Episode Eight of Podcast ‘The Search’: ‘Junior Jitters’

News subtitle

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

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


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, “Junior Jitters,” 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. Daysia Charles, Deric Fernandez, and Delia Howley have been trying to make the most of their stay-at-home summer. But Fernandez, who plans to study medicine, worries that his inability to work at a hospital this summer, as he had planned before COVID-19 hit, will weaken his application to colleges.

Not so, says Coffin. “If the internship can’t happen this summer, or your mother has worries about having you spend time in a Boston hospital during this moment, the other way you can tell a college about that is just to reflect in your essay about what’s pulling you toward medicine,” he suggests. “Approach it a little bit more philosophically.”

When talk turns to standardized tests, Coffin assures the students that colleges will be flexible, and that many, including Dartmouth, have decided to make the submission of scores optional this year, recognizing that exam sites may not be easily accessible to all applicants.

And what keeps these students moving ahead, despite formidable obstacles? The episode ends with deeply inspiring answers to that question. 

“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.

For the latest information on Dartmouth’s response to the pandemic visit the COVID-19 website.

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