Length of Admissions Essays

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pooteeweet
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Length of Admissions Essays

Postby pooteeweet » Fri Jun 11, 2010 4:20 pm UTC

I'm applying to a post-bac pre-med program and they ask for a "Personal Statement" which they specify should not exceed 3 double-spaced pages. I'm at about a page and a half right now, and I'm of the mind that brevity is a good thing-- admissions people probably hate having to slog through pages and pages of this stuff. My boyfriend insists, though, that if they say "no more than 3 pgs" then they expect me to have written a longer essay.

All my Google results for this subject consist of people asking "Is it ok if my essay exceeds the word/page limit?" And the responses to that question are all along the lines of "Good God, no, keep it under the limit!"

But what about the opposite problem? Is it acceptable to hand in a 1.5-page essay when the suggested length is "less than 3"? Or will that look like I just don't give a shit? (Actually, by the time I tack a conclusion on there I guess it might approach 2 pages)

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Re: Length of Admissions Essays

Postby cv4 » Fri Jun 11, 2010 6:37 pm UTC

I'd say two pages is a good place to be. Not too short, not too long.

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Re: Length of Admissions Essays

Postby KestrelLowing » Sat Jun 12, 2010 1:28 am UTC

If you believe your essay says all that it needs to, then don't make it any longer. I've never dealt with college admissions before (except for applying), but nearly every other essay I've written, proofed, and read would be better if it was more concise.

What matters is the quality, NOT quantity.

BTW: Kudos on starting your applications early! (Unless you're horribly behind, which I don't think is possible this time of year) This makes your senior year sooo much easier if you've already applied in the summer and just have to worry about scholarships during the school year

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Re: Length of Admissions Essays

Postby mmmcannibalism » Sat Jun 12, 2010 5:33 am UTC

I would say if they say no more then 3 you want to be a little more then one and a half; around 2 is what I would say is fine.(though if you are a good writer 1.5 is most likely perfectly fine)

But as said before, the limit being 3 doesn't mean you need to type 2.99999 pages.
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Re: Length of Admissions Essays

Postby Bakemaster » Sat Jun 12, 2010 4:59 pm UTC

It's always a good idea to use the space that you're allowed to its full potential. Don't just pad your essay for the sake of getting closer to the limit, but if you've written 1.5 good pages, my advice would be to go over them another couple times with a mind to what else you can show/say about yourself that isn't already said in what you've written. Make a list of all the qualities that you think are desirable in an applicant to this program. Prioritize them. Strike through any that you've already covered in your 1.5 good pages, and for the rest, think about ways that you could touch on them in the course of what you've written. Since they didn't come to mind on your first try, they may not be worth a full paragraph. If you feel that you lack an item, or that you lack the experience/training with which to illustrate an item beyond simply stating your aptitude, you may be able to address it in the course of another subtopic.

For instance, people tend not to be very good at articulating their leadership experience; often it comes through seeming forced or it doesn't come through at all, because they've never been a manager or a teacher's aid or a supervisor. But you can indicate leadership skills by using language to emphasize the responsibilities of a position that involved group work, or to suggest initiative taken beyond simple participation. You never need to say "leadership skills" or "supervisory position" or anything like that; if you don't really have that experience, it'll probably show in what you write.

If you've addressed everything on your list in your 1.5 good pages, and you think you've done it in a way that seems confident and natural, then don't worry about the 3 page limit. What's important is that, when you finish and find you've only written half the length they specify as a limit, you go back and analyze your work again to make sure you haven't left anything out.
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Re: Length of Admissions Essays

Postby modularblues » Sun Jun 13, 2010 7:15 pm UTC

2 to 2.5 pages is how long I'd make mine... I write concisely anyway.

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Re: Length of Admissions Essays

Postby Ulc » Mon Jun 14, 2010 8:19 am UTC

Bakemaster wrote:It's always a good idea to use the space that you're allowed to its full potential. Don't just pad your essay for the sake of getting closer to the limit, but if you've written 1.5 good pages, my advice would be to go over them another couple times with a mind to what else you can show/say about yourself that isn't already said in what you've written.


Applies to reports as well as admission essays for the record.

Nothing is more likely to annoy the heck out of your teacher than writing a 10 page report, if a three page one could have explained exactly the same - and annoyed teachers give low grades.

Weird anecdote: Boy, was one of my high school students pissed when I gave her 10*, and I told her that if she had kept it shorter she could have gotten 12.

Our system is a bit weird; -3 and 0 are failing grades, then comes 2, 4, 7, 10 & 12
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Re: Length of Admissions Essays

Postby pooteeweet » Thu Jun 17, 2010 4:23 pm UTC

Bakemaster wrote:It's always a good idea to use the space that you're allowed to its full potential. Don't just pad your essay for the sake of getting closer to the limit, but if you've written 1.5 good pages, my advice would be to go over them another couple times with a mind to what else you can show/say about yourself that isn't already said in what you've written. Make a list of all the qualities that you think are desirable in an applicant to this program. Prioritize them. Strike through any that you've already covered in your 1.5 good pages, and for the rest, think about ways that you could touch on them in the course of what you've written. Since they didn't come to mind on your first try, they may not be worth a full paragraph. If you feel that you lack an item, or that you lack the experience/training with which to illustrate an item beyond simply stating your aptitude, you may be able to address it in the course of another subtopic.

For instance, people tend not to be very good at articulating their leadership experience; often it comes through seeming forced or it doesn't come through at all, because they've never been a manager or a teacher's aid or a supervisor. But you can indicate leadership skills by using language to emphasize the responsibilities of a position that involved group work, or to suggest initiative taken beyond simple participation. You never need to say "leadership skills" or "supervisory position" or anything like that; if you don't really have that experience, it'll probably show in what you write.

If you've addressed everything on your list in your 1.5 good pages, and you think you've done it in a way that seems confident and natural, then don't worry about the 3 page limit. What's important is that, when you finish and find you've only written half the length they specify as a limit, you go back and analyze your work again to make sure you haven't left anything out.


Thanks, that's some useful advice (there's a ton of advice out there, but most of it is not particularly helpful for one reason or another).

Ulc wrote:Nothing is more likely to annoy the heck out of your teacher than writing a 10 page report, if a three page one could have explained exactly the same - and annoyed teachers give low grades.


Yeah, I'm always tempted to use this rationale to justify calling a paper (/admissions essay/resume/etc) finished when I know that it probably needs more work. I hate fleshing things out, giving examples, etc-- I just want to say whatever I've got to say (which usually isn't much) and leave it at that! Then whoever's giving me feedback on these things tells me I need to add more detail, and it just makes me want to bitch-slap my writing's future audience for needing so much molly-coddling.

Huh. I thought I kind of liked writing, but I just remembered that it makes me kind of angry.

KestrelLowing wrote:BTW: Kudos on starting your applications early! (Unless you're horribly behind, which I don't think is possible this time of year) This makes your senior year sooo much easier if you've already applied in the summer and just have to worry about scholarships during the school year


Nope! I'm horribly behind. But I'm not in school right now (already got my B.A.) and this program has no admissions deadline, it's just... open till all the places are filled. It's kind of a catch-up pre-med program for people who decide they might want to study medicine, but didn't realize it till they were through with college.

Sigh. I really suck at finishing things when I have no concrete deadline looming over my head. Also, because it's summer time, I'm having trouble getting in touch with my old teachers to ask for recommendations.

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Re: Length of Admissions Essays

Postby nash1429 » Tue Jun 22, 2010 7:24 am UTC

You might try some anecdotes to demonstrate your skills/abilities/etc. if you want to get the paper a little over 2 pgs.


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