Hi and welcome to The Program College Consulting. I am so happy that you are here. I hope to pass on important information that I feel every family should have and know before, during, and after the college process.
I am Deanna Akin: business owner, entrepreneur, friend, wife, and, most importantly, a mom of three amazing boys. I am the creator of The Program: College Consulting Courses and my goal is to change the way every family applies to college across the nation. And, I won’t stop until I have!
Fifteen years ago I was right where you are now, with my first son entering high school. I was lucky to at least know that everything he did from that day forward would affect which paths would be available to him come college time. I had the good fortune to have attended schools when I was a teenager that started preparing me for the college process from freshman year on. I thought I knew what I was doing, I had this handled. Not so much! I rapidly found out that, although I knew we needed to get started, that was about all I knew. Things had changed dramatically since the early eighties and even the nineties. (And yes, I know I am dating myself.)
You should probably know up front that I am one of those people who can not stand not knowing everything about anything that I decide to do. Much to the dismay of those around me, I have a tendency to be a wee bit tunnel visioned when I embark on a project, topic, mission, or crusade. Picture a tornado hitting my house, car, life in general. My husband and kids all cringe and roll their eyes whenever I decide I need to “do something.” Which, if I am being honest, has been most of their lives. Translated
With that in mind, I dove into the college process fifteen years ago with son number one. I realized quickly that there was an enormous amount of information and much of it was conflicting. I set out to start sifting through it. There was so much to know, to understand, and to learn. So many time frames and so much information to store. Some that would apply to the current student I was working on, and so many others that I would have to save for different students to come.
Overwhelming was an understatement. To begin with, I could not believe that a fifteen, sixteen, seventeen-year-old kid was supposed to gather, decipher, analyze, and implement this information. It was staggering. I knew I had a basic understanding of the process and I was still lost. How were other parents dealing with this? The answer, I found, is that most were not. I remember thinking surely there is an instruction manual, framework, or connect the dots somewhere to explain this process. Nope, what I found was a lot of information on any particular subject but nothing comprehensive.
Next, I found there were people you could hire for hundreds of dollars an hour to help with filling out the applications. Then I found firms that could help with the entire process from start to finish for ten to forty thousand dollars, and that only included applications and had an hour limit. There was no mention of how to handle the financial aid process. I deduced that was due to the fact that if you could afford thirty thousand for a college consultant, you probably didn’t need any financial assistance. I would have gladly paid for help at that point but honestly, it was just not something we could afford at that point in our life. I figured we could have managed a couple of hours, but I really didn’t see how that would make a huge difference. So, I did what I usually do in these types of situations, I decided to become an authority on the subject. I dove headlong into learning to the tune of 60-80 hours a week and sometimes more. I promised myself that if I ever came up with some sort of framework, I would share it with others, because no one should have to go through this alone.
I researched everything and then started making phone calls. Following the phone calls, I started visiting college campuses from the East Coast to the West Coast and everywhere in between. I interjected myself into admissions offices and financial aid offices and then, just for fun, I would go irritate whoever I could find at the different schools within the colleges. I learned a lot. I also figured out that people might know a whole bunch about their particular function but not much about the big picture. There was so much more to this whole process than just filling out college applications. I honestly became obsessed.
Fast forward a few years, one son had graduated from college and another was about to start. By then. I had logged well over ten thousand hours, and tens of thousands of miles chasing answers. My first son graduated debt free, the second one had amassed over a million dollars of institutional and outside scholarships and was also going to graduate loan-free when he was done. An interesting thing started happening. People were seeking me out for advice. I was so excited to be able to help. Then an amazing event that completely changed the direction of my life happened.
A group of students came to me and asked if I would help them the way I had my sons. I was splitting time between my research and my business and was trying to figure out where I could squeeze in the time for each of these kids. I wasn’t sure if it was fair or realistic to agree to help all of them. Then one student (the self-appointed spokesperson of the group) said, “Please!” You have to understand, this boy had recently lost both of his parents within three months of each other, something no child should ever have to deal with. Obviously, that made the decision for me. Then it came to me, why not do all of them at the same time in a class setting? So, I told them to pick a day that worked for everyone, tell their friends, and I would do all of them at once. The following Wednesday thirty-four students showed up. This told me two things: first, this type of help was sorely needed, and second I was going to be busy.
At this point, my other business was suffering badly from lack of attention and I had a decision to make. My husband and I sat down and talked about our options. I told him that I really felt compelled that this is what I was supposed to be doing with my life. I explained to him that, although I loved my business, I felt everything I had done up until this point was just preparing me for the path I was currently on. I truly believed this was bigger than me, and I had been guided to where I was now. He supported my decision to close my other business that I had spent twenty-five years building. He committed to doing whatever he had to do to support us while I was working towards this new goal.
Ultimately the futures of thousands or possibly even millions of students was far more important than me following my personal agenda.
As time went on and years passed and word of mouth started bringing students from further and further away, I realized I needed a structured curriculum before the whole thing got away from me. I started building, and the next thing I knew, I had created the framework for the comprehensive, interactive, step-by-step program I myself had desperately wanted so long ago. The calls were coming from other states and I was trying to run, drive, fly and help everyone, and running myself ragged in the process. My brilliant, techy, youngest son one day said, “Hey mom why don’t you just do a live-stream and quit trying to kill yourself?” Out of the mouths of babes, except, what’s a live-stream? And so it was. This is how The Program came to be.
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