College assignments can be very confusing for new students. They are more open-ended than what students are used to in school, and they often carry fewer instructions. Schools treat students like children and provide a lot of direction, while colleges treat students like adults and expect them to understand things on their own. This is why so many new students end up wondering how long is an essay in college.
The simple answer is that while there is no set length of a college essay, there are ways you can understand how long your essay should be. Note that generally college essays are more detailed and thus longer than the essays we used to write in school, but it also depends on the context of the assignment. If you are being asked to write an essay at the beginning of the semester, you are probably expected to write a short one. However, if the essay is being assigned near the end of the semester, the professor probably expects something detailed.
Figuring out the essay length
There are multiple ways you can figure out the length of the essay you are supposed to provide. Let’s look at some of the ways and their advantages.
Looking for a style guide
Some students think that they are stupid if they don’t know how long an essay should be, but there is nothing stupid about the question. If you are a new college student it is obvious that you will not know all the requirements and will require detailed instructions. This is why many colleges now have a style guide on their website. If you have trouble locating the information on your official college website, try going to Google and searching for ‘’[College name] style guide”.
The guide will contain all the information you need about the essay you have to submit, from the length to the font you need to use, and much more. Many smaller colleges simply follow the style guide of a bigger institute.
Asking the professor
Still confused about the ideal essay length? Email your professor or go talk to them face to face. There is no need to be nervous. You will find that college professors are much easier to deal with that school teachers. Since they know you are an adult, they treat you like an adult, and will be happy to answer any questions that you may have. They should have told you the essay length when they assigned you the essay, so you have no reason to worry about them thinking anything bad about you since you had to ask about the essay length.
Getting in touch with a senior student
Don’t want to talk to the professor? No need to worry – simply ask a senior student who has taken their class about the essays. You can even ask the senior student to show you the essay they submitted and the grade they received for it, so you can be sure about what you are expected to deliver.