The Common Application no longer requires a short answer essay from all applicants, but many colleges continue to include the short answer as part of a supplement.
The short answer essay prompt typically states something like this: "Briefly elaborate on one of your extracurricular activities or work experiences." It is the simplest of movements: right foot, left foot, right foot.
The college has asked for a short essay because it has holistic admissions; in other words, the school tries to evaluate the whole applicant through both quantitative (grades, test scores, rank) and qualitative (essays, interview, extracurricular activities).
A short answer essay gives the college a useful window into the applicant's interests. For both the writing and the content, she has written a winning short answer essay.
While my body adjusts to the challenges of gravel paths and steep inclines, my mind is free to drift, to sift through whatever needs sorting or disposing—the upcoming day's tasks, an argument with a friend, some nagging stress.
As my calf muscles loosen and my breathing settles into its deep rhythm, I am able to release that stress, forget that argument, and set my mind in order.
This one little paragraph gives us the impression that the author is a thoughtful, sensitive, and healthy person.
In a short space, the essay reveals the maturity of the writer—she is reflective, articulate, and balanced.
The length is a perfect 823 characters and 148 words.
This is a typical length limit for a short-answer essay.