Students think of a "Dean" as a signature on a letter, someone like the Wizard of Oz: an idea more than a person. I'm emerging from behind my proverbial curtain to share insights informed by my actual experience: I was a first-generation college student, and need-based financial aid opened my door to opportunity. Not many students from my large high school went on to selective colleges, so advice was thin. I was largely on my own. My platform here helps me reach those of you in a similar place.

— Lee Coffin, Vice President and Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid





6 JULY 2023

12 JANUARY 2022

A Degree in Thinking

For centuries, the liberal arts have been foundational to the mission of higher education. But trying to explain the concept of this course of study — and the multifaceted roadmap a liberal arts degree provides for one's life and work in the 2020s and beyond—can be challenging. And so AB host Lee Coffin called in a specialist: Cecilia Gaposchkin, a Dartmouth history professor whose courses range from the fall of Rome to the Crusades to the medieval kings of France. She was also the College's longtime dean for pre-major advising.  But the subject matter of the liberal arts—chemistry or history, philosophy or French—is often less important than the skills a student learns: how to think critically, pose tough questions, write clearly and persuasively, and be a productive citizen. "A liberal arts degree is a degree in thinking," Professor Gaposchkin advises high school seniors and juniors as they consider their options.

A Degree In Thinking

A transcript is available for this episode.


First Hand with Dean Lee Coffin

In each issue of 3D, Dartmouth's undergraduate admissions magazine that celebrates our vibrant community framed by nature, Dean Coffin shares advice and insights on the admissions process.

Read 3D Magazine