Rachel’s ambition, on graduating from Yale University, was to work on a dude ranch in Wyoming (never having been to a dude ranch—or to Wyoming). Moving to Missoula, Montana, for an MFA in creative writing is the closest she’s come. After a dozen years as an editor of scholarly books, at Oxford and Duke University Presses, she slid down the ladder of social mobility and did a stint in college admissions, quitting to write Admissions Confidential: An Insider’s Account of the Elite College Selection Process (St. Martin’s, 2001) in an attempt to demystify an arcane and brutalizing rite of passage. Since then she has published a memoir, The Pig and I (Penguin, 2005; Bison Books, 2009); Personal Record: A Love Affair with Running (University of Nebraska Press, 2008); On the Road to Find Out, a novel (Farrar, Straus, and Giroux 2014); and Misunderstood: Why The Humble Rat May Be Your Best Pet Ever (FSG 2016).
For many years she wrote for Running Times magazine. Her work has appeared in various and diverse places, including The New York Times, The LA Times, Ploughshares, Glamour, Inside Higher Ed, Reader’s Digest, Runner’s World, Ascent, JAMA (The Journal of the American Medical Association) and variety of other more academically oriented publications. Her work also appears on the Athleta blog, where she was a sponsored athlete for 2012. After years of writing for national publications, she recently began a column, “Everything is Copy,” in The Spokesman-Review, her local paper. Her essays have been selected as Notable three times in Best American Sports Writing, once in Best American Essays, and in 2017 she received a Special Mention for the Pushcart Prize.
Rachel writes a monthly column on writing and publishing for The Chronicle of Higher Education and she is frequently invited to travel around the country to
yell at gently instruct professors on how to write better. Recently she was added to the roster of Fulbright Specialists and hopes to have the opportunity to travel the world talking about good writing.
Her next book, Write Your Way In: Crafting An Unforgettable College Admissions Essay, will be published in fall 2017 by the University of Chicago Press. Here are some nice things smart people said about it pre-publication:
“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
Rachel is professor of Creative Writing in the graduate writing program of Eastern Washington University. She lives with her photogenic dog, Helen.
Here’s a link to a folder containing recent high-resolution photographs. Credit should go to: “Larry Conboy/EWU.”