The Search, S2, Episode Nine Transcript

The Search

Podding Together

Lee Coffin:    
From Dartmouth College, I'm Lee Coffin, dean of admission and financial aid. Welcome to the series finale of "The Search."

As the saying goes, all good things must come to an end, and I think that is especially true with storytelling. It's important to recognize the moment when everything that needed to be said has been said. Now, I was really disappointed, maybe even heartbroken, when I heard that Schitt's Creek had called it a wrap after six seasons, but I appreciated Dan Levy's perspective. The story had been told.

Dear listeners, "The Search" has reached that same narrative milestone. Like a college search itself, this podcast about a virtual college search during a pandemic has reached its conclusion. We're mostly vaccinated, our masks are coming off and the reunion with each other is about to happen. So, after 22 episodes across two seasons, we end with one last conversation as a quasi-summary of the many conversations we've had. Over 22 episodes I welcomed a real parade of people through this pod, all of whom were my friends or friend-adjacent: 10 guidance and college counselors bringing wisdom from their side of the industry process, 11 admission officers, 10 of whom were deans, 14 students, many of whom had just completed their search, four parents, three financial aid officers, and 10 special guests— a coach, a former dean, a former journalist, people who had something to say on the topic at hand.

My guest today for this final pod isn't really a guest. She's been right there with me for every second of this podcast as we were figuring out how to find our editorial voice. For our season series finale, Charlotte Albright, my wise and wonderful pod producer and friend, unmutes herself as she shares the insights she's gleaned from listening to literally hundreds of hours of raw tape as each of our 90 or so minute recordings was distilled into the 40-minute episode we aired each week. A retired journalist (but I suspect once a journalist, always a journalist) Charlotte hosted a politics show for Maine Public Television. She also worked as a reporter for Vermont Public Radio.

So, Charlotte, finally, welcome to "The Search."

Charlotte:   
Well, thank you. I feel like I'm being welcomed, in a way, into my own home.

Lee Coffin:  
I know.

Charlotte:
... because that's where we both have been. The only better thing would've been if we could have been in the same space, but it always felt that way.

Lee Coffin:    
Yeah, it's true. As we had these conversations, the idea that all of you have been digital has escaped me. Just the conversations have flown, and with you, I mean I would see you a couple of times a week. It didn't feel like we were so far apart, but here we are, one more time.

Charlotte:    
Here we are, the band's back together. Well, I have to tell a little secret. I always love to let people into secrets so that they know that this is worth tuning into. You're going to learn something for a minute that nobody else knows, which is that when we first started talking about doing an admissions podcast in the Office of Communications at Dartmouth College, my friend, Lee Coffin, was not so sure he wanted to do it.

Lee Coffin:    
That's true.

Charlotte:    
You're a very busy guy, there was a lot going on. So we put it on the shelf for a while, and then the pandemic hits, and you're all over it. This is something you really want to do as soon as the pandemic hit. So my first question is, what was the difference?

Lee Coffin:    
Yeah, I'm smiling and nodding as I remember not so much my resistance to it. I just wondered, where would I fit it into the day-to-day, rough and tumble of work as a Dean of Admission? When the pandemic hit, I think I've said this a few times in different episodes, we couldn't go anywhere. All of us were in our homes saying, "How do we continue to meet each other and continue a conversation," when historically, I would go on the road a good chunk of every year and visit schools, do programs, spent a lot of time on airplanes. I haven't been on an airplane since February 3rd, 2020 coming back from a school program in San Francisco. When we found ourselves in pandemic, and Zoom jumped into all of our vocabularies not just as a verb but as a, almost a day of the week.
    

I started joking that I had Zoom days, they would just kind of go endlessly, and I couldn't tell you if it was Tuesday or Friday. It was just a Zoom day. And the podcast became a really fun platform to be able to do what I love to do, have a conversation with students, parents, college counselors, the world broadly about this mysterious job I have that everybody seems to care about in some way or another, particularly during the last two years of high school. And I became a convert because I saw both the magic of podding. I hadn't listened to many podcasts originally, and I've now become something of a pod connoisseur where I've got a long queue popping into my earbuds all the time. And I've really loved it.
    
At the end of season one, I said this was the best part of my lost spring of 2020, and it's a year almost to the day when episode one aired. So if I look at it in a full calendar year, it is the thing I'm most proud of, and it's something that while this series ends, I will expect another series to pop into my brain sometime soon.

Charlotte:    
As I started this project with you, the first thing that struck me was that you have so much in common with the students you are trying to reach. And that's what made you a very empathetic host. And by that, I mean that you were the first member of your family to attend college, and that story came up a lot. And it seemed to me to be very important to you that you tell people about that experience of yours. Why?

Lee Coffin:    
It's relevant to the role, and it's been relevant to this podcast and its story telling as a way of saying particularly students who are the first in their family to go to college, but to all of them, I relate to the journey you're on. I have not forgotten how the idea of going to college was always something very present in my childhood, in my adolescence, but I wasn't quite sure how to make that happen. It was more of an idea than a fact, and I always think about my mom, who was a secretary for a couple of years before I was born and spent the last 50 something years at home with kids and grandkids. And she was the one, more than anyone in my early thinking about college who said, "You're going to college."

And her practical wisdom about where she saw her eldest child-headed became something that I owned, so that when I meet other students from backgrounds like mine, I see other parents having a dream of college as an opportunity that they are desperate to have their kids attain. And then, more broadly, for all parents, I think those families where mom and/or dad, moms and dads went to college themselves, they understand what the experience represents and how, in the classroom, outside of the classroom, it reorients the way you see the world, what you learn, who you are, and that's what's kept me in this job for 31 years.

Charlotte:    
And I think it's also inspiring that not only do you tell that story and present us with your young self, but let's face it. You've risen to the top of your field. So that's another aspirational goal that students can have for themselves as they think about why go to college at all. But even though you are at the top of your field, I would hazard a guess that during this two seasons of podcasting and this unusual season of being an admissions officer, you were still surprised by a couple of things. I certainly was. My surprise was so many students applied at a time when we predicted it would be very daunting to even think of applying with the help of your guidance counselor, not knowing whether your parents were going to have any money, if you had the grades, the testing thing question was so up in the air. I expected a decrease in applications.

Lee Coffin:    
Yeah, I did, too.

Charlotte:    
So what happened?

Lee Coffin:    
Yeah. So I've said this a couple times on campus when faculty and trustees have said, "Wow, look at this increase!" And if you were to look in my journal for last spring, even into the fall, I was anticipating a contraction. I thought people aren't visiting, we aren't traveling, everything's virtual. People are taking classes through these little squares. It just felt like the year where volume would fall off. And I think I started to rethink that as we moved through the early fall, and I heard my colleagues in admissions saying, "These Zoom high school visits are getting huge." And colleague who would usually do international travel said, "I would see 100 or 200 people in a hotel ballroom when we visited a city with two, three, five other college. We're seeing 1,000 per virtual city as we do these programs."
    
And that kept replicating itself across all the touchpoints. So that was part of it. We, virtually, were able to remove geography as a barrier to engagement. We didn't have to say, "You want to learn about Dartmouth? Somehow get yourself to Hannover, New Hampshire to participate, or we come to you to participate." So without travel as an element, everybody was able to meet in one of these Zoom spaces in much more regular contact. And then I think people were nervous. I think that came through a lot of the conversations, particularly with students. No one knew what was coming, and my instinct when I finished the year-end research is "I'll see our pool applied to more colleges."
    
I think there's evidence of that already from the school side. There was a student on the news the other day who got into 29 colleges. And I went, "Oh my God." So to the degree that there was over applying, that buoyed the pools. And I think the lack of testing, most of us this year, gave permission to some people to say, "Well, let's see what happens." As an admission officer, I've spent years and years talking about testing as one element among many. Nobody really believes that that's true. So when you remove it as a requirement, I think it gave a permission structure to try and see what happened, and it led to this really huge pool, not just at Dartmouth but at many places. Didn't see that coming.

Charlotte:    
The takeaway for me from all that was, and I think you and I both agree that some of our very favorite moments were the moments when students, juniors in high school, seniors in high school were our guests on the podcast. They were shining lights, and I'm so glad that they were willing to put themselves forward like that. That has to be hard. You don't know if what you say on this podcast is going to get you into college or not with this guy that's hosting it. And they were brave, and they were articulate, and it was my favorite part.
    
And what I heard from them was, the pandemic did not affect their passion, their curiosity, their sheer drive to move beyond high school. The pandemic didn't touch that. It touched some of the ways in which they would pursue it, but that was a constant in all of those students. There wasn't a single faltering voice like, "I don't know if I want to go to college." No, no, no. They all wanted to go to college. To me, that means that that's a universal truth, right? It was universally true in 1900 for anybody that could afford it, and hopefully it's universally true for more people now.

Lee Coffin:    
Yeah. I think, at least in the kind of college where I work, we have seen continued interest. I mean, what is sobering is some of the news out of the college board, the common application and the National Association of College Admission, that fewer low-income, first-gen students applied to college nationally than they did a year ago. And it's a reminder, as we talk about volume and on the surprising happy outcomes that happened at the Dartmouths of the world this year, that wasn't universally true. And for me, back to my first-gen identity, it's a reminder that I work in a pretty special place. It's got resources to do things that a lot of places can't. It's got visibility. And that buoyed us through what would have been a tough year by any standard.

Charlotte:    
Well, everybody this year, during a pandemic, whatever their line of work, had to flex. They had to stretch. And you're no exception. I mean, you have always known how to interview people. You wanted to be a journalist when you were in college, and you landed in admissions, but admissions is a job that involves interviewing people. You ask questions of students all the time. But this kind of interviewing that you've been doing for the podcast is different from that. Did you learn anything about how to do it? I saw you learn those things.

Lee Coffin:    
I know. I did. As I listened to season one, in particular, I heard myself getting more comfortable in the open-endedness of one of these conversations. And I was doing interviews earlier in my career where students would come to campus, and I would sit there and have a conversation... Well, I would sit there with them for the interview, and sometimes it became a conversation. I think what I learned how to do in the podcast is sometimes stop looking at my notebook at what question I wanted to ask in which order and just let it go and trust that the people on that episode often got us where we needed to go by the end. And sometimes your magic would rearrange things just a smidge, but I...

Charlotte:    
Not much. Not much, really.

Lee Coffin:    
So I learned that, and I was struck in season one by the wisdom of the high school seniors we met in some of those episodes who had been totally upended by COVID. As their senior year was reaching its most romantic, pivotal moment, and they were disappointed but unbowed by it. And I've been impressed all year by how quickly younger people who are more native to the digital landscape have adapted and how those of us who remember our pre-internet way of communicating, which seems to ancient at this point, but I think it's been harder on people in their late 40s and up who might have depended on the in-person style of communication and being. And that definitely was something that stretched in a very elastic way.

I think what's going to be interesting, Charlotte, as the world reopens is how many parts of the work we do in college admissions bounce back to what was true in early March 2020 and how much we have sort of a hybrid where some of the work remains Zoom-based because it's worked. I've been using a lot about admissions pre-COVID was a system built in the mid to late 20th century that we just kept doing. And the pandemic didn't invite an opportunity, it demanded an opportunity to say, "Okay, this doesn't work anymore." You can't have a campus tour, I can't fly off to Miami to do a program. We got to rethink this. And in the rethinking, I think some new things emerged that had been useful.

Charlotte:    
So because I absolutely agree, your interviewing skills are unparalleled now, do you have any questions for me?

Lee Coffin:  
Hm. I was curious, now, as a journalist. I mean, you very patiently sat in your Zoom square for all of these hours of recording. Occasionally, you'd interrupt us and say, "Hey, back up and ask a different question, or I wish you'd asked this." And then we'd add it in. But what was your "aha" as you listened? I mean, you went to college. You had kids that had gone to college. You've got grandchildren that with ultimately go. What surprised you, maybe as a journalist, but also just as somebody who has witnessed this from a parent seat yourself?

Charlotte:    
And I should add, too, that I taught in college all my life off and on while doing journalism. I've always straddled those two worlds. I think of journalism and teaching as allied professions. I mean, journalism is teaching. So I guess I was thinking through a teacher's mind as well, and I think what I have failed to do until this podcast is truly appreciate what goes into admissions. Right? Because we show up as teachers, and the seats are filled. You deliver these students to us, and the amount of thought that goes into that, I think I understood that abstractly as a journalist, but journalists can be a little snide, they can be a little cynical, they can be skeptical of college administrators.
    
Not that I would ever think that of you because we've been friends for a long time, but just watching you interact with these people made me realize that admissions is the absolute bulwark of the college experience. It is the foundation, without which there'd be nothing. And I don't think I really appreciated that until this podcast so that when my students show up at Northern Vermont University next fall, where I am teaching journalism, I will see them in a new light. I will think, "Wow. You have been brought to me." And I will feel a lot more grateful. That was my "aha".

Lee Coffin:    
That's interesting because I think I've always wondered why the media focuses on admissions so much, and it's accelerated. Twenty years ago, there was an occasional story. Now, I feel like there's a lot of stories. Do you think it's because they're suspicious? As a journalist, what fuels the admissions beat at so many high visibility outlets?

Charlotte:    
Well, let's think back to Heath Monsma, who is a budding journalist, so good in fact that you gave him the podcast chair last episode. He was the guest host. He will be entering Dartmouth this fall, and he put these questions to you as a journalist would. It's a crapshoot, right? Getting into a selective college is a crapshoot. And as I think he understood by the end of the episode, it isn't, really. There are very sort of clear criteria by which people get in, and they are expressed from the get-go. Students know what benchmarks they need to meet to get into these schools. It's not that mysterious. It's not smoke and mirrors. It's not like choosing the Pope, as you said in the first episode. It's not like that at all.
    
But I do think there is a misunderstanding about that in the press that somehow, only rich donor's kids get in, or only students with perfect board scores get in. And I think if you listened to this podcast, you realize that it's really much more about building a community. Imagine if we could build our own communities that we live in, as you say, there wouldn't be 95,000 senior class presidents. That would be unbearable. So the idea that you and your colleagues are creating a learning community, diversity is not just something that colleges trumpet to market themselves. It's actually the reason that college is an important experience because you're going to encounter people unlike yourself. So I think that came through to most of our guests, but I'm not sure the media always understands it.

Lee Coffin:    
No, that's interesting. It points me towards a phrase I've used just last week in a talk I gave where admission officers map the future. We run four five years ahead of a campus, and try to imagine what would it look like when the students we're meeting in high school arrive and then start to populate the community? And as we're mapping that future, I've always been intrigued by how do you use admissions to start to shift the way a community, a society, how we see ourselves, how we move forward. And I'm very mindful as I look at the class of 2025 as they're about to enroll in September. They'll be 22 in 2025, which means they were born in 2003-ish. And if they work until they're 65, assuming that's still a yardstick, that brings to almost 2070.
    
The 80-year-olds today, if they went to college, were enrolled in the 60s, and what did the perspectives they gleaned from those experiences, how did that contribute to the way the world developed during their careers and lifetimes? How did they vote as a result of who they met in college? And since I was in college, the globalization of all of our classes has been so dramatic. I can't remember any international students in my class in college. I'm sure they were there, but I couldn't recall them today. And now, it's a sizeable percent live outside the United States, and you start to see the future right there, that you graduate from college in 2025, '26, '27, pick a career that won't have some international connection to it, and you start to replicate that experience in the undergraduate community.
    
And that's really idealistic. So I just went to the philosophic part of my brain, but it's part of the way I think about the work I do and lead for this campus because to your point about being in a classroom and students march in and take a seat and stare at you and say, "Teach me," they're particularly on the selective side of the rainbow. Those seats have been intentionally populated. And you can't always say, "I'm admitting Charlotte, and Charlotte's going to come." But the idea of Charlotte or multiple Charlottes with the hope of getting a few of you into an entering class, that's how you start to bend the trajectory of the community of a campus. And as they graduate, then you look at our mission statement to educate leaders in whatever field to make an impact on the world. That's a lofty sentence, but you back that up into college admissions, and we're all doing some version of that through the story telling to high school juniors and seniors to the way we invite them to tell their story with us.
  
I think story telling is the word that just keeps coming up. As I've listened to all the episodes after you've edited them, I've been surprised by how many times I say that.

Charlotte:    
Yeah. We have been collectors, purveyors, sharers of stories in this podcast. It really hasn't been a clipboard style, how to check off this thing on the list sort of production. It's been much more about story telling. So I guess I'll throw the question back at you that you just asked me. Now that it's over, do you know anything that you didn't know before?

Lee Coffin:    
I don't know if I've had a moment to kind of step away and be that reflective. I'm reminded at the ripe age of 57 that you're never too old to learn something new. I joked, I wasn't a podcaster when the pandemic began, but here we are. And I learned that you can re-interpret what you think your talents are and find new ways and new media that let you share that talent, that perspective. So that's been fun. I think it's reinforced, for me, in all the different conversations the concept that the selective colleges in the United States do walk the talk around holistic review, that we really do value the whole person, that the act of reading a file, putting together a class is still individualized even in the midst of volume, that there is subjectivity because there must be.
    
But it's still intentional. I didn't learn that, but it kept coming back to me as I listened, and it also reinforced for me how much you observed the student part as being kind of a really fun element. As a dean, as a vice provost and dean, I'm a degree removed from students at this point in my career, and I think what you watched as I interviewed them, just how much I've always enjoyed that part of the job. That counseling part of the job is what created me and this work in the early 90s. I didn't look up the job and say, "Yeah, let's manage some spreadsheets." I was really drawn to working with students and talking to them and listening to them and helping them imagine the place that was the right place for them at that moment in time as they understand themselves.
    
That's the other takeaway that gets lost in this is you're 17, 18, maybe 19. You make a decision. I mean, who among us looks back to our 18 year old self and says, "I didn't change at all." So what was right for me in the spring of 1981 was unique to me at that moment in my life, in that moment in history.

Charlotte:    
One of the opportunities this podcast gave you and me, by extension, was that people kept asking you why do you do this? You had to actually tell yourself that while you were on the podcast. I mean, how many times do we ask ourselves these questions about why we do what we do? In the end, it seemed to me that you were more sure than you even were at the beginning, that you were cut out for this work, that this is something that is important and not just because it's a job.

Lee Coffin:    
Yeah. I think it's more. I mean, for me, it's been my profession. It's been not the thing I thought I would do when I was in high school or even in college or even a year or two into post-college. But as I realized, no, this is where I'm going to make my impact, I'm going to commit myself to doing this. For ten years, I taught a seminar at Harvard Graduate School of Education, and I said to the program director, "The act of teaching that seminar made me a better dean" because each unit I prepare, the readings and the conversation and the papers ultimately that I had to read and grade, forced me to think about the definition of merit or affirmative action or what does access mean as a concept for higher ed and social mobility. What is the role of standardized testing?
    
When you look at it from an academic standpoint, it helped me think through these things as a dean, and the podcast did something similar, topic by topic, as I would sit with my pen and map out, "Okay, what's the editorial arc of season one?" I didn't really ever think there was a season two, but there was. But as I kind of went through the 22 episodes, the question was, how do I map out a search, find the right voices to animate that topic in the way that's reassure, not intimidating? And in preparing for each of the episodes and having the conversation and then working with you on the edit, it did inform, re-inform, the way I understand the work I do.
    
So you're right. I think, go back to the first episode we recorded, and it's been April 2020. I mean, we were all kind of scared. I don't really know any of us... I don't think any of us knew what was coming, said Dr. Fauci. As I listened to these episodes and think, "Oh, I hope this was a podcast that told a story of college admissions during a pandemic." But I think someone could listen to these episodes five years from now. They're applying to the class of 2030. I think the ideals and the content are still true. College admission is ultimately about managing a scarce resource, and it's about changing lives and bringing social mobility to a lot of important places, but on campus, I have 1,150 seats. And you have to use those limited number of opportunities to sculpt something dynamic and magical without saying, "Well, I wish I had 50 more." I don't.

Charlotte:    
You just mentioned scarce resource, and I know that there's also a political side to you that you can't always show because you're representing a school, as you said. So speaking for yourself and not for Dartmouth, have you thought of ways to make this resource, not just Dartmouth, but college in general, less scarce? Are there policies? Are the political choices that we might make as a society to make it less scarce?

Lee Coffin:    
Well, speaking as, Lee, I, for my whole career, have been surprised by the pretty striking disparity between independent schools and public schools and the [inaudible 00:35:05] of zip code almost, like which town you live in and how strong the school system is in the town and where do you live. And that gets back to your first question about being first-gen and a public school kid, and I'm just mindful of all towns aren't equal. All people in all towns don't have the same resources, and I wish there were more conversation during elections at all levels about K-12 education and the expansion of a pipeline instead of focusing this admission conversation on 11th and 12th grade where, by that point, the cake is kind of baked.
    
So I think I would welcome that. The other thing I think has come through many of these episodes is my deep commitment to need-based financial aid. I wonder if it's time to pull apart the free application for federal student aid. So President Biden, Vice President Harris, if you're listening, take a look at FAFSA and ask, "Is this form forged in the 19070s still true?" We follow it, but does it give us a fair representation of a family's ability to pay across the multiplicity of families that now use it? I think those two things in combination could open different doors that may be ajar now, but you have to work harder to get through.
    
So Charlotte, as you listen to all of these episodes and all of these minutes. What was your favorite moment, or couple of moments? When you think back, what do you remember with a smile?

Charlotte:    
I was an education reporter, really, in Vermont. So I'm always surprised by how few stories, how few pieces of journalism about education include students in them. So my bias in working with you on this was always—and I never got a fight from you—was always to invite student voices. Some of the kids from schools that we don't hear about much in the news, they are schools that are remarkable places. You just mentioned K-12, remarkable platforms and growing medium for students from the very first grade on. So when we got those juniors, we had an episode called Junior Jitters. I think that was my favorite one because they were candid. They were understandably nervous, and yet they knocked my socks off, those kids.
    
They were never hesitant to speak their minds, and they were eloquent. I'm not surprised by that. I mean, when I used to interview students as a journalist, I certainly had that same feeling that we don't always appreciate how mature high school students are and how much they have to offer. And it's also why I end this second season with so much hope. You mentioned 2070. Well, I'm 70 now. So I'm leaving the world to these people, and I am much more hopeful now, despite climate problems, despite wars, despite conflict, despite economic reversals, slings and arrows, politically. All of that stuff was going on in the news as we were doing these podcasts, and when I would walk away from one of those student voices, I just always had a smile on my face.

Lee Coffin:    
Mm-hmm (affirmative). Yeah. I'm smiling as I listen to you. Yeah. I think that's right. There's something hopeful about college admissions despite the angst and despite the narrative that swirls around it, the numbers create a story line not unlike a political campaign where the polling guides the way the story gets writing. And I think people grab the acceptance rate and other data points from the work we do, and that becomes a narrative, sometimes the narrative, and it's like, "No, you're missing a lot of the nuance here."
    
I couldn't answer my own question about a favorite moment. I had so many moments when I smiled. I loved when Rashad was reading his essay to Meredith in episode seven, I think, of season one. Like I said, I really loved the banter in the My Neighbor Says episode. I also go back to the very first episode when we met Jack and [inaudible 00:40:15], and they kind of set us off with a lot of fireworks with their charm and pizzazz. It's been a really fun, interesting, rewarding way to spend a good chunk of time over the last year with you, Charlotte.

Charlotte:    
It's been enormous fun, Lee. I look forward to every single episode, and I just hope that they have a long life in the ether.
    
So as we bring this last episode to the close, I'm reminded that you always do what I call a homily. I'm an Episcopalian, born and bred, and so that's kind of a word from the pulpit at the end of a church service. It wraps everything up. This whole episode has wrapped up a season, but how do we wrap up the episode with your homily?

Lee Coffin:    
I appreciate the word homily because I think it is a way of summarizing and putting some perspective on it. I guess my homily over two seasons worth of conversation would be the idea that a college search is a rite of passage for all of us, no matter when you start looking outside the walls of high school and looking to higher ed, no matter where that place might be. It is a journey to the next chapter in your life. I have intentionally framed this series on the selective side of college admission as opposed to more universal side because I think a lot of energy, angsty energy sits on the selective side where it's harder to get in.
    
So this series was designed to help students who are imagining that journey to take those steps with some confidence that they have the toolkit to do it. And The Search, from conception, when juniors and you're discovering through the sorting of what matters and what doesn't to the active applying and using an application to tell your story and several component parts, to getting in, asking can you afford it, and ultimately saying, "Has one place emerged as a place where I see myself being a happy, successful student?" I mean, that's the search from start to finish.
    
My hope for all of you listening to this, as I sign off, is that any of these episodes, all of them, re-listen to them when you need to, gives you some reassurance that you have the story telling skill in you to bring yourself forward as an applicant, even at the most selective places in the country, to do it with authenticity, to do with heart, to do it with analytical awareness when you need to, but ultimately, to follow your own compass, to not get distracted by the voices around you saying, "Don't do that, or maybe do this." You know what's right for you. And if I have one last piece of wisdom, there it is, to be your own best advisor and to follow the voice that says, "This is what I want." And I hope, wherever that journey brings you, you're happy because at the end of the day, that's the most important thing.
    
So, I mentioned in one of the episodes that I was president of the drama club in high school, and performing has always been part of what I do. And one of the favorite moments of a performance was curtain call and just coming out and taking a bow. So Charlotte, take a bow for the work you've done with me over these 22 episodes, and what's your concluding thought?

Charlotte:    
Working with you has been like working with a fellow performer, but deeper than that, somebody who knows how to convey the truth. And that's what I think true dramatic arts are, a deeper truth than we get in the newspaper. So doing that with you has been an honor. And I have a feeling that there might be a second act. Who knows?

Lee Coffin:    
Thank you, that's really kind. Keep us subscribed, as they say in pod land because while The Search has reached its final chapter, I have a feeling this little hammy dean has another story to tell. I just haven't figured it out yet. So stay tuned for another series from yours truly and Charlotte in your future. But until I reappear in your pod feed, this is Lee Coffin from Dartmouth College signing off. Good luck.