Girl who got into 5 Ivy League schools and Stanford reveals how she chose her essay topic

Brittany StinsonBrittany StinsonBrittany Stinson.

High school senior Brittany Stinson learned Thursday she was accepted into five Ivy League schools — Yale, Columbia, 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 last week, 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 explained. “I used that to help guide me.”

Stinson also acknowledged the difficulty of expressing oneself 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 her purchase of a hickory smoked ham at Costco spurred a conversation between her and her father about the controversial nature of former president Andrew Jackson (a.k.a., “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 humour 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.”

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