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Opinion: Essay Length Requirements

By Joseph Cantori

--Essays are the enemy of high school students. They are time-consuming, long, and warned to be even more inflated in college. Required essay lengths, in particular, bring a burden to a task that doesn’t significantly benefit from its presence and that exists mostly in the fallacy “more is better”.

With essay length requirements come a threat to the many enjoyable aspects of free-writing. When you have to meet a word quota, the idea of utilizing new vocabulary that can convey the same content with less words becomes demoted. After all, why bother utilizing more thought and modifying your library of vocabulary when you’re basically penalized? This conflicts with utilizing new vocabulary and encourages students to either maintain a simple style of writing or turn it into something even simpler since it adds drag with more words.

Certain concepts bring a different amount of content with it, and when striving to meet word quotas, writers may turn to choosing topics based on the size of the material potential they have as opposed to their personal interest in it.

In meeting the word quota, you often have to re-read previously charted material or turn to endlessly dwelling on the same material as more straightforward writing often counteracts the development of a word surplus. People may bring redundancy by restating questions too much, returning to the same thought, or explaining the material again and again in a way that is slightly different but holds the same material; it’s not necessary.

When you run out ideas and just want to meet a word limit, everything that comes out of your head is writing material. While it sounds nice and reflective of the writer, it leads to a lot of mediocrity. It also makes it more difficult for people to read, makes it even harder to modify, and consumes more time. Colleges seem to prefer shorter essays and books with these elongated pacing problems aren’t desirable by any genuine demographic.

It not only wastes the time of the student, it hurts them. The best concept that reflects this in my opinion is a cup of cocoa: feel free to add more water and milk, you’ll have more to drink, but say farewell to the richness of the cocoa flavor.

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