. If you don’t like writing be thankful that you’re going to school in the U.S., since Canadian and European systems can have so much writing that they say they “wrote” their midterms and finals. Some students would rather take a good old fashioned quiz or test any day over that.
If you have questions feel free to use the contact form to ask us.
Jeffrey Ludovici, M.A., is a national-level higher education consultant based in Pittsburgh. He has worked with students, families, colleges, and other professionals for more than 10 years. He specializes in understanding why students can end up doing poorly in college, as well as what can be done to address the issues.
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College Essays: How Long Should They Be?
Lead admissions expert, table of contents, your best foot forward, what about supplemental college essays.
Stay up-to-date on the latest research and college admissions trends with our blog team.
Looking for how long college essays are ? We’ve got a few tips for you. Read on to learn how many words you should include in your college essays.
When preparing for college applications, putting your best foot forward is key. A place where you get to really be yourself is in the college essay. However, this piece tends to stump many students and can cause anxiety that can impact your overall application. Have you ever found yourself wondering how many words college essays have? You’re definitely not alone, but we wanted to share with you some tips today to help clarify some questions you may have about college essays—and, in specific, how long a college essay should be exactly.
Remember that the word count is different from what you might be used to when it comes to your high school papers, so having questions is okay! While you may be familiar with page count when it comes to writing, word count is different—all you need to do is pay attention to the number of words you are able to submit in your essay. Additionally, instead of being scared of word count, use it as a helpful tool when developing your storyline or narrative and when coming up with ideas during the brainstorming process (we’ll dive more into this in a bit.). For now, let’s take a deep dive into how long college essays are typically and what you should pay attention to when you begin drafting your own.
How long should a main college essay be?
When it comes to how long a college essay should be , you might find yourself wondering how much you should typically write. Well, main essays usually have a word-count range between 500-600 words or less, so it’s important to keep this in mind when coming up with topics to write about and/or choosing prompts that fit your story best. (For instance, applications like the Common App will typically have a cut-off of around 650 words!)
Admissions officers, when reviewing your application, want to learn about the highlights of your achievements, your ability to persevere, as well as who you are both as a student and as an individual, but don’t have a ton of time to do so given the large number of applications submitted during a typical admissions cycle. Given this, it’s important to stick to the 500-600 word count limit when crafting your personal statement and ensure that what you do include should showcase the best of who you are and what you’ve achieved during high school.
Something to keep in mind:
If you end up writing too little, it could work against you during the admissions process. Admissions officers look for students who can stick to the instructions and are mindful of this while preparing their pieces for their application submission. For that reason, we highly recommend trying to stick to the higher end of the essay limit (around 500 words or so at minimum), as it will 1) Give you more of an opportunity to thoroughly develop your narrative and 2) show the readers that you have taken time to show your dedication and your due diligence when sharing your story.
When creating the drafts of your college essays, try to write a lot more at the beginning of the process. This can allow you to work through your answers and narrow your responses down to the statements that truly matter. While you may have difficulty brainstorming meaningful topics to connect to the prompts, you’ll find that once you start writing, it can be hard to stop yourself during the process! This is great for the first few drafts, but be sure to review these a few times and ask your friends, family, and even teachers if there are sentences that could be clearer and where you could add to or take away from the narrative.
If you’ve previewed any supplemental essays before, you’ll notice they’re typically about half of the length of main application essays. These are normally more focused questions and have about eight main topics they typically fall into:
- the “why” essay,
- the intended choice of major essay,
- the “describe an extracurricular” essay,
- the community essay,
- the intellectual essay,
- the short and sweet essay,
- and the imaginative essay.
While these may differ slightly based on the school and/or even the specific major you’re applying to, generally, one of these topics can be found on most applications requiring the submission of supplemental essays.
So, how long should these college essays be?
Supplemental essay questions will usually ask for a word count range of around 20-650 words, depending on what is being asked, so be sure to review the question and truly understand what is required of you.
When it comes to an extracurricular-focused essay, for example, these will likely ask for a more in-depth and longer response, so you’ll have more room to go into detail about the different extracurricular activities you participated in and the impact you were able to make while you participated. On the other hand, imaginative essays like Stanford’s “How did you spend your last two summers?” question only provide 50 words or less to describe something meaningful you were able to accomplish.
These essays tend to trip students quite often, so be sure to really think long and hard about something specific you would like to talk about and narrow your drafts down to the true essence of this past time or activity. This is your time to truly show the best of your story and who you are as a person to the admissions committee, so take your time and make it count!
I’m applying to the UCs, so what about personal statements?
When it comes to the University of California (or UCs for short) personal insight questions, there’s a specific set of questions already available for you to review online! As noted on the website, there are eight prompts to choose from, although you are only asked to respond to four. When it comes to the length of these responses, you only have a maximum of 350 words to work from per response, so it is important to make sure to include everything you need in a concise and clear manner to make the most out of these short-answer questions.
While many of the questions may connect with your own personal story, some may not. With this in mind, be sure to take the time to work through the list of available questions and weigh every one to make sure you’ll be able to make the word count matter as much as possible in your answer. Try to pick questions you’ll be able to answer as sincerely as possible, and you’ll likely find that answering these questions within the word count may become harder than you think! Once you develop drafts, try to narrow down the words you have so your point comes across clearly and concisely and ensures you are getting your point across as efficiently as possible.
How can word counts help me in my drafts?
Now you may be thinking, how can using word counts help me better develop my essays? As we’ve sprinkled throughout, there are various ways to use word count as a tool to help guide you along the essay writing process.
First and foremost, word counts provide a bit of a guideline for how to approach your essays and how much content you should incorporate into each response. While at first, you’ll find yourself writing quite a lot with some topics, shortening your responses can help ensure your storyline flows well, is as concise as possible, and removes unnecessary tangents you may find yourself following during the brainstorming process. Additionally, being mindful of the target word count when you begin the drafting process will allow you to plan your writing accordingly and should help make the process seem a bit less daunting. – Bear in mind word count when picking something to write!
What about if I’m not given a word count?
While most of the time you’ll receive a range of word counts to follow when crafting your personal essays, some schools may not provide a word count at all. In this case, it is recommended that you should stick to around 400 to 600 words for your response to make the most out of the prompt without creating too long of a narrative. Again, remember that your readers are reading thousands of other applications during the admissions cycle, so making your essay stick concisely is key to making your student profile stand out from the competition!
Now that you have a clearer idea of how many words are in a college essay , it’s time to put this into effect. If you’re looking for more guidance in writing your admissions essays or editing them, Empowerly ’s team of experts is here to help you every step of the way. Your story matters, so it’s important to put your best foot forward when preparing for the next stage of your academic journey. It’s your chance to show the admissions committee the best of who you are, and we’ll be here to support you at each step along the way.
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12 Strategies to Writing the Perfect College Essay
College admission committees sift through thousands of college essays each year. Here’s how to make yours stand out.
When it comes to deciding who they will admit into their programs, colleges consider many criteria, including high school grades, extracurricular activities, and ACT and SAT scores. But in recent years, more colleges are no longer considering test scores.
Instead, many (including Harvard through 2026) are opting for “test-blind” admission policies that give more weight to other elements in a college application. This policy change is seen as fairer to students who don’t have the means or access to testing, or who suffer from test anxiety.
So, what does this mean for you?
Simply that your college essay, traditionally a requirement of any college application, is more important than ever.
A college essay is your unique opportunity to introduce yourself to admissions committees who must comb through thousands of applications each year. It is your chance to stand out as someone worthy of a seat in that classroom.
A well-written and thoughtful essay—reflecting who you are and what you believe—can go a long way to separating your application from the slew of forgettable ones that admissions officers read. Indeed, officers may rely on them even more now that many colleges are not considering test scores.
Below we’ll discuss a few strategies you can use to help your essay stand out from the pack. We’ll touch on how to start your essay, what you should write for your college essay, and elements that make for a great college essay.
More than any other consideration, you should choose a topic or point of view that is consistent with who you truly are.
Readers can sense when writers are inauthentic.
Inauthenticity could mean the use of overly flowery language that no one would ever use in conversation, or it could mean choosing an inconsequential topic that reveals very little about who you are.
Use your own voice, sense of humor, and a natural way of speaking.
Whatever subject you choose, make sure it’s something that’s genuinely important to you and not a subject you’ve chosen just to impress. You can write about a specific experience, hobby, or personality quirk that illustrates your strengths, but also feel free to write about your weaknesses.
Honesty about traits, situations, or a childhood background that you are working to improve may resonate with the reader more strongly than a glib victory speech.
Grab the Reader From the Start
You’ll be competing with so many other applicants for an admission officer’s attention.
Therefore, start your essay with an opening sentence or paragraph that immediately seizes the imagination. This might be a bold statement, a thoughtful quote, a question you pose, or a descriptive scene.
Starting your essay in a powerful way with a clear thesis statement can often help you along in the writing process. If your task is to tell a good story, a bold beginning can be a natural prelude to getting there, serving as a roadmap, engaging the reader from the start, and presenting the purpose of your writing.
Focus on Deeper Themes
Some essay writers think they will impress committees by loading an essay with facts, figures, and descriptions of activities, like wins in sports or descriptions of volunteer work. But that’s not the point.
College admissions officers are interested in learning more about who you are as a person and what makes you tick.
They want to know what has brought you to this stage in life. They want to read about realizations you may have come to through adversity as well as your successes, not just about how many games you won while on the soccer team or how many people you served at a soup kitchen.
Let the reader know how winning the soccer game helped you develop as a person, friend, family member, or leader. Make a connection with your soup kitchen volunteerism and how it may have inspired your educational journey and future aspirations. What did you discover about yourself?
Show Don’t Tell
As you expand on whatever theme you’ve decided to explore in your essay, remember to show, don’t tell.
The most engaging writing “shows” by setting scenes and providing anecdotes, rather than just providing a list of accomplishments and activities.
Reciting a list of activities is also boring. An admissions officer will want to know about the arc of your emotional journey too.
Try Doing Something Different
If you want your essay to stand out, think about approaching your subject from an entirely new perspective. While many students might choose to write about their wins, for instance, what if you wrote an essay about what you learned from all your losses?
If you are an especially talented writer, you might play with the element of surprise by crafting an essay that leaves the response to a question to the very last sentence.
You may want to stay away from well-worn themes entirely, like a sports-related obstacle or success, volunteer stories, immigration stories, moving, a summary of personal achievements or overcoming obstacles.
However, such themes are popular for a reason. They represent the totality of most people’s lives coming out of high school. Therefore, it may be less important to stay away from these topics than to take a fresh approach.
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Write With the Reader in Mind
Writing for the reader means building a clear and logical argument in which one thought flows naturally from another.
Use transitions between paragraphs.
Think about any information you may have left out that the reader may need to know. Are there ideas you have included that do not help illustrate your theme?
Be sure you can answer questions such as: Does what you have written make sense? Is the essay organized? Does the opening grab the reader? Is there a strong ending? Have you given enough background information? Is it wordy?
Write Several Drafts
Set your essay aside for a few days and come back to it after you’ve had some time to forget what you’ve written. Often, you’ll discover you have a whole new perspective that enhances your ability to make revisions.
Start writing months before your essay is due to give yourself enough time to write multiple drafts. A good time to start could be as early as the summer before your senior year when homework and extracurricular activities take up less time.
Read It Aloud
Writer’s tip : Reading your essay aloud can instantly uncover passages that sound clumsy, long-winded, or false.
If you’ve mentioned an activity, story, or anecdote in some other part of your application, don’t repeat it again in your essay.
Your essay should tell college admissions officers something new. Whatever you write in your essay should be in philosophical alignment with the rest of your application.
Also, be sure you’ve answered whatever question or prompt may have been posed to you at the outset.
Ask Others to Read Your Essay
Be sure the people you ask to read your essay represent different demographic groups—a teacher, a parent, even a younger sister or brother.
Ask each reader what they took from the essay and listen closely to what they have to say. If anyone expresses confusion, revise until the confusion is cleared up.
Pay Attention to Form
Although there are often no strict word limits for college essays, most essays are shorter rather than longer. Common App, which students can use to submit to multiple colleges, suggests that essays stay at about 650 words.
“While we won’t as a rule stop reading after 650 words, we cannot promise that an overly wordy essay will hold our attention for as long as you’d hoped it would,” the Common App website states.
In reviewing other technical aspects of your essay, be sure that the font is readable, that the margins are properly spaced, that any dialogue is set off properly, and that there is enough spacing at the top. Your essay should look clean and inviting to readers.
End Your Essay With a “Kicker”
In journalism, a kicker is the last punchy line, paragraph, or section that brings everything together.
It provides a lasting impression that leaves the reader satisfied and impressed by the points you have artfully woven throughout your piece.
So, here’s our kicker: Be concise and coherent, engage in honest self-reflection, and include vivid details and anecdotes that deftly illustrate your point.
While writing a fantastic essay may not guarantee you get selected, it can tip the balance in your favor if admissions officers are considering a candidate with a similar GPA and background.
Write, revise, revise again, and good luck!
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Course: college admissions > unit 4.
- Writing a strong college admissions essay
- Avoiding common admissions essay mistakes
- Brainstorming tips for your college essay
- How formal should the tone of your college essay be?
- Taking your college essay to the next level
- Sample essay 1 with admissions feedback
- Sample essay 2 with admissions feedback
- Student story: Admissions essay about a formative experience
- Student story: Admissions essay about personal identity
- Student story: Admissions essay about community impact
- Student story: Admissions essay about a past mistake
- Student story: Admissions essay about a meaningful poem
Writing tips and techniques for your college essay
Pose a question the reader wants answered, don't focus exclusively on the past, experiment with the unexpected, don't summarize, want to join the conversation.
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1.3 Becoming a Successful College Writer
- Identify strategies for successful writing.
- Demonstrate comprehensive writing skills.
- Identify writing strategies for use in future classes.
In the preceding sections, you learned what you can expect from college and identified strategies you can use to manage your work. These strategies will help you succeed in any college course. This section covers more about how to handle the demands college places upon you as a writer. The general techniques you will learn will help ensure your success on any writing task, whether you complete a bluebook exam in an hour or an in-depth research project over several weeks.
Putting It All Together: Strategies for Success
Writing well is difficult. Even people who write for a living sometimes struggle to get their thoughts on the page. Even people who generally enjoy writing have days when they would rather do anything else. For people who do not like writing or do not think of themselves as good writers, writing assignments can be stressful or even intimidating. And of course, you cannot get through college without having to write—sometimes a lot, and often at a higher level than you are used to.
No magic formula will make writing quick and easy. However, you can use strategies and resources to manage writing assignments more easily. This section presents a broad overview of these strategies and resources. The remaining chapters of this book provide more detailed, comprehensive instruction to help you succeed at a variety of assignments. College will challenge you as a writer, but it is also a unique opportunity to grow.
Using the Writing Process
To complete a writing project successfully, good writers use some variation of the following process.
The Writing Process
- Prewriting. In this step, the writer generates ideas to write about and begins developing these ideas.
- Outlining a structure of ideas. In this step, the writer determines the overall organizational structure of the writing and creates an outline to organize ideas. Usually this step involves some additional fleshing out of the ideas generated in the first step.
- Writing a rough draft. In this step, the writer uses the work completed in prewriting to develop a first draft. The draft covers the ideas the writer brainstormed and follows the organizational plan that was laid out in the first step.
- Revising. In this step, the writer revisits the draft to review and, if necessary, reshape its content. This stage involves moderate and sometimes major changes: adding or deleting a paragraph, phrasing the main point differently, expanding on an important idea, reorganizing content, and so forth.
- Editing. In this step, the writer reviews the draft to make additional changes. Editing involves making changes to improve style and adherence to standard writing conventions—for instance, replacing a vague word with a more precise one or fixing errors in grammar and spelling. Once this stage is complete, the work is a finished piece and ready to share with others.
Chances are, you have already used this process as a writer. You may also have used it for other types of creative projects, such as developing a sketch into a finished painting or composing a song. The steps listed above apply broadly to any project that involves creative thinking. You come up with ideas (often vague at first), you work to give them some structure, you make a first attempt, you figure out what needs improving, and then you refine it until you are satisfied.
Most people have used this creative process in one way or another, but many people have misconceptions about how to use it to write. Here are a few of the most common misconceptions students have about the writing process:
- “I do not have to waste time on prewriting if I understand the assignment.” Even if the task is straightforward and you feel ready to start writing, take some time to develop ideas before you plunge into your draft. Freewriting —writing about the topic without stopping for a set period of time—is one prewriting technique you might try in that situation.
- “It is important to complete a formal, numbered outline for every writing assignment.” For some assignments, such as lengthy research papers, proceeding without a formal outline can be very difficult. However, for other assignments, a structured set of notes or a detailed graphic organizer may suffice. The important thing is that you have a solid plan for organizing ideas and details.
- “My draft will be better if I write it when I am feeling inspired.” By all means, take advantage of those moments of inspiration. However, understand that sometimes you will have to write when you are not in the mood. Sit down and start your draft even if you do not feel like it. If necessary, force yourself to write for just one hour. By the end of the hour, you may be far more engaged and motivated to continue. If not, at least you will have accomplished part of the task.
- “My instructor will tell me everything I need to revise.” If your instructor chooses to review drafts, the feedback can help you improve. However, it is still your job, not your instructor’s, to transform the draft to a final, polished piece. That task will be much easier if you give your best effort to the draft before submitting it. During revision, do not just go through and implement your instructor’s corrections. Take time to determine what you can change to make the work the best it can be.
- “I am a good writer, so I do not need to revise or edit.” Even talented writers still need to revise and edit their work. At the very least, doing so will help you catch an embarrassing typo or two. Revising and editing are the steps that make good writers into great writers.
For a more thorough explanation of the steps of the writing process as well as for specific techniques you can use for each step, see Chapter 8 “The Writing Process: How Do I Begin?” .
The writing process also applies to timed writing tasks, such as essay exams. Before you begin writing, read the question thoroughly and think about the main points to include in your response. Use scrap paper to sketch out a very brief outline. Keep an eye on the clock as you write your response so you will have time to review it and make any needed changes before turning in your exam.
Managing Your Time
In Section 1.2 “Developing Study Skills” , you learned general time-management skills. By combining those skills with what you have learned about the writing process, you can make any writing assignment easier to manage.
When your instructor gives you a writing assignment, write the due date on your calendar. Then work backward from the due date to set aside blocks of time when you will work on the assignment. Always plan at least two sessions of writing time per assignment, so that you are not trying to move from step 1 to step 5 in one evening. Trying to work that fast is stressful, and it does not yield great results. You will plan better, think better, and write better if you space out the steps.
Ideally, you should set aside at least three separate blocks of time to work on a writing assignment: one for prewriting and outlining, one for drafting, and one for revising and editing. Sometimes those steps may be compressed into just a few days. If you have a couple of weeks to work on a paper, space out the five steps over multiple sessions. Long-term projects, such as research papers, require more time for each step.
In certain situations you may not be able to allow time between the different steps of the writing process. For instance, you may be asked to write in class or complete a brief response paper overnight. If the time available is very limited, apply a modified version of the writing process (as you would do for an essay exam). It is still important to give the assignment thought and effort. However, these types of assignments are less formal, and instructors may not expect them to be as polished as formal papers. When in doubt, ask the instructor about expectations, resources that will be available during the writing exam, and if they have any tips to prepare you to effectively demonstrate your writing skills.
Each Monday in Crystal’s Foundations of Education class, the instructor distributed copies of a current news article on education and assigned students to write a one-and-one-half- to two-page response that was due the following Monday. Together, these weekly assignments counted for 20 percent of the course grade. Although each response took just a few hours to complete, Crystal found that she learned more from the reading and got better grades on her writing if she spread the work out in the following way:
For more detailed guidelines on how to plan for a long-term writing project, see Chapter 11 “Writing from Research: What Will I Learn?” .
One key to succeeding as a student and as a writer is setting both short- and long-term goals for yourself. You have already glimpsed the kind of short-term goals a student might set. Crystal wanted to do well in her Foundations of Education course, and she realized that she could control how she handled her weekly writing assignments. At 20 percent of her course grade, she reasoned, those assignments might mean the difference between a C and a B or between a B and an A.
By planning carefully and following through on her daily and weekly goals, Crystal was able to fulfill one of her goals for the semester. Although her exam scores were not as high as she had hoped, her consistently strong performance on writing assignments tipped her grade from a B+ to an A−. She was pleased to have earned a high grade in one of the required courses for her major. She was also glad to have gotten the most out of an introductory course that would help her become an effective teacher.
How does Crystal’s experience relate to your own college experience?
To do well in college, it is important to stay focused on how your day-to-day actions determine your long-term success. You may not have defined your career goals or chosen a major yet. Even so, you surely have some overarching goals for what you want out of college: to expand your career options, to increase your earning power, or just to learn something new. In time, you will define your long-term goals more explicitly. Doing solid, steady work, day by day and week by week, will help you meet those goals.
In this exercise, make connections between short- and long-term goals.
- For this step, identify one long-term goal you would like to have achieved by the time you complete your degree. For instance, you might want a particular job in your field or hope to graduate with honors.
- Next, identify one semester goal that will help you fulfill the goal you set in step one. For instance, you may want to do well in a particular course or establish a connection with a professional in your field.
- Review the goal you determined in step two. Brainstorm a list of stepping stones that will help you meet that goal, such as “doing well on my midterm and final exams” or “talking to Professor Gibson about doing an internship.” Write down everything you can think of that would help you meet that semester goal.
- Review your list. Choose two to three items, and for each item identify at least one concrete action you can take to accomplish it. These actions may be recurring (meeting with a study group each week) or one time only (calling the professor in charge of internships).
- Identify one action from step four that you can do today. Then do it.
Using College Resources
One reason students sometimes find college overwhelming is that they do not know about, or are reluctant to use, the resources available to them. Some aspects of college will be challenging. However, if you try to handle every challenge alone, you may become frustrated and overwhelmed.
Universities have resources in place to help students cope with challenges. Your student fees help pay for resources such as a health center or tutoring, so use these resources if you need them. The following are some of the resources you might use if you find you need help:
- Your instructor. If you are making an honest effort but still struggling with a particular course, set up a time to meet with your instructor and discuss what you can do to improve. He or she may be able to shed light on a confusing concept or give you strategies to catch up.
- Your academic counselor. Many universities assign students an academic counselor who can help you choose courses and ensure that you fulfill degree and major requirements.
- The academic resource center. These centers offer a variety of services, which may range from general coaching in study skills to tutoring for specific courses. Find out what is offered at your school and use the services that you need.
- The writing center. These centers employ tutors to help you manage college-level writing assignments. They will not write or edit your paper for you, but they can help you through the stages of the writing process. (In some schools, the writing center is part of the academic resource center.)
- The career resource center. Visit the career resource center for guidance in choosing a career path, developing a résumé, and finding and applying for jobs.
- Counseling services. Many universities offer psychological counseling for free or for a low fee. Use these services if you need help coping with a difficult personal situation or managing depression, anxiety, or other problems.
Students sometimes neglect to use available resources due to limited time, unwillingness to admit there is a problem, or embarrassment about needing to ask for help. Unfortunately, ignoring a problem usually makes it harder to cope with later on. Waiting until the end of the semester may also mean fewer resources are available, since many other students are also seeking last-minute help.
Identify at least one college resource that you think could be helpful to you and you would like to investigate further. Schedule a time to visit this resource within the next week or two so you can use it throughout the semester.
Overview: College Writing Skills
You now have a solid foundation of skills and strategies you can use to succeed in college. The remainder of this book will provide you with guidance on specific aspects of writing, ranging from grammar and style conventions to how to write a research paper.
For any college writing assignment, use these strategies:
- Plan ahead. Divide the work into smaller, manageable tasks, and set aside time to accomplish each task in turn.
- Make sure you understand the assignment requirements, and if necessary, clarify them with your instructor. Think carefully about the purpose of the writing, the intended audience, the topics you will need to address, and any specific requirements of the writing form.
- Complete each step of the writing process. With practice, using this process will come automatically to you.
- Use the resources available to you. Remember that most colleges have specific services to help students with their writing.
For help with specific writing assignments and guidance on different aspects of writing, you may refer to the other chapters in this book. The table of contents lists topics in detail. As a general overview, the following paragraphs discuss what you will learn in the upcoming chapters.
Chapter 2 “Writing Basics: What Makes a Good Sentence?” through Chapter 7 “Refining Your Writing: How Do I Improve My Writing Technique?” will ground you in writing basics: the “nuts and bolts” of grammar, sentence structure, and paragraph development that you need to master to produce competent college-level writing. Chapter 2 “Writing Basics: What Makes a Good Sentence?” reviews the parts of speech and the components of a sentence. Chapter 3 “Punctuation” explains how to use punctuation correctly. Chapter 4 “Working with Words: Which Word Is Right?” reviews concepts that will help you use words correctly, including everything from commonly confused words to using context clues.
Chapter 5 “Help for English Language Learners” provides guidance for students who have learned English as a second language. Then, Chapter 6 “Writing Paragraphs: Separating Ideas and Shaping Content” guides you through the process of developing a paragraph while Chapter 7 “Refining Your Writing: How Do I Improve My Writing Technique?” has tips to help you refine and improve your sentences.
Chapter 8 “The Writing Process: How Do I Begin?” through Chapter 10 “Rhetorical Modes” are geared to help you apply those basics to college-level writing assignments. Chapter 8 “The Writing Process: How Do I Begin?” shows the writing process in action with explanations and examples of techniques you can use during each step of the process. Chapter 9 “Writing Essays: From Start to Finish” provides further discussion of the components of college essays—how to create and support a thesis and how to organize an essay effectively. Chapter 10 “Rhetorical Modes” discusses specific modes of writing you will encounter as a college student and explains how to approach these different assignments.
Chapter 11 “Writing from Research: What Will I Learn?” through Chapter 14 “Creating Presentations: Sharing Your Ideas” focus on how to write a research paper. Chapter 11 “Writing from Research: What Will I Learn?” guides students through the process of conducting research, while Chapter 12 “Writing a Research Paper” explains how to transform that research into a finished paper. Chapter 13 “APA and MLA Documentation and Formatting” explains how to format your paper and use a standard system for documenting sources. Finally, Chapter 14 “Creating Presentations: Sharing Your Ideas” discusses how to transform your paper into an effective presentation.
Many of the chapters in this book include sample student writing—not just the finished essays but also the preliminary steps that went into developing those essays. Chapter 15 “Readings: Examples of Essays” of this book provides additional examples of different essay types.
- Following the steps of the writing process helps students complete any writing assignment more successfully.
- To manage writing assignments, it is best to work backward from the due date, allotting appropriate time to complete each step of the writing process.
- Setting concrete long- and short-term goals helps students stay focused and motivated.
- A variety of university resources are available to help students with writing and with other aspects of college life.
Writing for Success Copyright © 2015 by University of Minnesota is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License , except where otherwise noted.
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How to Write a Personal Essay for Your College Application
What does it take to land in the “accept” (instead of “reject”) pile?
How can you write an essay that helps advance you in the eyes of the admissions officers and makes a real impression? Here are some tips to get you started.
- Start early. Do not leave it until the last minute. Give yourself time when you don’t have other homework or extracurriculars hanging over your head to work on the essay.
- Keep the focus narrow. Your essay does not have to cover a massive, earth-shattering event. Some people in their teens haven’t experienced a major life event. Some people have. Either way, it’s okay.
- Be yourself. Whether writing about a painful experience or a more simple experience, use the narrative to be vulnerable and honest about who you are. Use words you would normally use. Trust your voice and the fact that your story is interesting enough in that no one else has lived it.
- Be creative. “Show, don’t tell,” and that applies here — to an extent. The best essays typically do both. You can help your reader see and feel what you are describing by using some figurative language throughout your piece.
- Make a point. As you finish your final body paragraphs ask yourself “So what?” This will help you hone in on how to end your essay in a way that elevates it into a story about an insight or discovery you made about yourself, rather than just being about an experience you had.
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We’ve all heard about the dreaded “college essay,” the bane of every high school senior’s existence. This daunting element of the college application is something that can create angst for even the most accomplished students.
- AA Amy Allen is a writer, educator, and lifelong learner. Her freelance writing business, All of the Write Words , focuses on providing high school students with one-on-one feedback to guide them through the college application process and with crafting a thoughtful personal essay. A dedicated poet, Amy’s work has also been published in several journals including Pine Row Press , Months to Years, and Atlanta Review .
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- College Essay Examples | What Works and What Doesn’t
College Essay Examples | What Works and What Doesn't
Published on November 8, 2021 by Kirsten Courault . Revised on August 14, 2023.
One effective method for improving your college essay is to read example essays . Here are three sample essays, each with a bad and good version to help you improve your own essay.
Table of contents
Essay 1: sharing an identity or background through a montage, essay 2: overcoming a challenge, a sports injury narrative, essay 3: showing the influence of an important person or thing, other interesting articles, frequently asked questions about college application essays.
This essay uses a montage structure to show snapshots of a student’s identity and background. The writer builds her essay around the theme of the five senses, sharing memories she associates with sight, sound, smell, touch, and taste.
In the weak rough draft, there is little connection between the individual anecdotes, and they do not robustly demonstrate the student’s qualities.
In the final version, the student uses an extended metaphor of a museum to create a strong connection among her stories, each showcasing a different part of her identity. She draws a specific personal insight from each memory and uses the stories to demonstrate her qualities and values.
How My Five Senses Record My Life
Throughout my life, I have kept a record of my life’s journey with my five senses. This collection of memories matters a great deal because I experience life every day through the lens of my identity.
My classmate pulls one eye up and the other down.
“Look what my parents did to me!”
No matter how many times he repeats it, the other kids keep laughing. I focus my almond-shaped eyes on the ground, careful not to attract attention to my discomfort, anger, and shame. How could he say such a mean thing about me? What did I do to him? Joseph’s words would engrave themselves into my memory, making me question my appearance every time I saw my eyes in the mirror.
Soaking in overflowing bubble baths with Andrew Lloyd Webber belting from the boombox.
Listening to “Cell Block Tango” with my grandparents while eating filet mignon at a dine-in show in Ashland.
Singing “The Worst Pies in London” at a Korean karaoke club while laughing hysterically with my brother, who can do an eerily spot-on rendition of Sweeney Todd.
Taking car rides with Mom in the Toyota Sequoia as we compete to hit the high note in “Think of Me” from The Phantom of the Opera . Neither of us stands a chance!
The sweet scent of vegetables, Chinese noodles, and sushi wafts through the room as we sit around the table. My grandma presents a good-smelling mixture of international cuisine for our Thanksgiving feast. My favorite is the Chinese food that she cooks. Only the family prayer stands between me and the chance to indulge in these delicious morsels, comforting me with their familiar savory scents.
I rinse a faded plastic plate decorated by my younger sister at the Waterworks Art Center. I wear yellow rubber gloves to protect my hands at Mom’s insistence, but I can still feel the warm water that offers a bit of comfort as I finish the task at hand. The crusted casserole dish with stubborn remnants from my dad’s five-layer lasagna requires extra effort, so I fill it with Dawn and scalding water, setting it aside to soak. I actually don’t mind this daily chore.
I taste sweat on my upper lip as I fight to continue pedaling on a stationary bike. Ava’s next to me and tells me to go up a level. We’re biking buddies, dieting buddies, and Saturday morning carbo-load buddies. After the bike display hits 30 minutes, we do a five-minute cool down, drink Gatorade, and put our legs up to rest.
My five senses are always gathering new memories of my identity. I’m excited to expand my collection.
Word count: 455
College essay checklist
Topic and structure
- I’ve selected a topic that’s meaningful to me.
- My essay reveals something different from the rest of my application.
- I have a clear and well-structured narrative.
- I’ve concluded with an insight or a creative ending.
Writing style and tone
- I’ve crafted an introduction containing vivid imagery or an intriguing hook that grabs the reader’s attention.
- I’ve written my essay in a way that shows instead of tells.
- I’ve used appropriate style and tone for a college essay.
- I’ve used specific, vivid personal stories that would be hard to replicate.
- I’ve demonstrated my positive traits and values in my essay.
- My essay is focused on me, not another person or thing.
- I’ve included self-reflection and insight in my essay.
- I’ve respected the word count , remaining within 10% of the upper word limit.
Making Sense of My Identity
Welcome to The Rose Arimoto Museum. You are about to enter the “Making Sense of My Identity” collection. Allow me to guide you through select exhibits, carefully curated memories from Rose’s sensory experiences.
First, the Sight Exhibit.
“Look what my parents did to me!”
No matter how many times he repeats it, the other kids keep laughing. I focus my almond-shaped eyes on the ground, careful not to attract attention as my lip trembles and palms sweat. Joseph couldn’t have known how his words would engrave themselves into my memory, making me question my appearance every time I saw my eyes in the mirror.
Ten years later, these same eyes now fixate on an InDesign layout sheet, searching for grammar errors while my friend Selena proofreads our feature piece on racial discrimination in our hometown. As we’re the school newspaper editors, our journalism teacher Ms. Riley allows us to stay until midnight to meet tomorrow’s deadline. She commends our work ethic, which for me is fueled by writing一my new weapon of choice.
Next, you’ll encounter the Sound Exhibit.
Still, the world is my Broadway as I find my voice on stage.
Just below, enter the Smell Exhibit.
While I help my Pau Pau prepare dinner, she divulges her recipe for cha siu bau, with its soft, pillowy white exterior hiding the fragrant filling of braised barbecue pork inside. The sweet scent of candied yams, fun see , and Spam musubi wafts through the room as we gather around our Thankgsiving feast. After our family prayer, we indulge in these delicious morsels until our bellies say stop. These savory scents of my family’s cultural heritage linger long after I’ve finished the last bite.
Next up, the Touch Exhibit.
I rinse a handmade mug that I had painstakingly molded and painted in ceramics class. I wear yellow rubber gloves to protect my hands at Mom’s insistence, but I can still feel the warm water that offers a bit of comfort as I finish the task at hand. The crusted casserole dish with stubborn remnants from my dad’s five-layer lasagna requires extra effort, so I fill it with Dawn and scalding water, setting it aside to soak. For a few fleeting moments, as I continue my nightly chore, the pressure of my weekend job, tomorrow’s calculus exam, and next week’s track meet are washed away.
Finally, we end with the Taste Exhibit.
My legs fight to keep pace with the stationary bike as the salty taste of sweat seeps into corners of my mouth. Ava challenges me to take it up a level. We always train together一even keeping each other accountable on our strict protein diet of chicken breasts, broccoli, and Muscle Milk. We occasionally splurge on Saturday mornings after interval training, relishing the decadence of everything bagels smeared with raspberry walnut cream cheese. But this is Wednesday, so I push myself. I know that once the digital display hits 30:00, we’ll allow our legs to relax into a five-minute cool down, followed by the fiery tang of Fruit Punch Gatorade to rehydrate.
Thank you for your attention. This completes our tour. I invite you to rejoin us for next fall’s College Experience collection, which will exhibit Rose’s continual search for identity and learning.
Word count: 649
- I’ve crafted an essay introduction containing vivid imagery or an intriguing hook that grabs the reader’s attention.
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This essay uses a narrative structure to recount how a student overcame a challenge, specifically a sports injury. Since this topic is often overused, the essay requires vivid description, a memorable introduction and conclusion , and interesting insight.
The weak rough draft contains an interesting narrative, insight, and vivid imagery, but it has an overly formal tone that distracts the reader from the story. The student’s use of elaborate vocabulary in every sentence makes the essay sound inauthentic and stilted.
The final essay uses a more natural, conversational tone and chooses words that are vivid and specific without being pretentious. This allows the reader to focus on the narrative and appreciate the student’s unique insight.
One fateful evening some months ago, a defensive linebacker mauled me, his 212 pounds indisputably alighting upon my ankle. Ergo, an abhorrent cracking of calcified tissue. At first light the next day, I awoke cognizant of a new paradigm—one sans football—promulgated by a stabbing sensation that would continue to haunt me every morning of this semester.
It’s been an exceedingly taxing semester not being able to engage in football, but I am nonetheless excelling in school. That twist of fate never would have come to pass if I hadn’t broken my ankle. I still limp down the halls at school, but I’m feeling less maudlin these days. My friends don’t steer clear anymore, and I have a lot more of them. My teachers, emboldened by my newfound interest in learning, continually invite me to learn more and do my best. Football is still on hold, but I feel like I’m finally playing a game that matters.
Five months ago, right after my ill-fated injury, my friends’ demeanor became icy and remote, although I couldn’t fathom why. My teachers, in contrast, beckoned me close and invited me on a new learning journey. But despite their indubitably kind advances, even they recoiled when I drew near.
A few weeks later, I started to change my attitude vis-à-vis my newfound situation and determined to put my energy toward productive ends (i.e., homework). I wasn’t enamored with school. I never had been. Nevertheless, I didn’t abhor it either. I just preferred football.
My true turn of fate came when I started studying more and participating in class. I started to enjoy history class, and I grew interested in reading more. I discovered a volume of poems written by a fellow adventurer on the road of life, and I loved it. I ravenously devoured everything in the writer’s oeuvre .
As the weeks flitted past, I found myself spending my time with a group of people who were quite different from me. They participated in theater and played instruments in marching band. They raised their hands in class when the teacher posed a question. Because of their auspicious influence, I started raising my hand too. I am no longer vapid, and I now have something to say.
I am certain that your school would benefit from my miraculous academic transformation, and I entreat you to consider my application to your fine institution. Accepting me to your university would be an unequivocally righteous decision.
Word count: 408
- I’ve chosen a college essay topic that’s meaningful to me.
- I’ve respected the essay word count , remaining within 10% of the upper word limit.
As I step out of bed, the pain shoots through my foot and up my leg like it has every morning since “the game.” That night, a defensive linebacker tackled me, his 212 pounds landing decidedly on my ankle. I heard the sound before I felt it. The next morning, I awoke to a new reality—one without football—announced by a stabbing sensation that would continue to haunt me every morning of this semester.
My broken ankle broke my spirit.
My friends steered clear of me as I hobbled down the halls at school. My teachers tried to find the delicate balance between giving me space and offering me help. I was as unsure how to deal with myself as they were.
In time, I figured out how to redirect some of my frustration, anger, and pent-up energy toward my studies. I had never not liked school, but I had never really liked it either. In my mind, football practice was my real-life classroom, where I could learn all I ever needed to know.
Then there was that day in Mrs. Brady’s history class. We sang a ridiculous-sounding mnemonic song to memorize all the Chinese dynasties from Shang to Qing. I mumbled the words at first, but I got caught up in the middle of the laughter and began singing along. Starting that day, I began browsing YouTube videos about history, curious to learn more. I had started learning something new, and, to my surprise, I liked it.
With my afternoons free from burpees and scrimmages, I dared to crack open a few more of my books to see what was in them. That’s when my English poetry book, Paint Me Like I Am , caught my attention. It was full of poems written by students my age from WritersCorps. I couldn’t get enough.
I wasn’t the only one who was taken with the poems. Previously, I’d only been vaguely aware of Christina as one of the weird kids I avoided. Crammed in the margins of her high-top Chuck Taylors were scribbled lines of her own poetry and infinite doodles. Beyond her punk rock persona was a sensitive artist, puppy-lover, and environmental activist that a wide receiver like me would have never noticed before.
With Christina, I started making friends with people who once would have been invisible to me: drama geeks, teachers’ pets, band nerds. Most were college bound but not to play a sport. They were smart and talented, and they cared about people and politics and all sorts of issues that I hadn’t considered before. Strangely, they also seemed to care about me.
I still limp down the halls at school, but I don’t seem to mind as much these days. My friends don’t steer clear anymore, and I have a lot more of them. My teachers, excited by my newfound interest in learning, continually invite me to learn more and do my best. Football is still on hold, but I feel like I’m finally playing a game that matters.
My broken ankle broke my spirit. Then, it broke my ignorance.
Word count: 512
This essay uses a narrative structure to show how a pet positively influenced the student’s values and character.
In the weak draft, the student doesn’t focus on himself, instead delving into too much detail about his dog’s positive traits and his grandma’s illness. The essay’s structure is meandering, with tangents and details that don’t communicate any specific insight.
In the improved version, the student keeps the focus on himself, not his pet. He chooses the most relevant stories to demonstrate specific qualities, and the structure more clearly builds up to an insightful conclusion.
Man’s Best Friend
I desperately wanted a cat. I begged my parents for one, but once again, my sisters overruled me, so we drove up the Thompson Valley Canyon from Loveland to Estes Park to meet our newest family member. My sisters had already hatched their master plan, complete with a Finding Nemo blanket to entice the pups. The blanket was a hit with all of them, except for one—the one who walked over and sat in my lap. That was the day that Francisco became a Villanova.
Maybe I should say he was mine because I got stuck with all the chores. As expected, my dog-loving sisters were nowhere to be found! My mom was “extra” with all the doggy gear. Cisco even had to wear these silly little puppy shoes outside so that when he came back in, he wouldn’t get the carpets dirty. If it was raining, my mother insisted I dress Cisco in a ridiculous yellow raincoat, but, in my opinion, it was an unnecessary source of humiliation for poor Cisco. It didn’t take long for Cisco to decide that his outerwear could be used as toys in a game of Keep Away. As soon as I took off one of his shoes, he would run away with it, hiding under the bed where I couldn’t reach him. But, he seemed to appreciate his ensemble more when we had to walk through snowdrifts to get his job done.
When my abuela was dying from cancer, we went in the middle of the night to see her before she passed. I was sad and scared. But, my dad let me take Cisco in the car, so Cisco cuddled with me and made me feel much better. It’s like he could read my mind. Once we arrived at the hospital, the fluorescent lighting made the entire scene seem unreal, as if I was watching the scene unfold through someone else’s eyes. My grandma lay calmly on her bed, smiling at us even through her last moments of pain. I disliked seeing the tubes and machines hooked up to her. It was unnatural to see her like this一it was so unlike the way I usually saw her beautiful in her flowery dress, whistling a Billie Holiday tune and baking snickerdoodle cookies in the kitchen. The hospital didn’t usually allow dogs, but they made a special exception to respect my grandma’s last wishes that the whole family be together. Cisco remained at the foot of the bed, intently watching abuela with a silence that seemed more effective at communicating comfort and compassion than the rest of us who attempted to offer up words of comfort that just seemed hollow and insincere. It was then that I truly appreciated Cisco’s empathy for others.
As I accompanied my dad to pick up our dry cleaner’s from Ms. Chapman, a family friend asked, “How’s Cisco?” before even asking about my sisters or me. Cisco is the Villanova family mascot, a Goldendoodle better recognized by strangers throughout Loveland than the individual members of my family.
On our summer trip to Boyd Lake State Park, we stayed at the Cottonwood campground for a breathtaking view of the lake. Cisco was allowed to come, but we had to keep him on a leash at all times. After a satisfying meal of fish, our entire family walked along the beach. Cisco and I led the way while my mom and sisters shuffled behind. Cisco always stopped and refused to move, looking back to make sure the others were still following. Once satisfied that everyone was together, he would turn back around and continue prancing with his golden boy curly locks waving in the chilly wind.
On the beach, Cisco “accidentally” got let off his leash and went running maniacally around the sand, unfettered and free. His pure joy as he raced through the sand made me forget about my AP Chem exam or my student council responsibilities. He brings a smile not only to my family members but everyone around him.
Cisco won’t live forever, but without words, he has impressed upon me life lessons of responsibility, compassion, loyalty, and joy. I can’t imagine life without him.
Word count: 701
I quickly figured out that as “the chosen one,” I had been enlisted by Cisco to oversee all aspects of his “business.” I learned to put on Cisco’s doggie shoes to keep the carpet clean before taking him out一no matter the weather. Soon after, Cisco decided that his shoes could be used as toys in a game of Keep Away. As soon as I removed one of his shoes, he would run away with it, hiding under the bed where I couldn’t reach him. But, he seemed to appreciate his footwear more after I’d gear him up and we’d tread through the snow for his daily walks.
One morning, it was 7:15 a.m., and Alejandro was late again to pick me up. “Cisco, you don’t think he overslept again, do you?” Cisco barked, as if saying, “Of course he did!” A text message would never do, so I called his dad, even if it was going to get him in trouble. There was no use in both of us getting another tardy during our first-period class, especially since I was ready on time after taking Cisco for his morning outing. Alejandro was mad at me but not too much. He knew I had helped him out, even if he had to endure his dad’s lecture on punctuality.
Another early morning, I heard my sister yell, “Mom! Where are my good ballet flats? I can’t find them anywhere!” I hesitated and then confessed, “I moved them.” She shrieked at me in disbelief, but I continued, “I put them in your closet, so Cisco wouldn’t chew them up.” More disbelief. However, this time, there was silence instead of shrieking.
Last spring, Cisco and I were fast asleep when the phone rang at midnight. Abuela would not make it through the night after a long year of chemo, but she was in Pueblo, almost three hours away. Sitting next to me for that long car ride on I-25 in pitch-black darkness, Cisco knew exactly what I needed and snuggled right next to me as I petted his coat in a rhythm while tears streamed down my face. The hospital didn’t usually allow dogs, but they made a special exception to respect my grandma’s last wishes that the whole family be together. Cisco remained sitting at the foot of the hospital bed, intently watching abuela with a silence that communicated more comfort than our hollow words. Since then, whenever I sense someone is upset, I sit in silence with them or listen to their words, just like Cisco did.
The other day, one of my friends told me, “You’re a strange one, Josue. You’re not like everybody else but in a good way.” I didn’t know what he meant at first. “You know, you’re super responsible and grown-up. You look out for us instead of yourself. Nobody else does that.” I was a bit surprised because I wasn’t trying to do anything different. I was just being me. But then I realized who had taught me: a fluffy little puppy who I had wished was a cat! I didn’t choose Cisco, but he certainly chose me and, unexpectedly, became my teacher, mentor, and friend.
Word count: 617
If you want to know more about academic writing , effective communication , or parts of speech , make sure to check out some of our other articles with explanations and examples.
- Writing process
- Transition words
- Passive voice
- How to end an email
- Ms, mrs, miss
- How to start an email
- I hope this email finds you well
- Hope you are doing well
Parts of speech
- Personal pronouns
A standout college essay has several key ingredients:
- A unique, personally meaningful topic
- A memorable introduction with vivid imagery or an intriguing hook
- Specific stories and language that show instead of telling
- Vulnerability that’s authentic but not aimed at soliciting sympathy
- Clear writing in an appropriate style and tone
- A conclusion that offers deep insight or a creative ending
There are no set rules for how to structure a college application essay , but these are two common structures that work:
- A montage structure, a series of vignettes with a common theme.
- A narrative structure, a single story that shows your personal growth or how you overcame a challenge.
Avoid the five-paragraph essay structure that you learned in high school.
Though admissions officers are interested in hearing your story, they’re also interested in how you tell it. An exceptionally written essay will differentiate you from other applicants, meaning that admissions officers will spend more time reading it.
You can use literary devices to catch your reader’s attention and enrich your storytelling; however, focus on using just a few devices well, rather than trying to use as many as possible.
Most importantly, your essay should be about you , not another person or thing. An insightful college admissions essay requires deep self-reflection, authenticity, and a balance between confidence and vulnerability.
Your essay shouldn’t be a résumé of your experiences but instead should tell a story that demonstrates your most important values and qualities.
When revising your college essay , first check for big-picture issues regarding message, flow, tone, style , and clarity. Then, focus on eliminating grammar and punctuation errors.
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A 1300 on the SAT (or 29 on the ACT) is a high score, one that can open a path to America’s top public and private colleges. But new data, on students who graduated in the 2010s, shows just a sliver of the country’s poorest students reached that level.
Test takers whose families were in the top 20 percent of earners were seven times as likely as those in the bottom 20 to score at least 1300.
But the gap was even larger for the children of the richest 1 percent. They were 13 times as likely as the poorest students to score this high.
Those in the top 0.1 percent, whose parents earned an average of $11 million (in today’s dollars), scored higher still.
When we account for how few poor students take the test, by looking at all students, a new and greater disparity emerges.
It’s a reflection of an inequality in American education that starts long before high school.
New SAT Data Highlights the Deep Inequality at the Heart of American Education
By Claire Cain Miller Graphics by Francesca Paris Oct. 23, 2023
New data shows, for the first time at this level of detail, how much students’ standardized test scores rise with their parents’ incomes — and how disparities start years before students sit for tests.
One-third of the children of the very richest families scored a 1300 or higher on the SAT, while less than 5 percent of middle-class students did, according to the data, from economists at Opportunity Insights, based at Harvard. Relatively few children in the poorest families scored that high; just one in five took the test at all.
The researchers matched all students’ SAT and ACT scores for 2011, 2013 and 2015 with their parents’ federal income tax records for the prior six years. Their analysis , which also included admissions and attendance records, found that children from very rich families are overrepresented at elite colleges for many reasons, including that admissions offices give them preference . But the test score data highlights a more fundamental reason: When it comes to the types of achievement colleges assess, the children of the rich are simply better prepared.
The disparity highlights the inequality at the heart of American education: Starting very early, children from rich and poor families receive vastly different educations, in and out of school , driven by differences in the amount of money and time their parents are able to invest. And in the last five decades, as the country has become more unequal by income, the gap in children’s academic achievement, as measured by test scores throughout schooling, has widened.
“Kids in disadvantaged neighborhoods end up behind the starting line even when they get to kindergarten,” said Sean Reardon, the professor of poverty and inequality in education at the Stanford Graduate School of Education.
“On average,” he added, “our schools aren’t very good at undoing that damage.”
In the wake of the Supreme Court decision ending race-based affirmative action, there has been revived political momentum to address the ways in which many colleges favor the children of rich and white families, such as legacy admissions, preferences for private school students, athletic recruitment in certain sports and standardized tests.
Yet these things reflect the difference in children’s opportunities long before they apply for college, Professor Reardon said. To address the deeper inequality in education, he said, “it’s 18 years too late.”
The children of the top 0.1 percent, whose parents earned an average of $11.3 million a year in today’s dollars, got far better scores than even the children of the families just below them, the new data shows. For the 12,000 students in this group, opportunities that drive achievement were amplified — exclusive private schools, summers traveling the world and college prep services that cost more than college itself — said John N. Friedman, an economist at Brown, who analyzed the new data with Raj Chetty and David J. Deming of Harvard.
SAT score distribution by parent income
Source: Opportunity Insights and Chetty, Deming, Friedman (2023) . Based on SAT and ACT scores from students who were on track to graduate high school in 2011, 2013 or 2015 and their parents’ tax records. (ACT scores were converted into equivalent SAT scores.)
But the larger inequality is between the children of the merely rich and those below them. As class differences have grown more extreme, and a college degree has become more crucial to achieving a middle-class lifestyle or better, it has bred competition among parents anxious about their children’s futures.
“People are kind of jockeying to get into the school district that they think is going to be most beneficial for their kid,” said Ann Owens, a professor of sociology at the University of Southern California, who studies inequality in education. “A lot of this is driven by rising income inequality. When people have more money to spend on stuff, they’re spending it on moving to an affluent neighborhood, or buying their kids test prep and tutors and all these things they think will help them.”
Research shows that the more funding schools get, the better students do . Instead of schools being financed with varying amounts of money based on property taxes, most states now spend the same amount per student, or more for students in low-income schools. The bigger disparities are now among states.
But as differences in school funding have shrunk, differences in other resources in children’s lives have grown. Children are increasingly likely to live and attend schools in neighborhoods of concentrated poverty or affluence. Since the mid-1990s, neighborhoods have become more segregated by income — but only for families raising children , Professor Owens found. As school districts become more segregated, achievement gaps grow larger, she found .
Schools in poor neighborhoods have been shown to have a harder time attracting and retaining the best teachers. Also, these schools’ financial needs are greater — they may need to spend money on getting students to grade level or repairing buildings, while richer schools can spend it on things like arts teachers or field trips.
Rich parents are more likely to have the time and connections to be highly involved in their schools — volunteering in classrooms, lobbying on behalf of the school and raising money through school foundations.
The goals and experiences of the people in their neighborhood rub off on children, too. Friendships that cut across class have a bigger effect on children’s outcomes than school quality, previous research by Professor Chetty and colleagues found. Segregated neighborhoods make these friendships harder to find.
Differences in academic performance by race have shrunk in the last 50 years, Professor Reardon has shown . But Black and Hispanic families are disproportionately likely to live in poor neighborhoods, even compared with white families who earn similar incomes, and their children are more likely to attend high-poverty schools. White families are more likely to live in affluent districts and to choose mostly white schools . Yet it is income segregation, not race, that is the driver of achievement gaps, research shows .
“Black, Hispanic, Native American kids attend lower-income schools,” Professor Owens said. “It’s not that sitting next to a white kid is magical. It’s money in schools.”
The differences among schools are less important than what happens outside of school , a variety of research suggests — what children do in the evenings and on summer breaks , their parents’ vocabularies, and the level of stress in their home lives. Although the heritability of cognitive ability appears to play some role on an individual level, there is also a lot of evidence that environment matters.
“K-12 schools only manage 10 percent of children’s time, and they do it pretty equitably,” said Nate G. Hilger, author of “ The Parent Trap : How to Stop Overloading Parents and Fix Our Inequality Crisis” and an economist. “The other 90 percent of nonschool time — early childhood, after school, summer, private extracurriculars, counseling, tutoring, coaching, therapy, health management — masks all the most important inequality of opportunity.”
The disparities in education start early: Children from poor and rich families arrive at kindergarten with very different levels of readiness.
Drew Angerer for The New York Times
It starts early: High-income children are more likely to have attended preschool. Before kindergarten, the average cognitive scores for the children of the highest-earning families are 60 percent above the scores of the lowest earners. The early advantage continues: Children who attend high-quality preschools have been shown to have higher chances of taking the SAT and going to college .
Parents have embraced what researchers call intensive parenting — the idea that parents should immerse children in constant learning. Half a century ago, rich and poor parents spent about the same amount of time with their children. Now high-income parents spend more one-on-one time with them , doing activities like reading — what Robert Putnam, the political scientist who wrote “ Our Kids: The American Dream in Crisis ,” calls “‘Goodnight Moon’ time.”
The share of money rich parents spend on their children is also increasing — especially in places where inequality is worse. Test prep for the SATs is just one example of what researchers call “ shadow education .” Throughout children’s lives, parents who can afford it pay for extracurricular and cultural activities to enrich their children’s education outside school .
Poor families have more stressors , like food insecurity and frequent moves, that have been shown to have long-term effects on children’s academic performance. They also affect parents.
“Parents, regardless of race, nationality, income, they have big dreams for their kids, they want them to do well in school,” Professor Reardon said. “But if you’re worried about whether there’s food on the table and the heat’s on in winter, it’s very hard to make sure you set aside an hour before bedtime to read to your kids.”
Closing the gap
By the time rich children take the SAT, researchers speculate, experiences like bedtime reading, museum visits and science summer camps may contribute to their scores: “They’ve gone to better schools, they’ve read more novels, they’ve learned more math,” said Jesse Rothstein, a professor of public policy and economics at the University of California, Berkeley.
If the SAT is, in a sense, a wealth test , education research suggests that is a symptom of the problem, not the cause. Other parts of college applications, like essays and letters of recommendation, are also influenced by socioeconomic background. And data suggests that children with high SAT scores are more prepared for demanding college coursework, and more likely to have high earnings or prestigious jobs in adulthood.
The solution, researchers say, is addressing achievement gaps much earlier, through things like universal pre-K, increased funding for schools in low-income neighborhoods, and reduced residential segregation.
It could benefit all parents and students, even wealthier ones. Parenting in highly unequal societies is intense and competitive , driven by fear of the increasing risk that children will be worse off than their parents. Parenting in places with less income inequality and more public investment in families is more playful and relaxed , research shows. When the risk of falling is smaller, a college admissions test becomes less fraught.
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A corrigendum on empowering chinese college students in english as a foreign language writing classes: translanguaging with translation methods.
- 1 School of Foreign Studies, China Univeristy of Petroleum (East China), China
This article is a correction to:
Empowering Chinese college students in English as a foreign language writing classes: Translanguaging with translation methods Read original article
The final, formatted version of the article will be published soon.
Regarding Question 2 "At which stage of writing an essay do you think you used translation the most? task examining, idea generating, idea organising, textgenerating, text revising or process controlling? In what way dd the translation help you in each stage of your essay writing?", in its second sentence, the first letter of "task" should be capitalized. Meanwhile, there should be a hyphen in words(compounds) "task examining", "idea generating", "idea organizing", "text generating", "text revising" and "process controlling" respectively, as was added in the main body of its text. In addition, "organising" in this sentence was spelled as "organizing" in its main body, the two spellings were different from each other. The same word should be spelled consistently. The correct question statement appears below. "Task-examining, idea-generating, idea-organizing, text-generating, text-revising or processcontrolling?"In the last sentence "In what way dd the translation help you in each stage of your essay writing?" of Question 2, there was a spelling error in "dd". A letter "i" should be added to "dd". The correct question statement is as follows."In what way did the translation help you in each stage of your essay writing?" With regard to the translation of this sentence (the last sentence of Question 2) "对你写作文有什 么帮助?", 天"the translation" and "in each stage of" were omitted in the process of English-Chinese translation. They should be added to the translated text. The correct translation appears below. "翻译在你写作文的每个阶段对你有什么帮助?"In the Chinese translation "你觉得翻译对你的写作兴趣有提升吗? 为什们?" of Question 4 "Do you think the translation method improved your interest in writing English essays? Why or why not?", the last Chinese character "们" was a typo. It should be replaced by "么". The correct translation appears below. "你觉得翻译对你的写作兴趣有提升吗?为什么?"The Chinese translation "你对使用翻译上英文作文课有什么建议?" of Question 5 was not in accordance with its English version "Do you have any suggestions about how to use the translation in English essay writing?". The word "class" should be added to the end of the question. The correct question statement is as follows. "Do you have any suggestions about how to use the translation in English essay writing class?"
Keywords: empower, Chinese college students, EFL writing, Writing performance, Translation methods
Received: 15 Oct 2023; Accepted: 16 Oct 2023.
Copyright: © 2023 Xiong. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY) . The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) or licensor are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.
* Correspondence: Ms. Xiaoqin Xiong, School of Foreign Studies, China Univeristy of Petroleum (East China), Qingdao, Shandong Province, China
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MasterClass review: Here's how it works, what it's like to use, and the best celebrity-led classes to take
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Who better to learn acting from than Helen Mirren , get in-depth singing lessons from than Mariah Carey , or explore cooking techniques with than Massimo Bottura ? If you're a passionate and lifelong learner, you'll love MasterClass , which recruits the best of the best to teach us the secrets to their crafts.
With their celebrity creators, high production value, and intuitive app, MasterClass videos feel more like edutainment than traditional online courses. For $180, you can get unlimited access to the entire MasterClass catalog, including video lessons, digital workbooks, and the MasterClass community.
With a $180 annual membership, you can take unlimited courses in writing , cooking , sports , business , wellness , and more, with each topic taught by a well-known expert in their field. We report on many education platforms , and MasterClass is one of our favorites (as well as one of our go-to gifts ). The videos have high-quality production value, the courses are engaging and fast-moving, and you get a mix of practical tools as well as nuggets of insights into the lives of the celebrities you love.
Plus, the app makes using MasterClass very easy: You can even listen to just the audio and treat the courses like educational podcasts if you'd prefer to learn on the go.
What you'll find below:
- Common MasterClass FAQs
- The best MasterClass courses
- A review of MasterClass
How much does masterclass cost.
MasterClass costs $180 for its annual subscription ($15 a month), which gives you unlimited access to all its classes until you cancel.
If you want to share your subscription with others, you can pay a little more for the Duo plan (two devices; $240 annually) or the Family plan (up to six devices; $276 annually).
How does MasterClass work?
MasterClass courses are about 2-5 hours long on average, with individual lessons ranging from 2-5 minutes. Classes include pre-recorded video lessons by your instructor, a class workbook, interactive assignments, and sometimes community activities.
Some MasterClasses may have opportunities for students to submit work to instructors for feedback, but that's not the norm.
Is MasterClass worth it?
Unlike competitors like Coursera or edX , MasterClass doesn't offer certificates of completion and is best used for personal development and entertainment rather than gaining hard career skills.
If you will use MasterClass more than a few times, yes, the yearly pass is worth it. If you don't — or want something more intensive or traditionally academic — consider other online learning platforms .
How do I get MasterClass for free?
Without a membership, you can't take any MasterClass courses. However, you can try a free 30-day trial before committing to an annual plan.
Some of the best MasterClass courses :
Masterclass film and tv classes.
Some of the most notable names on MasterClass teach courses in the entertainment arts, from directing to acting. The roster of celebrity instructors is almost overwhelming: Martin Scorsese , Spike Lee , Helen Mirren , Samuel L. Jackson , Natalie Portman , Steve Martin , Judd Apatow , Ron Howard , Mira Nair , Jodie Foster , David Lynch , and Werner Herzog are just a few examples.
It's this robust list that makes MasterClass a particularly thoughtful gift for any film buffs or acting students in your life.
You can browse all of MasterClass's film and TV-related courses here .
MasterClass writing courses
There are endless online writing courses out there, but only on MasterClass can you learn from some of the most famous authors out there. We loved Margaret Atwood's course , and while they don't offer the typical feedback and notes traditional writing workshops do, MasterClass courses provide storytelling tips from Malcolm Gladwell , David Sedaris , James Patterson , Judy Blume , Amy Tan , N.K. Jemisin , Dan Brown , Neil Gaiman , Joyce Carol Oates , Walter Mosley , Shonda Rhimes , Aaron Sorkin , Roxane Gay , Amanda Gorman , David Mamet , and Salman Rushdie .
You can browse all of MasterClass's writing courses here .
MasterClass food and cooking courses
Whether you want to learn techniques from the best chefs or add some new recipes to your repertoire, we've loved MasterClass's offerings . For example, Massimo Bottura's Modern Italian Cooking MasterClass provided tips on everything from creating simple, delicious meals to reducing food waste.
Some standout instructors include Gordon Ramsay , Thomas Keller , Wolfgang Puck , Alice Waters , Dominique Ansel , Yotam Ottolenghi , and Niki Nakayama .
You can browse all the MasterClass food and culinary arts courses here .
MasterClass music and singing courses
Like MasterClass's film and TV courses, its selection of famous musicians is impressive. You can learn anything from singing and songwriting to music producing from Alicia Keys , Usher , Christina Aguilera , John Legend , Mariah Carey , Reba McEntire , Questlove , Hans Zimmer , St. Vincent , Nas , Yo-Yo-Ma , Danny Elfman , and Ringo Starr .
You can browse all of MasterClass's music courses here .
MasterClass design and style courses
For those interested in design, be it decorating a space, changing your wardrobe, or taking great photos, MasterClass boasts courses from the best of the best.
Some famous names include Tan France , Bobbi Brown , Tyler Mitchell , Diane Von Furstenberg , RuPaul , Naomi Campbell , and Annie Leibovitz . And while it was more about leadership than fashion, we particularly loved Anna Wintour's MasterClass .
You can browse all of MasterClass's design, fashion, and photography courses here .
MasterClass wellness courses
Some of the more hidden gems on MasterClass include its wellness-related courses. Ones we've really enjoyed include sexual health advice from Emily Morse , the science behind healthy sleep from Matthew Walker , meditation guidance from Jon Kabat-Zinn , and fitness tips from Joe Holder . One editor even bought a $4 emergency bracelet after watching Jessie Krebs' MasterClass on wilderness survival .
You can browse all of MasterClass's wellness courses here .
MasterClass community and government courses
Some of MasterClass's more recent additions have been courses led by famous political figures and historians, which can provide a fascinating window into their views. You can learn from Malala , Hillary Clinton , Madeleine Albright, Condoleezza Rice , and Cornel West , and MasterClass also offers series on topics like empathy , feminism , and Black history .
You can browse all of MasterClass's community, government, and political courses here .
MasterClass business and leadership courses
Along with creative skills like cooking or art, MasterClass can also provide powerful leadership advice, no matter your profession. Anna Wintour's course included surprising tidbits about how she runs Vogue , and one of our favorite MasterClasses of all time is former FBI investigator Chris Voss's guide to successful negotiation .
The topics are broad and cover a wide range of skills, be it personal branding taught by Kris Jenner , purposeful communication by George Stephanopoulos , business strategy by Bob Iger , or authentic communication by Robin Roberts .
MasterClass sports and gaming courses
Sure, when you think of learning a sport, online courses might not come to mind as particularly effective. But then again, most online courses don't feature the world's top athletes sharing and demonstrating their best-kept secrets. You can learn from Serena Williams , Stephen Curry , Simone Biles , Garry Kasparov , Tony Hawk , Misty Copeland , and Wayne Gretzky , to name a few.
You can browse all the MasterClass courses in sports and games here .
MasterClass science and technology courses
For those who remain constantly curious about the world around them, MasterClass's science and technology courses are a fun way to keep learning. Bill Nye , Neil deGrasse Tyson , and Dr. Jane Goodall are a few of the notable instructors sharing their knowledge through the platform.
You can browse all of MasterClass's science and technology courses here .
MasterClass home and lifestyle courses
You can find a broad range of lifestyle courses on MasterClass, from cooking to interior design. We really enjoyed Ron Finley's course on gardening , which went beyond practical tips to expand into the politics of food.
You can browse all of MasterClass's home and lifestyle courses here .
A personal review of MasterClass:
MasterClass is one of my favorite online learning platforms, and I've had personal experience with a fair share of them. Compared to many competitors, MasterClass courses follow the format of a one-sided conversation more than an academic setting, which can make learning feel more convenient and personally driven.
I love that I'm able to learn conventional and not-so-conventional tricks and tips from giants of any industry — some of whom are on my shortlist of favorite authors, actors, musicians, and chefs.
Classes are pretty short and easy to pick up whenever I have free time, and it's nice that I can download lessons or use Audio Mode in the car as an audiobook. When I feel like diving in deeper, I like that I have access to notes, additional reading resources, and a community.
Plus, the diversity, quality, and flexibility of its online classes are hard to beat. If I'm going through a cooking phase , I can watch bite-sized clips that are interesting and useful. And if something isn't my number one passion, the allure of a "master" helps me remain interested in the lessons.
Personally, I enjoy having yearly access. If you're a lifelong learner, it gives you the ability to jump around different subjects with tools like "topic playlists" that queue up stuff you might like. For me, it's worth the $180 — it's informative without feeling overly stringent or overwhelming. But if you're interested in deep-diving into only one topic, I'd recommend auditing a class at Coursera or edX rather than dropping $180 just to access one MasterClass. — Mara Leighton, former senior reporter
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