Everyone has bad days at work now and then, but for Associate Director of College Counseling Beth Collier, the bad days have a noticeable pattern.
“They’re the ones when I don’t get to work with students,” she says. “When I get bogged down in paperwork or something like that, and I don’t get to meet with any of the boys and work with them, those are the ‘bad days.’ The good days are the ones with successful interactions, and that distinction is something that lets me know I’m in the right profession.”
This is the fifth year that Mrs. Collier has been advising students in the college counseling office, and her 14th year working in college counseling at high schools. “I kind of fell into it, like a lot of people do,” she says of her path into counseling. She graduated from Stephens College in Columbia with a degree in English and went on to Miami University in Ohio for a master’s in literature. While at Stephens, she worked as an admissions tour guide — “I loved talking to people about my undergraduate institution,” she says — and that became the beginning of her career path. She continued doing admissions work on the college side for a couple years after grad school before transitioning into high school work.
Working at Priory, which she describes as “super fun,” is always changing and always challenging, she says. She reiterated her love of working with students. “If you don’t love teenagers, this isn’t the job for you,” she says with a smile and a laugh. A benefit of working at a smaller school like Priory is that she really gets to know the students and their families, and knowing who they are and where they come from helps her advocate on their behalf. “We build really great relationships and trusts, and that’s really important for what we do,” she says.
Another aspect of Priory that Mrs. Collier likes is the fact that it’s all boys. At home, she has two daughters — Madeleine, 10, and Charlotte, 7 — so Priory is a very different environment from that. “It’s fun to relate to the boys and joke around, things aren’t always super serious,” she says. “The boys give this place such a great energy, it can help keep you young and give you good perspective on things.”
Outside of work, Madeleine and Charlotte keep Mrs. Collier and her husband Chris busy. Both girls are competitive swimmers, and she says a lot of her time is spent running the “swim shuttle” to various practices and meets. Add in things like homework, school activities and the girl scouts, and they’ve got a pretty full schedule.
They manage to find time to work on a long-term project that has proved both exciting and challenging. In April, the Colliers bought an almost 100-year-old house in Webster Groves, and they’ve spent almost a year so far renovating it. “We actually found out during the sale process that the house had been owned by a Priory alum’s grandmother, who’d lived there for a long, long time,” Mrs. Collier says. They moved into the house a couple weeks before Christmas, and hope to have the renovation and restoration work done sometime in the fall. This is the second such project they’ve taken on, since the house they moved out of in Affton is abut 75 years old, and she says they redid basically everything in it except the kitchen and bathrooms.
In her remaining free time, Mrs. Collier’s favorite activity is reading — “It’s one of the only things I can really go out of my way to squeeze in,” she says. In addition to helping her be “really good at Jeopardy and trivia nights,” she says her educational background in literature has exposed her to a wide range of good books, and she’s happy to make recommendations any time you’re looking for something new to read.