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Meet an Admissions Counselor: Brittany Preston

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Brittany Preston Admissions Consultant

Written by Brittany Prestonon July 12th, 2022

Before joining College Coach, I was the director of admission and recruitment at Oregon State University-Cascades, where I oversaw all aspects of the undergraduate and graduate admissions office for the branch campus in Bend, Oregon. Prior to OSU, I built my experience working in the admissions offices at Gonzaga University, Simpson College, and CU-Boulder. At all institutions, I reviewed and made final decisions on admission applications. I traveled nationally and internationally to visit high schools, attend college fairs, and present at various conferences. At Gonzaga, I traveled throughout Asia and South America to recruit international students and then assisted them through the application and visa process. At Simpson College, I supervised the undergraduate recruitment team, oversaw the design and execution of our print and digital marketing, led the name purchasing strategy, implemented the Common Application, and assisted families through the admissions and financial aid process. At CU-Boulder (my alma mater) I ran all campus visit programs and was part of the admission team who created the campus’ first Admitted Student Day. Finally, I reviewed graduate applications at the Harvard Graduate School of Education and worked in the Office of Institutional Research at MIT while in graduate school. In addition to my college admission experience, I also served as the inaugural college and career advisor at a high school in north Idaho. I created curriculum around college and career planning, implemented a college planning tool, and met regularly with students and families to assist with the postsecondary planning process. You never know where opportunity will find you! I got my start in college admissions while serving tables at Red Robin. Work hard, no matter your title, and the rest will follow!
Learn More About Brittany
We’re bringing back our popular series, Meet an Admissions Counselor, where we introduce students and families to a different member of the College Coach admissions team. Drop in to see what we’re reading, where we went to school, and our strategies for beginning the college essay. As you work with us to find a college admissions consultant who best fits your needs or the needs of your child, we will help you consider the personality and working styles that will bring out the best in you or your student. Today we introduce Brittany Preston. Where are you from, where have you lived, and where do you live now? I always struggle with this question as we moved a lot growing up. I grew up mostly in southern California, went abroad to Jakarta, Indonesia for middle school, and then completed high school in Sugar Land, Texas. Since then I have lived in Colorado, Oregon, Iowa, Massachusetts, and Idaho. I now live in Bend, Oregon with my husband, daughter, and golden retriever. What are you reading, watching, and/or listening to lately?  I love historical fiction. While you may find me reading a self-help book, my Bible or the latest best seller, my favorite books take me into another time where I can learn about cultures and historical moments all disguised by a compelling story. I love researching the time period or event while following along with the characters and plot line. I love an episode of Downton Abbey or This is Us, but you can also find me watching Friends or Seinfeld reruns. My playlist will change month to month but will always include a few showtunes. I used to want to be on Broadway and that love of musical theater never faded. What do you do for fun or to relax? For fun I love to spend time on the water. That includes paddleboarding, boating, or water skiing. I love to travel, play tennis, run, snow-ski and recently started riding horses. The ultimate way to relax for me is a hike in the woods, a good book, or a day at the spa. Do you do any volunteer work? If so, what, and are there certain causes that are close to your heart? Before being a busy working mom, I spent time working with The Boys and Girls Club volunteering with youth and supporting young children with reading and tutoring. I’ve run several marathons with Team in Training where I helped to fundraise thousands of dollars to help support families with leukemia as well as leukemia research. Charities and nonprofits focused on literacy and supporting the homeless are close to my heart. -- Where did you go to college and what did you study? For my undergraduate degree I went to the University of Colorado Boulder and studied journalism and mass communication with a focus on broadcast news. For my master’s degree, I attended the Harvard Graduate School of Education and studied higher education. I obviously changed careers between undergrad and graduate school, but that’s the beauty of college. It opens doors to a variety of life skills and career pathways. What was your favorite thing about college? Was anything very different from what you expected? I loved everything about college. I loved the variety of faculty I had access to and the breadth of their knowledge. I loved the way sitting in a college class makes you feel. Whether a large lecture or a small discussion-based course, I felt like I was a part of something bigger, and there was so much potential and opportunity at my fingertips. I loved studying in the library, simply walking across campus, or cheering in Folsom field at a football game. As a cheerleader, I got to be on the football field as a live buffalo named Ralphie would run down the field and, to this day, I think that was so cool! What would you say to your high school self if you could coach them through the research and application process? What would you have done differently? If I could reach back in time and coach myself, I would be sure to recommend exploring more options in regards to school size and type. Having two family members who attended well-known schools, I did not spend a lot of time exploring schools beyond those I had heard about from friends and family. Now that I have worked in college admissions and seen the variety of schools, I wish I had spent more time exposing myself to lots of different options. -- Where did you work in admissions and/or counseling? After leaving journalism, I got my start in college admissions at at CU-Boulder. I worked there for about five years and went on to work in admissions at Simpson College and Gonzaga University. I then crossed the desk, as they say, and worked as the inaugural college and career advisor at a high school in Idaho. Then I was provided the opportunity to work for about five more years as the director of admissions at Oregon State University-Cascades where I oversaw undergraduate and graduate admissions for the branch campus. What aspect of the college admissions and/or counseling process do you most enjoy working on? My favorite thing about admissions is working directly with students and families and helping them navigate this process. I could talk about college admissions all day. It just flows out of me and that is how I know I love it. I’ve stayed in this industry because I love everything about this process and the variety of students I meet along the way. What in your mind makes a good college essay? A good college essay is one that you can hand to a complete stranger, have them read it, and when you ask them to summarize that student, they can perfectly describe the personality, characteristics, or talents of that student. In committee rooms when we were making decisions on applications, we would often give a short overview about a student. The best essays supported the facts in the application and gave us a few more talking points to include in our description of the applicant. How do you guide and nurture students through the college list process, from initial research to narrowing the final list? Again, I think this is where the “helper” in me comes out. I will take the time to get to know a student and use their cues on how best I can support them. The student may already have a huge college list and I can help them to narrow it down based on things I am learning about them and my experience with those schools. Other times a student will feel frozen and confused about where to even begin, so I will ask questions and provide suggestions that will help them begin taking steps forward. At every stage of the process, you will find me trying to get to know the student and asking lots of questions in hopes of getting them to self-reflect on what is important in this process. How would you describe your counseling style? I would describe myself as warm, patient, a good listener, and a “helper.” I’m realistic and analytical, yet supportive and compassionate. My communication style includes asking questions, particularly in the beginning of a conversation, and then helping to guide the conversation using that information. I’m good at collecting data and formulating a plan. The cheerleader still comes out some days and I am here to cheer you on through this process. To learn more about Brittany, visit her bio.

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