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Write Your Way In

Crafting an Unforgettable College Admissions Essay


August 3, 2017

Writing, for most of us, is bound up with anxiety. It’s even worse when it feels like your whole future—or at least where you’ll spend the next four years of college—is on the line. It’s easy to understand why so many high school seniors put off working on their applications until the last minute or end up with a generic and clichéd essay. The good news? You already have the “secret sauce” for crafting a compelling personal essay: your own experiences and your unique voice.

The best essays rarely catalogue how students have succeeded or achieved. Good writing shows the reader how you’ve struggled, describes mistakes you’ve made. Excellent essays express what you’re fired up about, illustrate how you think, and illuminate the ways you’ve grown. 

More than twenty million students apply to college every year; many of them look similar in terms of test scores, grades, courses taken, extracurricular activities. Admissions officers wade through piles of files. As an applicant, you need to think about what you can say that will interest an exhausted reader. What can you write that will make her argue to admit you instead of the thousands of other applicants?

A good essay will be conversational, rich in vivid and specific details, and could only be written by one person—you. This book will help you figure out how to find and present the best in yourself. You’ll acquire some useful tools for writing well—and may even have fun—in the process.

Read an excerpt from The New York Times.


What People Are Saying

“Rachel Toor’s book is one of the best I have read on this topic: lively, humorous, and engaging. She does more than help students write an effective college essay; she challenges them to create a personal statement that reveals the unique and vital elements of their character. This book could be used as a guide to help all students—not just college applicants—write a better essay.”


—Stephen J. Handel, Associate Vice President, Undergraduate Admissions for the University of California System

“Write Your Way In doesn’t just offer expert advice on composing an effective college admissions essay. It’s also a thoughtful, even inspirational, guide to the arduous craft of writing well, by someone who herself writes very well indeed. Every aspiring writer can learn from it.”


—Daniel Golden, author of The Price of Admission

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