The Search Episode Ten Transcript

The Search
Episode Ten Transcript

 

Lee Coffin:
From Dartmouth College, this is Lee Coffin, vice provost for enrollment and dean of admission and financial aid. Welcome to The Search.

Our first nine episodes have covered a lot of ground, as we've touched as many topics as we can in each 30-minute conversation. But there's so much more to share as our series wraps up. So, let's think of this episode, Practical Matters, as speed round a quiz bowl. instead of one topic, we'll highlight a few in several shorter segments. We'll say hello to a long-time admission officer at Georgetown in Dartmouth, who will share some thoughts about how to interview. Two deans expand our sense of what counts if you're thinking about a college with a more focused curriculum like business or engineering, for example. And our pod pal, Kate Ramsdell, from Noble and Greenough makes a return visit to help you think about arts, athletic recruitment, in a speed round within a speed round. And we'll also say hello to a college coach.

As you're putting together your applications, one of the elements that might give you some jitters is this idea of a college interview. And so, thought it would be important to have a segment that thinks about interviewing as part of the storytelling. As an opportunity to learn about the college, but also to have the college learn about you. So, my guest is Meg Lysy, who is the director of the alumni admission's ambassador program at Dartmouth, which is a long way of saying she manages the alumni interviewers. Meg came to Dartmouth few years ago after a 10-year gig at Georgetown, where she was an admission officer and the admission officer in charge of the interviewing program there. Meg, thanks for joining me on the search to talk about interviewing.

Meg Lysy:
I'm thrilled to be here. Thanks for having me.

Lee:
You're welcome. How would you characterize the vibe of this interview? Is it conversational? Is it interrogation? What's the back and forth that they might expect?

Meg:
I've worked at three different schools and each has had a different approach. So, at some schools they're going to interview you when you're a prospective student, and that would be considered an informational interview. So, you might not even apply to the school. So, at that point, you're just finding out information on both sides. Some schools will only interview you once you've actually submitted your application. And at that point, someone will reach out to you and conduct the interview, and that's considered an evaluative interview. So that interview report will end up in your admissions file at that school. And at Dartmouth where I work now, the interview is an optional opportunity. At Georgetown, where I used to work, it's a required part of the application process.

Lee:
I always thought the interview is a really important moment when it was available to tell your story firsthand and to bring a person into a process that's often dominated by numbers and letters and forms. And when you have a chance to sit down one on one and have a conversation, in whatever format that looks like. But really, I would advise students thinking about interviewing to see it as a chance to just have a conversation about yourself, where you're introducing you to us. What kind of questions might a student be asked?

Meg:
The interview is probably going to span the spectrum from what classes you've loved in high school, a project that you've worked on in high school, extracurricular involvement, and one thing that absolutely will come up is why are you applying to this particular school? I think that it's really important that you have a great answer for what is compelling enough about this institution that you've chosen to apply to, and it's great for them to engage with you if you can know some ins and outs about that particular school and what makes it unique.

Lee:
Well, and I think the beauty of having either an alum or a senior, senior interviewers are the other version of interview that a lot of students will encounter, in both situations the student is talking to someone who is a member of the community in question. You can either get real first-time perspectives on, "These are the classes I'm taking, and this is what the culture is like, and this is what I love about being a member of this community." Or you've got an alum who can look back and say, "This is my experience and where it led me afterwards." So, in both ways, really valuable perspective.

Meg:
Yeah. And so if the student uses the interview as a chance to really open up and share details about a particular extracurricular or a particular experience, it really can help the admissions officer get to know the student better because something that was just a line on the application becomes this fully fleshed out, fully told story. Just don't rattle off your extracurriculars. Think carefully about one or two that you want the interviewer to walk away fully understanding and fully realizing. Because then they're going to have to write a report on your behalf and the more detail and when they can talk about the way your eyes kind of lighted up talking about your role in student government, or whatever it is, that's going to help the admissions officers see that extracurricular that you've had come to life.

Lee:
When I've done interviews, I would always try and disrupt the student's script when it was clear that they had arrived with preform bullets in their head, that they were then reciting, here's topic one, topic two, topic three. For those of you who are debaters, or who might be in drama club and who have a better skillset at memorizing and repeating, those were always really challenging conversations to disrupt that, like, "I'm going to just bulldoze my way through [crosstalk 00:06:24] I want to say, I would try and throw a question at them that got them onto a more conversational path, that then relaxed into this isn't admission officer versus you. This is the two of us having a conversation about you.

Meg:
And I think the other side of that coin could be a student that's dying to tell you about a job they had over a summer and they're waiting and waiting and waiting for the interviewer to ask, "Talk about what you've done over the summer," and the interviewer never asks. And the person ... The interviewee is too nervous to kind of speak up and say, "I do want ... Before the interview closes, I want to share with you this particular thing." And so, try to have control of where the conversation goes so that you make sure you say everything you want to say.

Lee:
Yeah. And I think the other topic that almost always comes up is a conversation about academics, and not, "I'm taking these six classes and getting these grades." That's not particularly interesting because I already know that. It's on your transcript. A better way of thinking about the academic component is what are your broad and emerging interests? So, if you tell me you're interested in political science as a potential major, I'm going to ask you questions about political science. If you're identifying yourself as someone interested in political science, government as a potential area of study, or biology or English, or keep going, those are questions I'm going to want to have a conversation with you about. If you say you're undecided, I used to poke and say, "So physics or theater or German?" And the student goes, "Oh my God, no, never German." I'm like, "OK." Having some ability to show some intellectual curiosity and engagement is also a good reflection, because it also gives the interviewer a way of saying, "You're thinking about studying what we do really well." And that's a way of sharing information from the college side. "Oh, you're really interested in environmental activism. So, are we? And here's some information around the program we have you can go and explore in more depth."

Meg:
Yeah. I would say for any topic you're going to bring up as the applicant, you should be able to answer the question, "Tell me more," three or four times as the conversation gets deeper and deeper. That's a great point.

Lee:
Yeah. Or just let the conversation guy ... I remember an interview I did with a young man where somehow, we started off on a topic about baseball. And we ended up talking about the rivalry between the Red Sox and the Yankees for the entire interview. And as we were leaving my office, he stopped and he said, "This was so much fun, and I never thought I would talk to an admission officer about baseball for the whole time." I said, "I learned a lot about you as you shared your insights about your love of baseball, and we got into the history and the statistics of it, and fan rivalries that said it was packed with info that you didn't even know you were sharing, because you were just talking organically about something you loved." And that's really the essence of a great interview.

What other tip, Meg, would you share with a rising senior who is going to have some interview opportunities in the coming months?

Meg:
Treat each interview as its own distinct experience, and when the interview closes, the interviewer is going to say, "What questions do you have for me?" And it shows your curiosity and the liveliness of your thought process and attention to this college search to have really specific questions for that person. And having good reason why you've applied to the school and also some genuine questions that you would like answered by your interviewer. Because again, that can create the conversation that you're just talking about in that exchange of ideas.

Lee:
How should a student dress for an interview?

Meg:
That's a good question. I think that you want to treat it as an important exchange, but you don't want to not be true to who you are. So, you don't want to put something on that doesn't feel completely comfortable and true to who you are. And I think how you dress is up to you, but you want to treat it like an opportunity to make a good impression and that you're taking it seriously.

Lee:
No, and I think that last sentence, an opportunity to make a good impression is really important. It's not a requirement that you show up in a suit or a dress. It's not like a business-kind of event. My funny interview story, I had a young woman come in to be interviewed, she wouldn't open her mouth, which was very strange. And at one point I said something which prompted her to laugh, and she had a huge spike through her tongue.

And I said, "Oh, that's really interesting and unexpected." And she put her hand over her mouth, and she said, "Well, you weren't supposed to see that." And I said, "Says who?" And she said, "My mother." And I said, "Why not?" And she said, "She thought you might misinterpret it." And I said, "Well, what does it tell me about you?" And she said, "ummm," and she smiled.

And I said, "Well, let me ask the question a different way. Who picked out your outfit this morning?" And she said, "My mother." And I said, "So if left to your own devices in your closet this morning, what would you have worn?" And she said, "Well, I'm really goth."

And I said, "Well see, now I would not have known that." And she said, "No, I normally wear a black. And the piercing is a reflection of my persona." I said, "Then that's the person... let's talk about that, because that's a true and authentic version of you." The rest of the interview was a completely different conversation. She was herself. She wasn't playing a role that she thought the admission officer wanted her to play, which I think is a really important point.

Now, when we read the interview report, we gleaned from it this really helpful information about your personality. I mean, they'll tell us things like, "He was really funny. He was so intellectually juiced. She was a lovely presence who shared really warm stories about her role in building community. She had a little bit of snark to her, and I loved the sarcasm that came through the conversation." And those are things that amplify other parts of the file, but I think are also really important ways of meeting a person in real time.

So, when you think about interviewing, whether you've done them yourself, or whether you're coordinating the interviewers, let's talk a little bit about the nerves that go into the student mindset as they approach the interview.

Meg:
Yeah, that's a great point. For many students, this'll be the first time they've sat for an interview and they don't really know what to expect. And they're sitting down with a stranger, and they're expected to be vulnerable and share their story with this person. I usually tell students that the first thing they need to do when they arrive at their interview is smile, even if they're quaking inside, and be enthusiastic.

Lee:
Meg, thanks so much for joining us on the search and sharing some insights about the role of an interview in the admission process.

For those of you thinking about applying to a large university, where there are multiple schools under that umbrella, for example, a school of arts and sciences, a school of engineering, a school of music, a school of journalism, there might be a separate set of requirements, and a separate set of opportunities to tell your story in that admission process.

So, my colleague Emily Roper-Doten is the Dean of Admission and Financial Aid at Olin College of Engineering in Wellesley, Massachusetts. And Courtney Minden is the Vice President for Enrollment Management and Dean of Admission and Financial Aid at Babson College, which is one of the leading institutions for business at the undergraduate level in the US.

Lee:
So, Emily and Courtney, hello, welcome.

Courtney Minden:
Hello.

Emily Roper-Doten:
Hello.

Lee:
Wanted to give the two of you the floor to talk about applicants to either of your type of institution, not necessarily Olin or Babson specifically, but I think most high school juniors presume that to be competitive in a business school or an engineering school, math is going to be the first and perhaps only criteria. So, is that, let's start true or false? Is that a fair way for them to be thinking about what counts?

Courtney:
False.

Lee:
False. Emily?

Emily:
False.

Lee:
Okay. Two falses. So why is it false?

Courtney:
Do you want to go Emily?

Emily:
Sure. I obviously math is a key component for engineers. It is one of the tools in the toolbox, but when we're looking at an applicant's transcript, we're not only looking for math in terms of a subject-specific exposure, we're also looking for science.

Specifically, for Olin, we're looking at physics. And that science piece may vary a little bit depending on the school, but we are certainly looking for exposure; what is the student's highest level of math and science with respect to the curriculum at their individual high school, to make sure that they're going to have a pretty seamless transition into the curriculum once they're on campus.

Because those are the key sort of core subjects that a student takes in high school, that they will then use once they're on our campuses in nearly every course that they're going to take that's in that sort of STEM area. Most of us will also have liberal arts requirements and things like that. But the core of what they're doing for an engineer, 60 to 70% of their curriculum is going to be in STEM and is going to touch math or science in some really deep way. So that exposure really is important.

Lee:
Emily, when you talk about math from an engineering context, are we talking about calculus?

Emily:
That's going to depend on the school.

Lee:
Okay.

Emily:
If you're talking about a place like Olin, they have to have calculus. It's a nonstarter. They have to have physics. It's a nonstarter if they don't.

But depending on the institution, particularly if you're looking at an engineering school within a larger university context, a student might be able to start at calc one and still graduate in four years with an engineering degree.

I think as you look at schools across a range of selectivities, the more selective, the more likely you're going to be leaning deeper and deeper into a calc one, or the more competitive students are actually in calc two in that BC calculus range. So, it depends a little bit on the institution. I think, particularly for an engineering school or program within a larger context, you can start at calc one, but that's going to certainly be influenced by the institution itself.

Lee:
Okay, and Courtney on the business side of college admission, does the math curriculum matter in that same way?

Courtney:
In some ways, yes. I think in terms of getting a student to reassure us that they are prepared for the quantitative curriculum, our faculty have told us that unless a student has some exposure to pre-calculus, they're actually going to struggle to the point of discomfort in the classroom.

And so, my staff has really used that as a springboard. And that's how we counsel our students, is to say as a junior, "I see you don't have pre-calculus, get on that now because that's going to help us know that you're not going to have a miserable time in the classroom. It's really just to make sure that you can handle the work."

But then when you think ahead to what business is, and what business provides, there is no one qualified to be in business if all they can do is math. They need to understand history, and politics, and foreign languages, diplomacy, HR... And so half of our curriculum for instance, at Babson is liberal arts.

So, I think one of the myths around a business education is that first of all you have to be this five-year, 10-year, 15-year plan person who does not want to diverge from said plan. And that you've been doing business, particularly entrepreneurial business, because that's what Babs is known for, pretty much from the womb.

We hear a lot of stories about lemonade stands, and seeker businesses, but it is actually okay if you're saying, "I want to be a singer, but I want to be able to manage myself." Or, "I want to go into law, but I'm going to have my own business. I can go to law school later, but I need to learn how to run a business first."

And so, we are looking for that kind of the texture, as a lot of us like to talk about of, "What skills are you bringing that you want us to turn into a business perspective?" And so, we [crosstalk 00:19:27]-

Lee:
So that's helpful.

Courtney:
... really have people in the arts who come to Babson.

Lee:
So, you're stretching us beyond the curriculum piece. So, the student in high school who thinks, "I'm going to business school, I'm good at math," or the student in high school who's says, "I'm acing in this physics test, I'm an engineer..." that's an important first building block.

But Courtney, you're pointing us towards the idea that businesspeople deal with people. So, some background in the way people populate the world, and that's certainly true of an engineer, and things are built for people to use them, right? Like where does that fit? Like how does a student showcase that part of their story in an application in either an engineer or a business context? Where does that information... is it the essay, or the recommendations? Like where do you turn first to start getting these clues

Emily:
So, I think it depends a little bit on the student where it is. But I often think about, our president at Olin often talks about an engineer as someone who envisions something that has never been and does everything, they can to make it happen.

Lee:
Interesting.

Emily:
So, he says that engineering doesn't start with math. It doesn't start with science; it starts with vision. And that vision comes from how do you engage with the world and understand the problems that are facing people, a person, a group of people, an area of the world.

And so for any engineering school that is sort of thinking about engineering in this problem-solving context, you're thinking about engineering itself, the math and science it's built on, are tools that you're using in order to enable problems to be solved, to understand what problems exist.

And so, I think for some students, it comes from the extracurricular list, right? We see students who are engaging in sort of pre-engineering activities. Robotics is, for lack of a better way to describe it, the gateway drug to engineering, right? Like a lot of students sort of bitten by engineering by doing FIRST Lego League, or something like that, that they have this early exposure to hands-on problem solving.

For some students it comes in the essay, because they're talking about where do they see their future going. And that may be directed by a specific essay prompt. Ours is, "What issue is facing the world that you think engineers should be working on? And how do you want to be a part of solving that problem?" So, we specifically make them answer that question.

But sometimes it's in the essay, sometimes it's in the recommendation and how the student thinks, and how they're able to demonstrate kind of an analysis and understanding of data points in their world that they can start to bring together to form a direction, that they're identifying something out of that data. So, it depends a little bit on the student. I think we probably see it most in extracurriculars and essays more than the recommendations.

Lee:
Well, what's interesting is that as I listened to you, you were talking about vision, and as a shoot off of vision, creativity and curiosity. Those two qualities in a student, coupled with aptitude in math and science start to form an equation that's spells, how's this for an engineering metaphor, that starts to spell success in this context. And Courtney, I think you were saying the same thing, not to put a word in your mouth, but I'm guessing collaboration might be something that emerges in your business-oriented world as something important.

Courtney:
Well, it is. It's important from the day you get onto campus because most of the classes at Babson, it's an excellent point, because most of the classes at Babson are taught based on team projects, teamwork. The signature experience in the first year is you're in a group that starts a business. So, if you can't learn to collaborate in your first semester of your first year, you're going to have a lot of trouble being a working member of this business. So, I think that you're right, it's collaboration. It's also the sense of why. Why as a 17-year-old, do you want to pursue a very specific line of thinking or training or discourse in that a lot of our peers, both Emily and mine, are part of bigger universities? And so, you could say, "I'm coming to be an engineer. I'm coming to go into business," and then three weeks in, you're a German major. You're a child development [crosstalk 00:02:02]. You're in the med program; you're out of the med program.

And so, we really want in the application process to see kind of this level of clarity around why business and why Babson. What we really spend a lot of time with students saying is that it's not a limiting decision. You can do thousands of different things. They're just going to be within a lens of business, but while you're telling us why you should be admitted through our particular supplement, which the question does always boil down to why business, why Babson. Please pitch us; tell us why we need to have you at Babson, and that's really where the good stuff comes up. I think the traditional essay, the personal statement, is a kickoff to who you are, but it's tailored to all the schools you're applying to, if you have many, and really gets down to, with the supplement, these are the experiences that led me to this moment, and I think that I can really benefit from a business degree. And those are what we really talk about in the committee room.

Lee:
For the last segment of this week's episode, we welcome back Kate Ramsdell from Noble and Greenough School for the only repeat visit on the podcast. So, hi, Kate, nice to see you again.

Kate Ramsdell:
[crosstalk 00:25:20] How are you?

Lee:
Great, and also say hello to my friend, Jay Civetti, who is the head football coach at Tufts University. Hi, Jay.

Jay Civetti:
Hey, how you guys doing really? Great to be here.

Lee:
We're doing really well, and Jay and Kate are going to spend some time talking with us about athletic recruiting. So, Kate, let's start with you. If you're a student athlete at whatever level, how do you start the conversation with the student and parents about beginning this conversation with colleges and their coaches?

Kate:
I mean, it goes back to what we talked about in our last session, which is thinking about your key criteria, right? So, you go back, and you really think about the fit for the college or the university, and you have to layer on top of it your special interests. So whatever sport that happens to be, we encourage the casting of a wide net at the beginning of the process, whether that's division one, division three. For some athletes that might be division two, thinking about where finances might fit in and whether that would come in the form of a scholarship or need based financial aid for some kids because I described last time, we might have buckets and negotiables and playing the sport might be a nonnegotiable for you. So, then you really need to center your search in some ways around that more directly.

Lee:
What's really interesting, as I listened to you describe that, is this particular piece of college admissions is a search within the search.

Kate:
Yeah.

Lee:
[crosstalk 00:26:47] You described a set of micro decisions that are going to add up to the big decision, and I never thought about it that way until I just heard you say that. When does the conversation begin around what division feels appropriate?

Kate:
I think it's a little bit sport specific, and maybe Jay could talk about that too. We have for women's hockey or some soccer programs and lacrosse sort of backed it off a little bit, but those were searches that were happening starting in their essay summer after eighth grade, right? I mean, for other sports, and I will say even football, basketball, and some other things, is actually later. I mean, I think for some kids, they're so extraordinary that the attention starts to heat up when they're younger. But I think that for particularly for boys, I think there are some sports where growing into yourself actually matters a great deal, and probably assessment of talent is better done when you're a little bit older. You have to work carefully and know your own sport and get a sense of when you need to show up where by getting good guidance and talking to your own high school coaches, but maybe your club coach.

Lee:
Yeah. So, Jay, from the coach's side of this question, how do you meet prospective recruits?

Jay:
It typically comes from two places, first and foremost from your high school coach. I think the relationship with your high school coach and the things that we value the most in particular with football, I think are those relationships that we have with those coaches, and being able to ask questions about whether they be commitment, leadership type of person you are on and off campus, your high school coach becomes a tremendous resource for you. The other place obviously I think is camps. Obviously, that's a big thing right now that isn't necessarily available, so it's kind of what is the alternative to that right now. And I think self-promotion is important, but I think you need to be really mindful and thoughtful about how you're promoting yourself.

Lee:
So, does that mean a resume or video clips? What should they be thinking about on the self-promotion part of this?

Jay:
Sure. I think you need to think about as many resources and tools that you can use right now to help showcase your athleticism, to show the things that are of interest to you. Use it as an opportunity, yes, for a living resume in a way. I think Twitter becomes a great tool to be able to do that.

Lee:
For posting clips of yourself competing and putting it on Twitter?

Jay:
Yeah. There are a number of platforms that are available that you can use for game film, and some high schools might use a particular one. For example, Huddle, for example, is one that's used by a lot of schools and a lot of student athletes. Being able to put together a highlight film, as we call it, which clearly identifies you doing as many things as you can within your individual sport to show in game what you're like, right? The other area that you're starting to see more kids put on online are them doing athletic things. Maybe it's doing agilities, running sprints, going over bags, shooting baskets, trying to use the available time now that the kids have on their hands and to replace what camps or clinics might typically provide for us to be able to see what you're capable of. It's one thing to watch film. It's another to interact with somebody and then even more so interact with that person and watch them do something live in front of you. You get a much better read on and clarity on what you're seeing on film.

Lee:
Mm-mm (affirmative). No, that makes sense because certainly athletics produces a lot of data, so people have times and stats that are helpful tools for a coach to understand, "Okay, what kind of power does this person bring to my team," but then there's athleticism more broadly. What was interesting, Jay, when you were talking about some of the more qualitative parts, you're also building a team. So, you're evaluating the person as well as the athlete, right, as you're trying to build a community within your locker room. So, what's an official visit?

Kate:
So, an official visit would happen at the division one level, and what it means is that the institution can pay for you to show up, can pay for your meals. It can last, I think, up to 48 hours, and that's it. And so, I think there becomes confusion for kids around what that really means. And at the D-1 level also, you can only take five, and so there are lots of rules and regulations. There are really strict guidelines around what that means, and so schools really need to adhere [crosstalk 00:09:49].

Lee:
The guidelines again are the NCAA.

Kate:
That's right.

Lee:
We're having this conversation. We've got this national organization that oversees all three divisions and conferences and teams and leagues within those divisions.

Jay:
There's a lot of flow charts and things that are available and graphics on NCAA.org that you can see. The difference of division one or division three is we obviously can't pay for travel. We can pay for meals while you're on campus, but it is the same. A student coming for an official division, and I'm quoting, you can't see this, but an official division three visit would be the same as if someone signed up through the admissions office to have a visit on campus as a normal student.

Lee:
And another distinction between D-1 and three is this idea of a scholarship, where in D-3, it's almost always a need-based scholarship. In D-1, it could be, depending on the league, an award that follows athletic talent.

Kate:
That's correct.

Lee:
Yep. That's correct. This is really complicated. This may be among the most complicated topics we've touched on the podcast because it's so specialized and the clause, it depends, kind of dances around this one. It depends on the school. It depends on the team. It depends on the conference. It depends on the division. And your head can pop off thinking about all of these different layers of it depends. So, if you're listening to this and you're a mom and dad or the athlete, and you're saying, "I don't go to a particularly sophisticated school. My coach probably doesn't know Kate Ramsdell. How do I make this happen? Am I doomed? How do I make this happen? If I see athletics as something that's really important to my eventual college experience, where's my path forward?"

Kate:
I think Jay made a really good point earlier when he said you need to reach out and you need to self-advocate. So, I think at a very basic level, you do need to do some research to figure out for your sport what's valued and most important. You need to pull together an email to coaches that includes things like your transcript, maybe a link to a highlight film, a little bit broader sense. Every high school in this country has a school profile. Maybe a link to that profile so that the coach could get a broader sense in the admissions office of what your high school is and where you're coming from.

And I think too that, I always say to my kids, I mean, your self-advocacy, you can't turn yourself into a division one athlete with self-advocacy. Either that is or it isn't. But certainly, coaches are getting so much communication from kids that if you really know that you love a school and you haven't heard back from a coach after your first outreach, you got to reach out again. And at a point it will become clear whether or not you're interesting to them. But I think that the piece that says be a little bit of a squeaky wheel, particularly at the beginning and on the right timeline, can be really bad.

Jay:
And it is going to get exhausting reaching out to all these coaches, but at least try to cast a big enough net, fill out online questionnaires, because we all have them. You can find information on any coach's contact information. Like football coaches usually recruit by region. Find the coach that recruits your region, send him an email or her an email. And to backup what Kate's saying, don't worry about bothering us. We'll tell you if you're bothering us too much. Right?

Kate:
Right. Right. And recognize too that different sports and different divisions have different levels of support in terms of how many coaches are in the office and who can get back to you. Not everybody has a huge staff and somebody who does that. So, it just can take a little bit of time.

Lee:
So, hustle counts.

Kate:
Hustle counts.

Lee:
Hustle counts.

Jay:
Always does, always will.

Lee:
Thank you. Well, thanks to both of-

Kate:
[crosstalk 00:35:50] does on the field.

Lee:
Thanks to both of you for sharing your wisdom on this. Kate, I wonder, before we wrap the segment, if I can add one more extracurricular topic to your counseling playlist. How about those people listening saying, "Well, I'm not an athlete." I sing or I'm an actress or I dance." Where do the arts come into this conversation about self-advocacy? I mean, some places will have an audition if they're more of a conservatory type program. But what if you're just the star of the spring musical, and you want to share that part of yourself with the college? Where does that fit?

Kate:
So what we would say is in some ways like a recruiting process, if it's an area of talent that you have and you'd like to showcase it to a college, first of all, you have to figure out who values it, right? You sort of have to do your homework and figure out which colleges will value it. And I give admissions offices credit. If you do a little bit of digging, you do a pretty good job of telling applicants across the board at many schools, "We'll accept a portfolio and our department will review it" or, "If you send us a portfolio, we're not going to look at it." Right? I mean, actually there are colleges and universities that say that. So, I think that's step one.

I think also deciding what role you want it to play in your undergraduate education. So, will music be your major or your minor? Will theater be your major or your minor? Is this purely a co-curricular pursuit? And that can have a different impact I think when you're looking at a school.

And then the other piece is getting your orchestra instructor or your voice lesson teacher or whoever that person is to sort of assist you and help you because what I have found is that oftentimes because of their own networks, they know people at different colleges, right? They can help to connect you. So, we say to kids, like an athlete might write to a coach, you're going to write to somebody in the music department, or you should take the time to reach out to a professor in the theater department. And if you don't hear from them, try somebody else and make your way. And again, it's a little bit of that self-advocacy. And then try to get a handle on whether or not whatever it is that you do is something that could be beneficial in the admissions process because sometimes a theater director can also nudge the admissions office and say, "This is a person that I'd really like to have in my program for these reasons." And again, it's never going to be the only reason somebody gets in in a non-conservatory setting, but it's a really important thing to do.

Lee:
Yeah. And what's interesting is I connect athletics to the arts. I'm also thinking Dartmouth has a great debate program and that coach weighs in on debaters that have crossed his path at different competitions. And so, across this landscape of a campus community, there are areas of talent that emerged that we value. And I think whether you're an artist or an athlete or a debater or a figure skater or ultimate Frisbee player or whatever the what is, make sure you take the time to highlight that for us.

This is a moment to toot your horn. Don't be obnoxious. Being confident about your talent is not the same thing as being a bragger. It's just knowing that the application is a platform to tell your story. And if this piece of your story matters to you, highlight it in whatever medium, in whatever way, with whatever advocates you can corral on your behalf.

Well, Jay and Kate, thank you for spending time with us on The Search, Kate for doing it twice. It's been an interesting conversation.

Jay:
Thanks for having us.

Kate:
Thank you, Lee.

Lee:
You're welcome.

We're nearing the finale of our weekly conversations about college admissions. So, it's time to invite you to participate with more than your earbuds. Our series finale will be an ask me anything episode in which you get to raise your virtual hand. We've covered a lot of topics. Maybe we skipped something that's on your mind. Perhaps you'd like me to revisit a topic for one last comment or two. You tell me. The pod mic is all yours. To pose a question, just record one on your phone and email the audio file to thesearch@dartmouth.edu, that's thesearch@dartmouth.edu, by August 3rd. Please introduce yourself with your first name, your high school and your hometown. And of course, questions from parents and college counselors are welcome too. Ideally your questions should be open ended enough so it applies to everybody. If you have a more personal question, send an email to the same address and we'll be happy to respond to you one on one.

Coming up next, we'll peek inside the admission committee as we explore how a college shapes a class and builds community and give you some insight from behind the scenes. Until then, this is Lee Coffin from Dartmouth College. Thanks for listening.