A high school senior who got into 5 Ivy League schools and Stanford reveals how she chose her essay topic
Editor’s note: A high school senior named Brittany Stinson earned the education world’s attention in April 2016 with a unique college application essay set at Costco.
With early admission deadlines looming, Business Insider decided to republish her timeless advice below
High-school senior Brittany Stinson learned on Tuesday that she was accepted into five Ivy League schools: Yale, Columbia, the University of Pennsylvania, Dartmouth, and Cornell.
She also got into Stanford, which has an acceptance rate of 4.69% — a lower rate than any of the Ivy League schools.
Stinson shared her Common Application essay with Business Insider at the time, which we published in full here.
It was a lighthearted reflection of her inquisitive personality, told against a backdrop of her childhood trips to Costco.
Stinson explained how she chose her topic.
“Before I even started writing an essay, I read a quote from an admissions officer that said if your essay is on the ground and there is no name on it and one of your friends picks it up, they should know that you wrote it,” she said. “I used that to help guide me.”
Stinson also acknowledged the difficulty of expressing herself in fewer than 1,000 words.
With that in mind, Stinson said, “I really tried to think of my defining qualities, and narrowed it down to one or two qualities I wanted to convey to admissions officers.”
In the end, Stinson used a playful tone to convey those qualities. At one point, she said that her purchase of a hickory-smoked ham at Costco spurred a conversation between her and her father about the controversial nature of former US President Andrew Jackson — aka “Old Hickory.”
This humorous approach likely distinguished her essay from the thousands of others Yale and other schools received.
“I knew I was capable of weaving in humor into the essay,” she said, “and I knew that with kids that have similar extracurriculars and scores, you need to stand out when it comes to the essay.”