WRITING THE COLLEGE ADMISSIONS ESSAY: HOW TO HANDLE THE WORD COUNT #2

Here are five more methods that will help you wrestle your college admissions essay to the appropriate word limit.

6. Cut adjectives. In the desire to write descriptively, students will sometimes load their essays up with too many adjectives. Faced with the need to cut, look for places where you might have used two adjectives when one would suffice, or where the adjective can be eliminated completely.

7. Experiment. Using a computer allows a writer to experiment with which cuts work and which don’t. Play around, try things. You might discover a terrific cut you didn’t anticipate.

8. Stick with your strengths. Every essay has certain points, sentences, paragraphs, phrases that are stronger than others. In cutting your essay down, start with the weaker stuff.

9. Fall out of love. Writers often fall in love with their work, believing that every word, every syllable, is a gem. True as that might be in your case, you’ve got to be tough and spurn those extra words.

10. Wrap it up. Students will sometimes strain for profundity in their final paragraph, adding words and ideas, “selling” themselves. In lowering your essay’s word count, look for ways to trim your closing paragraph.

Of course, word count issues can go the other way; you’ve written your essay and it’s simply too short. If you find yourself in this situation, be very careful about padding what’s there, as it can make your essay feel rambling and hollow. Instead, brainstorm on an additional point, inspired by what you’ve already written. Can you go further in describing an event? Deeper in relating your feelings? Is there an incident you left out, that might add to your subject? Go back to your original notes and see if there was a point you didn’t pursue, that might now fit in. Don’t merely add words, add ideas.

For more personal help with the college application essay, please contact Craig Heller directly at 818-340-1276 or craig.essaysolutions@gmail.com

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