The Common Application, an online college application system used by Yale University, the University of Virginia, and more than 400 other schools, is limiting the space available for applicants' personal essays to 500 words. We are all bloggers now.

College admissions officers are busy people! They don't have time for your boring 750-word treatise on the time you volunteered in an old folks' home. Make it snappy and get to the point. And please don't use a cryptic or jokey headline. Make it straightforward and short—"Here's Why You Are Going to Admit Me to Tufts University." Also, numbers in headlines do really well, like "15 Reasons You Will Be Happy You Said Yes."

And if you can shoehorn celebrity names or trending search terms it always helps.

[NYT, image via Shutterstock.]