THE COSTCO ESSAY
If you read essay examples on the internet, we recommend doing so primarily for inspiration, to get your creative ideas flowing. There is one particular essay, however, that has risen to a degree of fame and is worth analyzing in a bit more detail: the Costco essay.
As a preface to this discussion, we should note that in any given year, there are hundreds of essays that are just as exceptional as this one. It just so happens that this college essay has been publicly circulated, and is widely known. Having said that, let’s look into this renowned essay.
Insights and Uniqueness
So, what makes the Costco essay so special? Several factors, the first of which is its uniqueness. When crafting an essay, often times it isn’t so much the particular topic you’re writing about that is important, but what you have to say about the topic. You may have an amazing mind-altering life-or-death experience, but if your writing is dry and doesn’t reveal anything about you, the great potential of that story is severely diminished. Similarly, a topic that may appear to be mundane on the surface can be a great essay if you convey deep insights about the topic while at the same time revealing key aspects of your personality and background. This essay is a perfect example.
The Costco essay takes the most mundane of topics – shopping at a discount warehouse – but shares many unique insights about this experience and uses these observations as an avenue to expose the reader to the interworking of the mind of the writer. Also, specific observations are used to explore the larger picture, the philosophy of life, as viewed from the lens of the student.
The Costco essay also stands out for the sophistication of its writing – the intimate tone and the writer’s ease and confidence with prose is readily apparent. When reading this essay, it doesn’t feel like you’re reading – after a while, you become immersed in the storyline, and it feels more like someone is talking with you, sharing their wonderful insights into life. This is precisely what you should aim to achieve in your essay. Don’t make it sound like a boring exposition on a topic; make it an interesting, intelligent, and engaging conversation between you and the reader. Also, the writer is able to convey information between the lines, without explicitly stating this information. This task can be difficult to pull off, and you need to have a command of the language and a mastery of writing to do so. (Don’t worry, we can help you with this step!)
Let’s face it, admissions officers are human, and they spend all day long pouring over applications and reading essays. After a while, many of these essays start to blend together. An essay that is actually fun to read will stand out in this ocean of verbiage. But let’s make a careful distinction: you can be interesting, and you can be entertaining, but don’t forget to have substance, to have those big ideas and deep insights interspersed in the narrative in order to make it more than simply a fun read. Strike the right balance, and you’ll have something that will blow away admission officers.
But Not Perfect
While the essay is impressive, it’s not without its flaws. What? Flaws you say? Well, we are essay experts, so part of our job when evaluating an essay is to recognize weaknesses and then make the final version of the essay as absolutely perfect as possible. For instance, paragraphs two and three can be shortened a bit, and paragraph four can be expanded to add just a few more details about the writer’s background. One guideline we always share with our students is to let the final version of the essay sit for a few days once the writing is done. That way, you can come back to it and evaluate it more objectively, something that will allow you to find those little things that you overlooked previously, little things that can transform a really good essay into a great one.
Here is the essay in its entirety: