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 at Duke, 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); and Misunderstood: Why The Humble Rat May Be Your Best Pet Ever (Farrar, Straus, and Giroux 2016). Her young adult novel, On the Road to Find Out (Farrar, Straus, and Giroux 2014), is about a girl who, after being rejected from her first-choice college, takes up running. Her newest book, Write Your Way In: Crafting An Unforgettable College Admissions Essay, published by the University of Chicago Press in August, 2017, was excerpted in The New York Times.
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. She is on the roster of Fulbright Specialists.
Rachel is professor of Creative Writing in the graduate writing program of Eastern Washington University. She lives in Spokane with her husband Toby and her photogenic dog Helen.
Here’s a link to a folder containing recent high-resolution photographs. Credit should go to: “Larry Conboy/EWU.”