English BA –> University Admission Counselor

There are a lot of great college and university jobs that don’t involve being a professor. We recently interviewed alumnus Keena Griffin to learn about how he got into the field of higher ed admissions. Keena works as an admissions counselor for Concordia University Chicago. He says,

I started my career after graduation by working for the Illinois College Advising Corps (ICAC), which was a partner organization with the University of Illinois system designed to help underserved high school students navigate the college admission process to choose the right school for them.  The jump to becoming an Admission Counselor was a natural step from there.  With ICAC, I loved seeing the excitement of high school students who realized that college was not only possible for them, but that they had multiple options to choose from.  Now I have the opportunity on the collegiate side to work with incoming students and help make the admission process manageable.

Keena urges students interested in this career path to get involved:

For anyone interested in working in college admissions or a non-teaching higher education role, it’s important to get involved on campus as soon as you can – but it’s never too late either.  Illinois is a great place to start because the campus has every resource you can imagine.  Working in admissions means knowing a little bit of everything about the school, just like an English degree teaches you a little of everything about different people and subject areas.  Supplementing your classroom experience with internships, volunteer experience, and interpersonal experience is critical to any field you explore with an English degree because you have the chance to shape your own path.  If you like working with people and you enjoy seeing young adults start to shape their own life courses – then college admissions work is definitely for you.

Keena credits his studies in English with giving him the skills to advance in this line of work:

Getting a degree in English was the best thing I could have done in college.  Learning to connect with and understand people’s stories and being empathetic with people’s backgrounds is a key to success in any endeavor – professional or otherwise.  At the same time, the courses in UIUC’s English program helped me develop marketable skills such as critical analysis and interpersonal communication (which is somewhat of a dying art). I’m able to focus on the important details of any situation that can present a problem, and help develop solutions.  My classes on critical literary theory (my favorite subject) taught me how to approach and interpret literary texts from multiple perspectives, and I use the same techniques when problem-solving issues that occur in work or life.

You can read the full interview with Keena here. You can contact Keena and other alumni working in a range of fields by getting in touch with Kirstin Wilcox, Director of Internships, to join the Alumni Mentoring Network.

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