Most college essays have a stated word-limit. But admissions officers will enforce the spirit, not the letter of the law here. You need to follow directions, but as long as the college’s online application doesn’t cut you off, it’s fine to go over the word limit by 10-20 words in a short essay, and maybe by a few sentences in a long essay. Colleges have better things to do than to check the word counts of your essays for minor infractions.
Just remember that brevity is a mark of good writing. As much as you might be convinced that you can't possibly unleash your full essay potential without a few extra paragraphs, the truth is that you need fewer words than you think you do. It's a college essay, not War and Peace. Good writers do a lot of editing and rewriting to say more with fewer words.
You can find even more advice in our video, “How to Write Great College Essays.” It’s $12.99 and available as a streaming download.