My College Journey: Education Empowers
Welcome to the first Educate. Empower. Achieve! blog post.
I’m Kevin Krebs, founder of Partners For Achievement, the largest college planning company in the Chicago area.
As the son of European immigrant parents who never attended high school, I am thankful for the opportunity to speak to thousands of families every year and truly appreciate positively impacting students lives on a daily basis.
If you believe the odds, there’s almost no way I should be here. But my mom and dad, who survived World War II bombings and refugee camps, instilled important values that shaped my youth and still motivate and inspire me today. These are the same values the PFA team and I hold for our company and all of our bright, young college-bound students.
My parents valued education and stressed its importance to me every day.
They came to the United States with 20 bucks, one suitcase and without the ability to speak, read or write English. They saw education as the way for their five children to learn how to make a better life for themselves and for their own families in the future. I believe in the pursuit and advocacy of a quality higher education for all of our PFA students.
My parents empowered me through their support, guidance and work ethic.
My dad mentored by example. He was an intense, gruff bricklayer who woke at 5:15 a.m. and was never late or missed a day at a job he never liked. He took his responsibilities seriously and worked hard to accomplish whatever task was in front of him. My mom worked as a kind-hearted, caring lunchroom manager at a school for special needs children—and she loved every minute of it. She challenged me to set lofty goals, reminded me to try my best every day and provided unwavering encouragement that boosted my self-confidence in ways that she could never have imagined. We encourage all of our students in the same manner and support and guide our PFA families along their college planning journey.
My parents believed I could achieve anything that I could dream of doing in my life.
But, as my parents knew all too well, life doesn’t come without some ups and downs. They taught me to be thankful for what went right and to be resilient when life didn’t.
I set my sights high and earned a full scholarship to Northwestern University where I played quarterback on the football team and pitched for the baseball team. I graduated as a three-time Academic All Big Ten selection with high hopes for my future, but without a job.
I took out nearly $30,000 in student loans and went back to get a master’s degree from Northwestern’s Medill School of Journalism. I thought my dream job of anchoring ESPN’s SportsCenter was surely right around the corner.
Nope. Unemployed again, this time with a student loan payment to Sallie Mae hanging over my head every month.
So there I was at the age of 25 with no job, a boatload of debt and an immense feeling of frustration. How did I get here? How in the last eight years of my life did I not have a guidance counselor, academic advisor, coach or anybody else tell me what this was going to be like and how it might turn out?
Grit, determination, and the values my parents instilled kept me going.
During the last 20 years, I started four companies, helped launch a mentoring program at my alma mater and volunteered with numerous education-related philanthropic endeavors.
I founded PFA to help students and parents pave a path to college while also helping families be mindful of the escalating costs of higher education. Since starting PFA, my team and I have had the pleasure of successfully guiding hundreds of families through the college planning and career readiness process.
We look forward to using the platform of this blog to provide expert college admissions insights, tips on maximizing financial aid and scholarships, and helpful strategies to find great internships and land your college grad’s first job.
My parents, Karl and Ursula Krebs, are now 86 years old and I would like to dedicate this first blog post to them.
Educate. Empower. Achieve!
Kevin Krebs is the founder of Oakbrook Terrace, Ill.-based Partners For Achievement, a college planning company assisting hundreds of families annually in the college admissions process. Read more about Krebs and the rest of the Partners For Achievement team.