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College Essay Words Limit and Other Academic Writing Considerations

As soon as you start writing an essay you face the problem of word limit. How many words is a college essay? How long should an intro/conclusion/one paragraph be? Can I deviate from instructions pertaining to the paper’s length? Will I be penalized for a paper that is shorter or longer than needed? We have compiled and summarized the answers to all these questions. Read this article to find out about the length of academic papers and strategies to polish your work.

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How Many Words Is a College Essay?

There are several reasons as to why meeting the word-count requirement is important. First, it will make the desirable impression on your reader: if your paper is too short, one may think that you have nothing to say but if it is too long, it may seem verbose and ‘raw.’ Second, your instructor will surely note your respect for their requirements. And making the right impression on the right people is what we need, isn’t it?

Do you remember your high-school years? Do you remember those ten-page projects you had to pass? You had to find enough information to meet the word-count requirement. Otherwise, your teacher would lower your grade. The same is true about your college papers. Students have to follow all instructions to prove that they have both the required knowledge and significant writing skills. In college, some instructors may even think that a failure to meet the word count request is a demonstration of one’s disrespect towards them.

Still, an average college essay words limit is about 900-1000. If we talk about an admission essay, it will be around 500-600 words. On rare occasions, higher-educational institutions require students to write more than two pages. Admission officers do not have time to read long papers. They would want you to be concise and straight to the point. This is convenient for those who can write well. Yet, this word limit may become a challenge for someone who doesn’t know how to sort out unnecessary facts and additional information leaving the most important insights.

How Long Should a College Essay Be to Impress Your Audience

On average, an admission essay is about 500-600 words (you should check the college website for more details). It is no coincidence that the admission officers have chosen this particular length. This is done to see how one can express their own ideas in a concise manner presenting only essential info.

In most cases, colleges give applicants specific topics for their papers. Most probably, you will have to describe some life events and/or personal values. Of course, unnecessary facts should not appear in the paper. How long is a college essay? It depends on the specific instructions of your college. Be ready to submit two standard pages, but make sure to ask for clarifications to meet the requirements.

Some applicants do not understand the logic behind the word-count requirement. They cannot craft a short but masterfully written paper. Thus, they simply neglect this aspect. This is something you should never do if you want to join the ranks of the college freshmen. During the admission campaign, officers look through a huge amount of documents. They scan numerous papers to keep a close eye on essays that are well written and those that are not.

Thus, below you can find a concise list of tips on how to meet the word-count and other requirements while crafting a great essay.

  • Plan your time

You need to plan the process of writing this paper. Do not deviate from your plan. You should use your energy and time wisely. So, do not procrastinate. Also, make sure to have a ‘plan B’ if something goes wrong. Your computer should work well. Do not forget to make copies of the parts of your work that will finally become a single entity.

  • Craft an outline

Once your plan is ready, move on to your paper outline. Think of the most important highlights and ideas. This way you will not forget anything. It will also help you to structure your work logically.

  • Drafting is half the battle

Creating several drafts is always a good idea. Prepare the first draft and then delete or cross out redundant phrases and secondary facts. Check if you have discussed all the important things. Then, create your second draft. You may need several drafts to polish your work.

  • Find an editor

Sometimes, the author of the work feels that something is wrong but cannot detect errors and statements that should be rewritten. In this situation, a college editing center may be of great help. You can also ask a relative with a college degree to check your work. Ask your family member to pretend that he or she does not know you. Your essay should be read from this perspective.

  • Avoid clichés and common phrases

We all know such phrases as “In this paper I will,” “My paper is about,” “Let me introduce myself,” “The time of my life” and statements like that. Your audience already knows that this is your admission paper and its topic is presented in the title. Likewise, there is no need to start the final section with the words “In conclusion I want to sum up.” The reader can see that this is a concluding paragraph.

  • Read the guides

If you have any doubts regarding your writing style, check out the guides and specific resources posted on your college website. You will surely find out what should be written in each section of your work and what is the best length for your paper. Those who provide guidelines on the website are professionals and even admission officers. Thus, the question “how long is a college essay” will not bother you anymore.

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Average Paragraph Length of a College Essay

When defining the lengths of a paragraph in an essay, one should consider its type. If we talk about the opening and concluding parts, their length depends on the overall number of pages in your work. In a five-page paper, the first and the last sections will usually have around 200 words. If you are crafting a short paper of two pages, you will need to keep these paragraphs really short – four or five sentences. In case you are asked to pass a long paper of ten or more pages, you will have to present the first and the last sections of a corresponding length. You will most likely have to present two paragraphs in each section, where each indenture contains about 200 words.

Yet, these rules do not work when we talk about body paragraphs. Here, college paragraph length does not depend on the overall number of pages in the work. Vice versa, no matter how long your paper is, each paragraph of the main text should not be longer than 250-300 words, that is, one page. However, it can’t be shorter than four sentences. Why? This is because you have to introduce a topic sentence with a main claim supporting your thesis, a sentence with evidence/citation, the next one with your explanation or comments and a concluding or transitional statement. If your paragraph has only one quotation, then it will have around 100 words. If you need to present more evidence and comments, you will end up with approximately 1,500 characters. But remember, 300 words is the upper limit. Otherwise, your work will be difficult to read.

Thus, in general it is possible to say that the average paragraph length is 200-250 words.

What You Need to Know About a College Essay Conclusion

This section is a part and parcel of every article, research paper, memo or essay. The above listed types of papers always have an intro with the central claim. This statement determines the structure of the work and answers the “why” question. Meanwhile, the concluding section answers the “so what” question. It restates the central claim, summarizes the main ideas presenting the solution to the problem under discussion. Quite often it also highlights the importance of the problem explaining to the audience why they should care.

Sometimes, writing a college essay conclusion is the hardest part. Many students do not know how to bring the work to its logical end. So, they just stop writing the main paragraphs and put a sentence or two as the final part. And this is a big mistake. Conclusions are important as they ensure that the reader has gained a clear understanding of the problem under discussion or the point of view that the author defends in the paper. At the same time, this part of your work should also be interesting and memorable. Thus, creativity is the key. You need to find the right way to kick off your last section.

Frequently used phrases like “Thus, I want to say...” will not earn you high grades. Even though this is the first thing that comes to your mind, you should look for a better option. Attention-grabbing and engaging phrases will keep your reader focused and alert. This will make your masterpiece unforgettable.

Further in this article you will find a list of synonymous alternatives to ensure a bright beginning of your last section.

Conclusion vs Summary

First and foremost, we do not compare two sections: conclusion vs summary. Here, we talk about two phrases that are often used interchangeably: “in conclusion” and “in summary.” You should know that there is a slight difference in their meaning. Still, they are both used in the final sections of academic papers. The authors want to signal that now they will present the final statement.

We use “in summary” to communicate our overall deduction. But in fact, this is the summary of the main ideas.

We use “in conclusion” to highlight the final claim clarifying the arguments made earlier. Hence the difference in the meaning of these two phrases. “In summary” signals about the summary of the key facts that will be presented further.

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Synonyms for "In Conclusion"

Single-Word Alternatives

It is always good to have a list of words to use in a college essay. Usually, we use phrases as a substitute for “in conclusion.” Still, there are one-word variants. Take a look at this list of alternatives to find the best way to bring your writing to an end:

  • largely,
  • altogether,
  • finally,
  • briefly,
  • lastly,
  • categorically,
  • mostly,
  • chiefly,
  • next,
  • overall,
  • now,
  • ultimately,
  • primarily,
  • predominantly.

Double-Word Options to Replace “In Conclusion”

There are also other ways to say in conclusion. You may find two-word phrases more appropriate because they are the perfect replacement for those two words: in conclusion. So, you have a rich choice here as the list is long:

  • altogether now,
  • all told,
  • to summarize,
  • as indicated,
  • to end,
  • bluntly stated,
  • to conclude,
  • in essence,
  • in brief,
  • in general,
  • in closing,
  • in short,
  • most importantly,
  • in summary,
  • to surmise,
  • in summation,
  • upon investigation,
  • upon consideration,
  • upon review,
  • upon reflection.

Three-Word Phrases to Say “In Conclusion”

In case you need a longer phrase to signal that you are going to present your final thoughts, check the list below. These transitional phrases will ensure a smooth flow of ideas and prepare your reader for the final chord:

  • all in all,
  • on the whole,
  • all things considered,
  • as a result,
  • by and large,
  • by and by,
  • in a nutshell,
  • in other words,
  • in the main,
  • in the end,
  • so it seems,
  • lest we forget,
  • upon further analysis,
  • without further ado,
  • upon further review.

Long Phrases to Say “In Conclusion”

If you feel the need to use a comprehensive phrase so that your reader may know that these are your final thoughts, use our list of long statements. All of them have no less than four words:

  • as one can see,
  • considering all the above,
  • at the end of the day,
  • in the fullness of time,
  • after all is said and done,
  • for the most part,
  • in the final analysis,
  • in light of the aforementioned facts,
  • last but not least,
  • taking all of the said into account,
  • to bring things together,
  • as we have reached the end,
  • to bring things to a close,
  • to wrap/sum/wind things up,
  • to come to the final point,
  • upon analyzing all of the above,
  • with this in mind,
  • while further study is warranted,
  • what really matters is.
Read our College Essay Example
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Statement of Purpose

I have enjoyed creative activities ever since I was a kid. This eagerness to make a difference and introduce something extraordinary has been instilled in me throughout my school years. What I need most is a sense of achievement after accomplishing what I have come up with. I truly believe that architecture can give me the life trajectory which allows that complete accomplishment. I am an ambitious person, and I have made a long-term goal for myself to graduate and become a prominent architect to bring to life my creative ideas. I am absolutely sure that NewSchool is a perfect environment for me as it aims to help the students achieve success in architecture. Furthermore, I hope to acquire profound knowledge, and this school is good at creating the foundation for learning various aspects of architecture.

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