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
Episode 8: Junior Jitters
Episode 9: Scholarship Dollars and Sense
Episode 10: Practical Matters

Episode 11: Shaping a Community
Episode 12: Admissions Then and Now
Bonus Episode: Ask Me Anything

 

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!

BONUS EPISODE:

EPISODE 12:

Admissions Then and Now

As the world remains gripped by a health pandemic and buffeted by economic distress, many high school juniors and seniors are wondering, "Is it worth it? Should I just take a gap year, and defer college for while?" The answer, of course, varies with each student. In this episode, Vice Provost for Enrollment and Director of Admissions and Financial Aid Lee Coffin invites a director of college counseling, a former dean of admissions, and a journalist who covers higher education to talk about what has changed in college admissions, and what remains the same.

A transcript of this podcast is available.

 

EPISODE 11:

Shaping a Community

One of the most important jobs of any school admissions team is also among the most difficult to describe: shaping a vibrant college community. In this episode, Lee Coffin, vice provost for enrollment and director of admissions and financial aid, invites two other deans to help him explain how they do it. The episode ends with a compelling collage of student voices, as they describe themselves in their own words.

A transcript of this podcast is available.

 

EPISODE 10:

Practical Matters

While The Search has focused on liberal arts colleges, many students are applying to more specialized programs, including business and engineering. This episode focuses on what counts in those applications. Lee Coffin, vice provost for enrollment and director of admissions and financial aid, also gathers a wide assortment of colleagues to address issues and questions that have surfaced from previous episodes and invites listeners to submit their own questions for a future episode, called "Ask Me Anything."

A transcript of this podcast is available.

 

EPISODE 9:

Scholarship Dollars and Sense

Getting into the college of your dreams is one thing. Paying for it is another. But, too often, families don't think and talk together about the full price of higher education—tuition, room and board, books, transportation—until much too late in their search. And the real cost of attendance depends on the availability of financial aid, which can seem like a maze of eligibility requirements. In this episode, Lee Coffin, vice provost for enrollment and dean of admissions and financial aid, and his Dartmouth colleague, Financial Aid Director Dino Koff, demystify the process.

A transcript of this podcast is available.

 

EPISODE 8:

Junior Jitters

In March, when COVID-19 closed high schools, eleventh graders found themselves stuck at home, unable to meet with advisers who would normally help them find colleges that are right for them. So, they've had to start their research remotely, visiting websites and using social media. In this episode, Lee Coffin, vice provost for enrollment and dean of admissions and financial aid, talks with three rising seniors from the Academy of the Pacific Rim, an unusual charter school in Hyde Park, Mass. Many of its graduates are the first in their families to attend college.

A transcript of this podcast is available.

 

EPISODE 7:

EPISODE 6:

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.

 

EPISODE 5:

EPISODE 4:

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.

 

EPISODE 3:

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.

 

 

EPISODE 2:

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.

 

 

EPISODE 1:

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.