If memory serves from my college admissions experiences, the answer to this is make yourself sound MUCH better than what you really are.  This is like one of those white lies that you tell about yourself but you can’t get into a fishing tale or just out and out lies (why? because that would be wrong).  It is ridiculous that the college application essay is still considered so heavily for admissions.  I understand that colleges have to distinguish students from one another and this is one of the strategies that they have chosen.  It is an inauthentic form of writing because students could get lots of “help” on the essay giving them an unfair advantage over other students  who either don’t get “help” or who may not have the support networks to help them write a good essay through revision assistance (I remember having 4 to 5 people read my admissions essays for clarity, grammar, etc.; and by the way, when I say “help” I mean ‘cheat’).  It might be time to consider not weighing the essay as heavily (if ever there was a time) or scraping it altogether for a piece of writing that they did for their English class or just a biography that provides some insight into who they are.  Regardless, the essay does not get the college as far as they would hope and is a waste of time for the students.  It needs to be reconsidered.

Repost from this link:

Is 500 Words Enough for a College Application Essay?

Could you write why a college should admit you instead of thousands of other applicants in 500 words or fewer? That’s what this fall’s crop of seniors applying to colleges using the Common Application, a standardized form that’s accepted at over 400 schools, will need to do. According to the officials from the service, they’re capping word counts on the essays for the first time in four years.

As the Washington Post reports, Common Application Executive Director Rob Killion and Director of Outreach Scott Anderson say the unlimited essay option has

“led to essays that were far too long, less well-written, and, at the end of the day, often skimmed rather than read by admission officers. In addition, the absence of a maximum size proved to be confusing for students—particularly those without access to counseling—who simply did not know when to stop writing.”

High school guidance counselors aren’t thrilled by the move. They say that it’s too difficult for a student to really be able to respond to the prompts and show off their writing ability in such a short essay. For the 2011-2012 admissions season, students can write about a topic of their choice, or respond to one of a handful of standard prompts about significant life experiences.

Of course, the root problem is that students nowadays simply aren’t getting enough writing instruction or practice to craft high-quality college application essays, regardless of length. After all, a student can still write a terrible essay in 500 words or less.

The obvious solution is for schools to give students more writing instruction and practice—and for counselors to really coach seniors through the essay writing process. Unfortunately, one effect of our current emphasis on high-stakes testing in reading and math is the de-emphasis on writing ability—and that’s happening from elementary school on up.

photo via The Ivy Coach