August 2, 2013 at 3:45 PM
SOUTH ORANGE, NJ – Longtime South Orange resident Carol Barash founded her company, Story To College, in 2010, to teach high school students how to write effective college application essays and help them get accepted into their preferred colleges. Now she has written a book entitled “Write Out Loud: Use the Story To College Method, Write Great Application Essays, and Get into Your Top Choice College” in which she shares the secrets of her program with students everywhere. Published by McGraw-Hill, the book is being released on Aug. 23.
Barash has put everything she has learned in her 20 years in education, technology and business into Story To College, and what she calls the “Moments Method” of writing. It is a storytelling-based approach, in which students integrate their past experiences and future ambitions into engaging essays and interviews. She calls the book “Write Out Loud,” because it is her goal to get students “to write and speak in a way that makes people pay attention.”
With the release of the brand new college "Common Application," featuring all new questions, the timing of this book could not be better.
Barash’s first encounter with college essays was when she had to write her own, as a high school student in central Pennsylvania.
“The day before my father died in 1975 he said to me, ‘Something unbelievable has happened. For the first time, girls can go to college anywhere. I may not be there to see you, but you should go to Harvard or Yale,’" Barash said. Her guidance counselor told her she would not get in. Her AP English teacher told her she did not write well enough to succeed there.
“The stakes were very high, and I just poured everything into my college applications,” she said. Barash not only was accepted at Yale, but graduated summa cum laude, earned her MA from the University of Virginia, and a PhD from Princeton University. She has taught at Princeton, the University of Michigan, and Rutgers University.
“When I was a graduate student at UVA, I coached one of my professor's kids on his college application essays. He was a shy student, his grades weren't fabulous, but he was dazzlingly smart and loved the outdoors. I just had him write about what he saw and did in the world,” she said. “I watched him come out of his shell and share his ideas with other people. And of course when a student reveals their character and idiosyncrasies in their essays, they get admitted to lots of colleges because the people who read those essays get to know them.”
“When I taught at Rutgers, I served on the Douglass College Admissions Committee, and I saw how an authentic essay made a student stand out from hundreds of applicants who were otherwise identical on paper,” Barash said. “I remember the best essay still: it was by a girl from Columbia High School about the first day of ninth grade.”
In 2008, Barash studied storytelling and saw how she could help many students to use the application process to advocate for themselves, not just in college, but in life. The guided exercises she developed help writers get past the stress and confusion of writing about themselves. Since 2010, Story To College has taught their proprietary Moments Method to more than 8,000 students and teachers from around the world.
"College admissions have become insanely competitive. Harvard has more valedictorians apply than they have places. It seems like everyone has super-sized their standardized test scores. GPAs no longer stop at 4.0. And there is an army of consultants telling students and parents what they "have to" do to get into selective colleges. I think of myself as the anti-consultant, telling students: you have what you need to succeed; your brain already knows how to write these essays; here are the steps you can take to connect with other people again and again--in college applications, job interviews, even a first date,” Barash said.
Her best piece of advice?
“The key to unlock selective college admissions is to tell your unique story in your own voice. Show colleges what they will miss if you are not a member of their community. As Oscar Wilde said, ‘Be yourself. The other roles are already taken.’”
“Write Out Loud” is available at Words Bookstore: http://store.wordsbookstore.com/book/9780071828284 , and bookstores everywhere.