“Admissions Beat,” a popular podcast developed and hosted by Lee Coffin, vice provost for enrollment and dean of admissions and financial aid, opens its second season this week with new episodes aimed at helping high school students and their families find, choose, and gain admission to the colleges or universities best suited to them.
“I launched this series of conversations shortly after COVID-19 curtailed admissions travel and any type of in-person conversation with students, parents and school counselors,” says Coffin.
“As the first in my own family to attend college, I worried that, as information sessions were cancelled and guidance offices were closed, applicants around the world would lose access to the personalized, practical advice they need to confidently navigate the world of selective college admissions. So, instead of hitting the road, I learned to be a podcaster.”
The silver lining, Coffin says, is that podcasting has enabled him and his guests to reach many more listeners than they can meet at face-to-face events.
In initial episodes of his podcast, originally titled “The Search,” the pandemic frequently posed conundrums for prospective applicants. For example, students and parents or guardians wondered: How could a student assess campus fit without visiting in person? Since standardized testing was now an optional element at many colleges, should they still submit the SAT or ACT as part of an application, if possible? How could someone demonstrate excellence in the arts, athletics and other extra-curricular activities if most in-person activities were suspended? And what should they write about in their essays?
In 2021, “The Search” was followed by “Admissions Beat,” a “news-you-can-use” podcast which focuses on admissions news as well as laying out strategies for gaining access to college as policies and priorities changed.
Now, as some COVID restrictions are being lifted, “Admissions Beat” will map a changing landscape, starting with an overview called “A Back-to-School Primer for Seniors,” in which Coffin is interviewed by Jacques Steinberg ’88, a former New York Times reporter and author of The Gatekeepers: Inside the Admissions Process of a Premier College, and co-author of The College Conversation: A Practical Companion for Parents to Guide Their Children Along the Path to Higher Education.
Updated encore shows from “The Search” as well as season one of “Admissions Beat” will provide up-to-the minute news and tips about financial aid, essay writing, and transcripts. The season will end in late November with an episode debunking college admission myths and suggesting ways to meet looming deadlines.
“As I talk candidly with other deans, admissions officers, counselors, students, and parents, my goal is always to offer reassurance to families going through what can seem like a daunting journey,” says Coffin.
“Especially in the Ivy League, there’s a dangerous misconception that the selection process is random and unpredictable. It isn’t. Applying to college—even in a highly competitive environment—should be a series of thoughtful, intentional steps, beginning with soul-searching reflection about who you are and what you want most out of the next chapter in your life.”
By the end of May, “Admissions Beat” had over 21,000 plays on Apple Podcast. The podcast is available on many other platforms, as well as on the Office of Undergraduate Admissions website.