The Search

A Guide to Navigating College Admissions

Brought to you by Dartmouth


Episode 1: Admissions 101
Episode 2: Getting Started

Episode 3: Does It Fit?
Episode 4: Passport to Admission
Episode 5: Avoiding the Parent Trap
Episode 6: What Counts?
Episode 7: Telling Your Story


A photo of Dean Coffin and his dog recording a podcast
Dean Coffin, recording Episode 1 from his living room, joined by his dog, Logan

The Search podcast is a conversation about college admissions for stuck-at-home high school juniors. It's sponsored by Dartmouth and it sometimes draws on Dartmouth's community as guests but it's decidedly not about getting into Dartmouth. It's about helping you see a path forward in your own college search, wherever that path might lead you. 

This project is a discussion in 12 parts, a 30-minute blast of advice and reflection drawn from the Dean's resources at Dartmouth as well as friends and colleagues from other schools and colleges who also love this work we do. While it can't answer every question or cover every topic, it will squeeze in as much context and information as possible. Just like the essays you will write in a few months the podcast has a "word limit" it must maximize. Read more about Dean Coffin's inspiration to create this podcast on his blog!


Telling Your Story

In this episode, Dean of Enrollment and Director of Admissions and Financial Aid Lee Coffin, with guest Meredith Reynolds, associate director of college guidance at Roxbury Latin School in Boston, talks with two members of the Dartmouth Class of 2024 about how they crafted unforgettable essays that catapulted their applications to the top of a very lofty pile.



What Counts?

Lee Coffin, vice provost for enrollment and dean of admissions and financial aid at Dartmouth, talks with Leigh Weisenburger, dean of admissions and financial aid at Bates College, in Lewiston, Maine, and Sonia Bell, director of college counseling at St. Luke's School, in New Canaan, Ct., about evaluating student applications "holistically," considering test scores, transcripts, and recommendations within the context of students' personal circumstances and the programs available in the secondary schools they attend. They also weigh in on the optional submission of SAT or ACT scores during the pandemic.

A transcript of this podcast is available.




Passport to Admission

According to the Institute of International Education, there are over a million international college students studying in the U.S., just over 5 percent of the total student population. But applying for admission from outside our borders can be daunting, because academic degrees and testing standards vary from country to country. In this episode, Vice Provost for Enrollment Lee Coffin talks with three successful applicants to Dartmouth—one from England, one from Zimbabwe, and one from Panama—about how they navigated that terrain.

A transcript of this podcast is available.



Does It Fit?

Finding the right college is, at its best, an act of matchmaking. In this episode of "The Search" Lee Coffin, vice provost for enrollment and dean of admissions and financial aid, learns how three very different applicants narrowed down their college choices. Each started with a list of more than 20 possible schools. Two out of three could not visit campuses yet found many other ways—including social media—to figure out which ones were right for them. Their priorities shifted as they learned more, not only about colleges within their reach, but also about themselves.

A transcript of this podcast is available.




Getting Started

Lee Coffin, vice provost for enrollment and dean of admissions and financial aid, continues to share practical advice about finding and getting into colleges that meet the needs of all kinds of applicants. In this episode, "Getting Started," two experienced high school college counselors reveal how they help eleventh graders make diverse college wish lists, zeroing in on the criteria—the "negotiables"—they and their parents value most highly.

A transcript of this podcast is available.




Admissions 101

An image captured from a Zoom session during the recording of Episode 1 of the podcast

"Admissions 101" offers an overview of the changing landscape of college admissions as seen through the eyes of two students. Aditi Narayanan '24, from Phoenix Arizona, and Jack Heaphy '24, from Charlottesville, Virginia, talk with Dean Coffin about how they launched their respective searches. Both attended large diverse high schools, and both initially applied to 20 colleges.

Each found novel ways to investigate colleges, beyond what they found on websites and in brochures. Aditi reached out via social media to students already attending the colleges on her list. Jack was drawn to schools that place a priority on both academics and the arts and was less interested in institutional statistics than in what he could glean about student life. Both students, Dean Coffin notes, wrote engaging, authentic essays about themselves that were key to their successful applications.

A transcript of this podcast is available.