If you are applying to college now or in the future, you have perhaps heard of the Common App Essay, or personal statement, necessary by many colleges. You may have even heard of the “Costco essay” that got one student accepted to several Ivy League schools. Costco personal statement is a college essay about Costco stores that a school student Brittany Stinson submitted in reply to her application prompt in 2016. She had to describe some important experience that defined her, and she selected to write about her life-long relationship with Costco shops. She deftly linked her childhood and teenage searches there to her personal qualities and strengths, presenting how they affected her interest in studies. This essay went viral because she got offers from world’s best universities at once —all five Ivy League schools -Yale, Columbia, Dartmouth, University of Pennsylvania, and Cornell along with Stanford.
But first, let’s reexamine the objective of the Common App Essay. This essay is your chance to display who you are outside your ACT or SAT scores, grades, or extracurricular activities. The Common App Essay prompts are comprehensive enough that can write about any topic. As one high school applicant proved, an effective essay can also be about something as humble as their love for Costco. Many students think that they should use the personal statement to boast about a remarkable achievement or important challenge they have oppressed. However, admissions officers select applicants expressing themselves, and that the approach to get picked by the top college isn’t by bragging or boasting. Personality, wit, and seemingly trivial habits can also help to get selected by your dream school. The Costco essay can assist as a model for writing outside-of-the-box personal statements.
Analysis about the Costco essay:
Topic selection: Stinson’s essay did well because it’s a fresh take on an everyday experience. Stinson has explained that she choose Costco as one of her prospective Common App Essay topics because of the running joke between her and her friends that she spent so much time at Costco that she almost lived there. However, Costco wasn’t really the main point of the essay, but rather the structure for it. She mentions many other interests, including scientific research, cross country, and dance. But Costco is a surprising and modest direction into those topics. While Stinson uses her essay to show off her intellectual curiosity and her writing ability, it is not centred on a particular event that highlights how bright or talented she is. In its place, she wrote about something she sincerely loved to do, without distressing about the reputation of it.
Underlying theme: Stinson’s uses the topic to demonstrate her intellectual curiosity. Not only does Stinson use shopping at Costco to illustrate her intellectual curiosity—in listing her interests and activities, she also explicitly links her topic to the rest of her application. In this way, the essay helps to create an overarching narrative or story about who Stinson is, a story that admissions counsellors likely remembered as they reviewed the rest of her materials and moved forward in the admissions process.
Quality of writing: The essay opens with a compelling anecdote, a hook, describing herself as a “ferocious two-year old rampaging through Costco.” In the rest of the essay, her writing remains balanced with specific images and moments. The essay demonstrates the age-old writing truism to show rather than tell. This technique draws the reader into the essay and helps keep them engaged. The Costco essay is also full of active language and forceful word varieties. It’s a good idea to share the essay with a trusted reader or teacher as grammar or spelling errors leave a negative impression on admissions committees and a computer’s grammar/spell check may not catch every mistake.
Tone: The essay is written in a fun, approachable tone and humour infuses the work, which has a spontaneous feel. In this essay, Stinson seems like someone who might be likely to start long philosophical discussions in the residential hall or encourage her physics study group to take a fifteen-minute break for an impromptu dance party or, of course, hold her roommates for a weekend trip to Costco. In other words, her essay suggests that she will be a great addition to her college community. The essay is filled with complex, well-crafted sentences and careful word choice.
Other important tips to write a Costco essay:
Authenticity: The admissions officer reading your essay wants to know who you are and “what it would be like to have a conversation with you”. Too many essays are written in a very detached style – even disconnected from the person they are writing about. The reader wants to be affected by what he reads as it is one of the only chances for a student to speak as his or her true self and spotlight something they are passionate about. In other words, realize that there is no other candidate like you applying with your passions, attributes, strengths, and yes, challenges.
The precision of Expression: For an artist to create a painting that gets noticed, she relies on many shades and hues – each one conveying a different tone, a different feeling. The same holds true in writing. To affirm that the college admissions officer knows who you are – you must be specific and not reticent about employing figurative language. Writing in this manner creates a story that will be felt and reveal a person with a soul. The English language is abundant with words that generally mean the same, but convey a different shade of meaning.
Instincts: Don’t try to copy what you believe to be a perfect essay, whether it’s the Costco essay or the essay written by other students. Essays should paint a vivid picture of real people with a unique set of strengths and challenges.
College application essays are just one of the five major criteria for college acceptance. Getting ready to write an application essay is easier when you can see successful examples. Sometimes, though, Costco type of statement might seem impossible. You might lack writing creativity, especially if your speciality is focused on mechanical areas. You might also be worried about the quality of writing, and that’s where thoughts about help tend to appear. However, Ms Stinson’s essay shows that you can be true to yourself without overthinking and create a powerful essay with a great message that showcases your skills.