Kriston Burroughs
Director of Student Recruitment and Campus Visit Experiences
University of Houston (TX)

What drew you to the world of college admission counseling?
Like many, I stumbled my way into college admissions. I graduated with my bachelor’s in sociology from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (#GBR) and didn’t have a clue what I was going to do next. After chatting with a mentor, she encouraged me to enroll in the higher ed program at Nebraska…Not because this was what people do when they don’t know what they want to do, but because she saw the impact that being a student leader had on my life.

One of my first campus jobs was as a tour guide, then an orientation leader, then an RA, then National Pan-Hellenic Council chapter president on campus. So, the next natural step was to formalize my passion with a degree in education administration/student affairs. I got my higher ed start with various student affairs roles and then was hit with a setback that made me lose my passion for the work. But I landed on my feet in admissions at the University of Texas at Austin with incredible colleagues who helped renew my spark and passion for the work, and I have never looked back.

What is your favorite part of the job?
The joy I get from seeing a student’s opinion about college change from not considering, to maybe thinking it’s possible for them, is an indescribable feeling. All of the chaos of navigating policies, dates, deadlines, readings, and meetings is worth it when students make choices that positively impact their future. #ThisIsWhy

How has NACAC played a role in your career?
NACAC has played an incredible role in my professional career, not only at the national level but also the affiliate level. My first exposure to anything NACAC-related was a super conference with TACAC, SACAC, and RMACAC. I have gained mentors and colleagues on both sides of the desk, and as we grow in our work and have moved to different places, NACAC conferences (regional and national) provide a space to reconnect, recharge, and meet new folx. I am grateful to work for a university that values professional development, allowing me to serve on committees through TACAC, learn and grow through in-person and online training opportunities, and attend various national conferences.

What do you think is the biggest challenge facing our profession today?
There are so many challenges that face us as we do this work. On the college side, many enrollment management professionals face an incredible amount of pressure. Universities continue to set lofty goals that rest on the success of “Did we meet our enrollment target?” despite shrinking budgets, staff burnout, high turnover, increasing app volume, enrollment caps (or lack thereof), and the impending enrollment cliff. On the high school and independent counselor side, the work has become incredibly complex with numerous deadlines, application types, SRAR changes, growing lists, test-optional, need-blind, forms, waivers, and increasing caseloads.

It feels like we’ve all collectively mission-crept away from our true purpose, which is serving all students and meeting THEIR needs — not our own self-serving ones. As a country, we’ve allowed a society that is increasingly hostile to critical thinking to legislate how students choose where they go to college. We’ve demonized the trades and woefully underfunded HBCUs and tribal colleges — overvaluing the importance of 25 institutions while students have more than 4,000 options to pick from. I am hopeful that things will change. We have to keep fighting and protect the ability of students to be authors of their own stories.

When you aren’t working, what do you like to do?
I love exploring the city my wife and I call home, Houston, as we love food and have many great options to choose from. I am a huge lover of all things sports, so you can catch me on Saturday watching college football (#GBR, #HookEm, and #GoCoogs), attending a baseball game (#GoStros and #CardinalNation), going to an NBA game (#GoSpursGo), or watching an NFL game at a sports bar (#RaiderNation). I am also a huge music lover, casual gamer, an avid streaming binge-watcher, and I love craft cocktails.

If you could be any fictional character, who would it be and why?
It could be because I love anomalies and am obsessed with multiverse theories, but Miles Morales (#IYKYK) would have to be my choice. He is incredibly brilliant, gifted with unique talents, loves his family, and believes in the best in people.


Published Jan. 15, 2024