jsd wrote:As someone also applying to Columbia and Chicago (my "basic" personal statement was only about 1100 words), I decided to really cut it down for Columbia. Basically, I wanted it to be one page, single spaced. For Chicago, I felt I had more leeway, so I ended up just slightly over two pages (maybe 1300 words). If you've managed to say everything important in 1200 words, don't bore them with fluff.
I agree. Don't worry about your statement being a little short of the suggestion. Your statement will be graded on content not amount of words. So, if it is shorter and still contains all the relevant information, that is a good thing. It shows that you can express yourself efficiently and effectively using the English language. If you add fluff, you will end up burying the information you want them to notice.
On the other hand, if you statement is much LONGER than the suggestion, I would try to make it shorter. As already mentioned, this will show that you can't follow simple guidelines.
My statements are also ~1200 words. It seems that that is the standard length for most people.