The three standardized application portals—the Common App, the Universal App, and the Coalition App—all request personal statements capped at 650 words, but that’s the absolute limit, at which point your writing will be cut off.
I consider 500 the “sweet spot,” but don’t stress if you write an essay closer to 430 or 620 that you’re honestly proud of.
Similarly, if you wrote a 500-word piece you’re proud of but the maximum is 300, please don’t go line-by-line to delete extra words; instead, reconsider the scope of your essay, because you may have selected a larger topic than can be thoughtfully addressed within the word count.
For those of you still concerned about the literal word count: The most common “personal statement” length is in the ballpark of 500 words.
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Writing simply about the fact that the challenge exists is also less interesting than if you wrote something referencing momentum in terms of future change, or possibly even past decline.
For example, in addressing a topic like pollution, you could talk about how your view is that you believe the greatest challenge will be spreading actionable awareness of the issue to overcome our current apathy, maybe with a brief suggestion on how that could be attained.
College Vine is here to provide detailed tips and examples to help you approach Stanford’s supplemental essays..
Be honest with what you write, but also think critically about the different aspects of your personality you are highlighting with each answer.