Preparing For the Journey

As seniors get ready to finish their final year of high school, they’re also preparing to make major life decisions on where to go to college and what to choose as a major. On top of being busy students, these massive future changes can become overwhelming. Luckily, Gary Whitley, Glenn Miller, and Pam Borgman—owners and operators of Cascade College Advisors (CCA)—are in the business of helping with these specific challenges.

The team at CCA begin their work with each client by developing a trust-based relationship with the student and their families, while providing information and tools for their individualized college search. All three CCA owners spent several years counseling students at the high school level, specifically on college entry, essay preparation, and the potentially difficult student loan process.

CCA’s focus is to provide professional and outstanding customer service by making sure each student is comfortable with the decisions they make about when and where they apply to college.

Fit and Match

CCA uses a concept called the “Fit and Match” system, with an emphasis of replacing myths with strategy. They believe “success in, and enjoyment of a college environment extends far beyond academics. A positive transition to college certainly includes the academic experience, but it involves much more.”

As a former counselor at Bend Senior High School, Whitley mainly guided students through the college process. However, he was also responsible for supporting students who were homeless, providing mental health support for students struggling with anxiety and depression, and dealing with drug and alcohol situations. With over 400 students on his case load, giving individual attention to students was difficult.

“Working as an independent educational consultant allows me to use my experience in working with students on the college search process and provides a wonderful opportunity, not only to continue to create and build those important relationships, but is also the best way to provide exceptional service to our clients, which is the goal of our business,” says Whitley.


“We downplay the idea that students need to figure out their major prior to exploring and applying to college, primarily because most students on average change their major two or three times after they arrive to the college of their choice,” adds Miller.

A major misconception is that college entry testing is the most important element of getting into a good school. While test scores are important, the student’s transcript and other elements—such as extra-curricular activities, clubs, and community service—are also looked at closely.

Essay writing is also something that becomes a major challenge for many students. Borgman, the essay specialist at CCA, is a former Bend Senior High parent and helped establish Bend Senior High’s Future/Career Center. She works with students to create their own success stories as they grapple with the process of developing a competent college essay.

“A young woman explained that she worked at a fast food restaurant after school and weekends and although she had other interests, she felt she could not develop an engaging or memorable essay,” explains Borgman. “Through a process of listing ‘passions’ and ‘frustrations,’ she found her voice and composed a compellingly humorous essay based on her restaurant job and how people should treat one another.”

Duck, Beaver or…?

In Central Oregon alone, over 400 students each year are interested in transitioning into the four-year Oregon University systems. CCA clients are almost exclusively looking at four-year universities both in and out of state, however there are also those looking at what statewide two-year programs can offer them.