'The Search': Vice Provost Lee Coffin Hosts a New Podcast

The vice provost talks with experts, students, and parents to demystify college admissions.

Normally, as spring comes to Hanover, Dartmouth would be teeming with visitors, as admissions office tour guides, walking backward across the Green, lead prospective students and their families around campus. And Lee Coffin, vice provost for enrollment and dean of admissions and financial aid, would, with his staff, be hitting the road, meeting high school juniors and seniors from all over the world.

Those face-to-face events have been brought to a temporary halt by COVID-19, and students are now coping with additional disruptions to college counseling, academic testing, grading, student activities, and affordability. That hasn't stopped Coffin from sharing his expertise. In an act of what he calls "admissions citizenship," he and his colleagues have created a podcast called "The Search."

"You could think of this podcast as a multi-step navigation chart, helping temporarily sidelined high school juniors imagine and launch their own search from home," says Coffin. "We'll walk through the college application and financial aid process. We'll talk about what counts as criteria for selection. We'll demystify test-taking and essay-writing. And we'll give applicants from outside the U.S. valuable information about American colleges and universities."

Coffin says the podcast was designed to offer every student—whether they are considering Dartmouth or not—a view of college admissions as seen through the eyes of experienced high school and college counselors who care deeply about worldwide access to higher education. "This is not a podcast about getting into Dartmouth," Coffin notes.

The first in his family to attend a four-year college, Coffin knows firsthand how daunting the road to admission can seem. He also knows that tenacity and a clear-eyed strategy can make the difference between acceptance and rejection.

"While it's true that the pandemic has made applying to college more challenging than usual, it does not in any way diminish the strengths of applicants we've been seeing and meeting online," he says. "It's just a matter of finding new and powerful ways for them to tell their stories."

Justin Anderson, vice president for communications, says it's rare for a college admissions podcast to be hosted by an Ivy League dean of enrollment in a no-holds-barred conversation with students, parents and experts.

" 'The Search' brings Lee's 25 years of experience to an audience hungry for reliable, engaging information underpinning one of the most important decisions they will make. He's passionate about his subject and knows exactly what questions to ask and what answers to give, in an engaging, entertaining format. We're very excited about making this widely available."

"The Search" is now available on SoundCloud and the Department of Admissions website, and will also be available on Spotify, Apple Music, Stitcher, TuneIn Radio, Pandora, RadioPublic, iHeart Radio, and Google Podcast.

The first episode, "Admissions 101," a lively dialogue between Coffin and two incoming students, Aditi Narayanan '24, from Phoenix, Ariz., and Jack Heaphy '24, from Charlottesville, Va., is available now, with future podcasts to follow throughout the spring and summer.

"The Search" is now available on SoundCloud and the Department of Admissions website, and will also be available on Spotify, Apple Music, Stitcher, TuneIn Radio, Pandora, RadioPublic, iHeart Radio, and Google Podcast.