Episode Five of Podcast ‘The Search’: How Parents Can Help

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Dartmouth’s Lee Coffin talks about the college admissions process.

Lee Coffin, and his dog, sit on his couch.
Photo courtesy of Lee Coffin


Finding and entering the right college is a team effort, including counselors, parents, and student applicants. But what is the best role for parents to play? In this episode, “Avoiding the Parent Trap,” Lee Coffin, vice provost for enrollment and dean of admissions and financial aid, talks with three parents who, collectively, helped guide five teenagers through the admissions process.

“Some applicants do need a gentle nag,” Coffin says. “Others need a researcher, or a mentor, or a therapist, or a little of all of those. And some just need to be left alone.” 

But it isn’t easy, one parent says, to let go of the reins, especially when you know that your child is receiving emails from college admissions offices that you may not see—and that the child might not even open in time to meet a deadline.

On the other hand, another recalls, “Instead of coming up to them saying, ‘Have you checked your email?’ catching them at not the best time, we started setting aside a kind of Sunday afternoon check-in, when they could be ready for that kind of conversation. They could ask questions and we could ask questions, and that wound up being really helpful guidance for us.”

Coffin also fields questions from parents about benchmarks and “speed bumps,” including early decision applications, standardized tests, and financial planning. 

“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.

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