Write Your Way In
Crafting an Unforgettable College Admissions Essay
Rachel Toor knows what makes an essay stand out—as a former college admissions officer at Duke University, she has read thousands of these applications. Admissions officers are human, she reminds us, and they’re looking for applicants who truly connect instead of merely try to dazzle.
With Write Your Way In, Toor combines her experiences as an admissions officer and a writing teacher to demystify the essay writing process. She explains that the essay is one of the few steps that is fully within students’ control and shows that they already have the “secret sauce” for crafting a compelling personal essay: their own experiences rendered in their unique voices. Toor guides students through choosing a topic that is unforgettable without being gimmicky and then walks them through developing that concept into something that is honest, intimate, and compelling. She also offers specific and pragmatic tips on how to polish the essay until it shines. “Use words you actually say every day, not brand new ones suggested by a thesaurus,” she explains. “Good writing is about voice—your voice. Don’t contort yourself to sound like someone else.”
By taking some time to figure out who they are and what they care about, students can turn the essay-writing process into something that’s empowering instead of agonizing. With honesty and humor, Write Your Way In will help even the most nervous writers find and present the very best in themselves.