What Did The Journey of Writing Your New Book Look Like? (Part 1)

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On today’s episode of “College Admissions Real Talk”, Dr. Legatt discusses the process of writing and publishing her book, “Get Real and Get In”.


VO: Welcome to College Admissions Real Talk with Dr. Aviva Legatt, a podcast for students seeking to get admitted to top-tier colleges. Each episode will feature an important tip for your college admission success, delivered with candor and love. If you’ve ever wanted to take a peek inside the mind of a college admissions officer, this is your chance. Have a question? Text Dr. Legatt at 610-222-5762. So, what’s your dream school? 

AL: You know, someone expressed interest in my book and how it came to be and how I wrote it and sort of what that journey was like. So it’s a little bit off topic from admissions, but I know a lot of students and parents out there are thinking about publishing a book or wanting to know how to publish a book. So let me take a couple of minutes and talk to you a little bit about my process of getting this book going and what I’m looking forward to when it’s released.

If you’ve been listening to my story, you can hear that the college process had a profound impact on me and on my life, on my career. It helped me define myself. College was a place where I found my career in higher education. I didn’t realize it at the time, but I kind of figured out what I wanted to do in high school and college without really knowing that that was exactly where I was going to go. I did remember in high school having that thought of, like, “Oh, I should help people with this process because I’m really into it, and I love researching about it. I should think about that.” And my friend and I kind of joked about that back then because we were really into college guides and books and all of that. So really, the book started with my own college process. And then after leaving Penn and starting my own firm, I wanted to put down and record a lot of the things that I thought were important for students and parents to know about the admissions process that I had learned, not only from my own experience applying, but also from being on the admissions committee.

But when I was writing the book, I felt like, you know what? This is sounding a lot like these other college admissions books, which are like, “Don’t forget to fill out your forms, define yourself and choose a major.” And they were almost too tactical. And that was where my book was going when I first started writing. It was just very tactical. Let me make sure people know the things that I know, that admissions offices might not share so that people have access to that knowledge. The truth is, there are a lot of books that have that, and some do it to a better degree than others. But those books are out there. So what I want to do was some of that. I do want to give people a sense of what’s valued in admission so that they can know how to focus their efforts. But more importantly than that, I wanted to help people figure out how to find the inspiration to become leaders on the road to college.

When I was forming the book, I decided to interview different leaders who have cool careers now or interesting stories. And when I was interviewing people, I didn’t know what their college story was going to be before I interviewed them because I don’t know if you’ve talked to people about their college stories, but I never saw anybody interview anybody about what was their process of applying to college, what was that experience like? It kind of seems like people kind of glazed over that part of their lives. They just are like, “Oh, I went to Stanford or Penn or Rutgers, Penn State.” Wherever they went, they go to their college. But you don’t know that story of how they got there. And that is always…well, I don’t want to say always, but it is often an interesting story when you talk to these leaders of what happened to them or with them on their journey to college or their journey in college.

So I interviewed people for this book about their college experience. People like Adam Grant, Henry Louis Gates, Thomas Kale, who directed Hamilton the musical, Dory Clark, who’s a fantastic author and coach. I interviewed actors, and I interviewed journalists. I talked to more people than I could include in the book because I mean, when I was making the interview ask, I said, I don’t know if they have an interesting college story or not but, this is an interesting person I’d like to know about their college story. And most of the people I interviewed had super interesting college stories. So, I wanted to share their college stories with you because it gives you a sense of that these leaders all went through this process, and even if they went through it 20, 30 years ago, a lot of the lessons that they shared about their process and their exploratory aspect of their process, I think, are still really relevant today, which is why I really wanted to highlight and bring those to life in this book.

So I really enjoyed my conversations with these leaders. I share them with you in the book. I have some ones that I couldn’t fit into the book and I have a website that’s going to be coming online when the book comes out in August to share some additional college stories with you. And I really wanted students to see other leaders and find some inspiration in our stories to say, like, “Hey, these people struggled with these questions about their identity and their goals, and now they’re doing really cool things, or this is something I hadn’t thought about before, but somebody shares this experience with me, and that’s really cool.”

I remember one of my interviewees who’s a venture capitalist. He talked about being with his dad and sending out the application last minute. And back then his dad helped him on the typewriter, and he sat there and they just stayed up all night and finished the essay. And so even though we’re not using typewriters now, but we all have our version of this story, right? Where we’re conjoined as a family in some way, getting through this process, like figuring it out, trying to find the right words to say to put together that perfect application. So I was really excited to share those stories.

So my admissions experience, my personal story, other’s personal stories, and then some reflective exercises for students to look at and think about some of these questions that I think are so important on the road to college, in terms of what kind of college do I want to attend and what major should I apply to? So really practical in terms of the reflective questions, because they’re all designed to help you get closer to where you want to be on the college journey or where you’re meant to be at this point in time.

VO: College Admissions Real Talk is hosted by Aviva Legatt, edited by Stephanie Carlin, and produced by Incontrera Consulting. I’m Caroline Stokes and this has been your daily boost of college admissions insight. Have a question? Text Dr. Legatt at 610-222-5762. For more information on Dr. Legatt and Ivy Insight visit www.ivyinsight.com. And you can pick up Dr. Legatt’s book, “Get Real and Get In”, at major retail outlets across the world. Insight out.