Admission News

The Short Application Essay

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The short essays you will be asked to write, either for the Common Application or for colleges that ask specifically for other essays, will seem easy after you have tackled the longer personal essay. However, the shorter essays can actually be harder. First, they are so short they take incisive writing. Secondly, you have to hit just the right note and you have less room to miss.

Avoid common mistakes with the short essays.

• First, don’t go over the 250 word limit.

• Second, although this essay is generally asking for about two paragraphs. You are better off to write one good paragraph than two loosely-structured or sloppy paragraphs.

• Three, be careful not to give an impression of being too full of yourself. Yes, this essay is about you, but you have to have the right amount of humility, too. Colleges are not interested in your touting your connections or how you soar over others, nor are they interested in your becoming a millionaire.

• Fourth, always use as much detail as you can. There are too few words allowed you here to be vague or general.

What you can do is be passionate about what you are writing. This short essay(s) is giving you the opportunity to show something different about yourself that is not already in your application. And, that something different does not have to be extraordinary. It’s is actually many of the small things in life that make you who you are. Think hard about your everyday life. Are you careful to organize your clothes in your bedroom closet? Do you make sure to start the car for you mother every morning? Do you always check on your sister, or are you the one to take the dog for an extra walk? Do you ask your friends how they did on their algebra test? Answers to these questions reveal you and your personality: being organized, thoughtful, caring, responsible, aware of others.

Remember the short essay can have a big impact. It’s always the little things! Colleges are asking you to write this essay because they want to know about YOU and not what you DO.

After writing the short essay ask yourself two things

• What do these 250 words say about me?

• Is my essay dry or egotistical?

If the essay is not revealing, it’s missed the mark; and if it’s dry or boastful, it isn’t honest or passionate.