Every journey begins with the first step. If you ask any student is currently studying abroad, he or she will tell you that getting admission in a college or university abroad is not as simple as filling up some forms; it is a complicated and long drawn out affair. It requires a lot of planning and preparation.
One has to fulfill a number of requirements in order to realize the overseas education dream. Those requirements include scoring well in language and admission tests; preparing Statement of Purpose (SoP); getting letters of recommendation (LoR) from academic institutions; appearing for visa interview etc.
Those who do not have a relative or friend to guide them may end up feeling lost and confused. To avoid that, majority of students seek services of professional organizations that specialize in overseas education. However, one must exercise caution while choosing such consultants. While most consultants are credible, others are wolves in sheep’s clothing.
In this blog, Student Cover tries to provide tips to overseas education enthusiasts on choosing the right overseas education consultants.
1. Which country do you want to go to for higher education?
Terms like ‘abroad’ and ‘overseas’ include all countries outside a person’s country of citizenship. While countries like USA, UK, Canada, Australia, Germany etc. are favorite overseas education destinations for most of the students, there are consultants who cater to those seeking higher education in specific countries. If one has already made up his or her mind with regard to the country, then it is better to seek services of those consultants that specialize in overseas education in that particular country. For example, it is of no use for students seeking to pursue higher education in USA to go to a consultant who specializes in higher education in Australia.
2. What service do you need?
Studying abroad includes 4 phases which are i. Course and College selection phase, ii. Preparation Phase, iii. Application phase and iv. Pre-Departure Phase. One can choose a consultant based on his or her requirement in each phase.
The selection related services include counseling or advice regarding a course or a college. There are consultancy firms which specialize in course and college selection. However, at time, domestic career counselors with experience in overseas education consultancy may also double up as overseas education counselors.
The preparation services include English language classes for IELTS or TOEFL. They also include coaching for admission tests such as SAT, GMAT, GRE etc. The application related services include assistance in filing application, assistance in drafting SoP and LoR while pre-departure services include assistance for in getting passport or visa.
In overseas education consultancy one can find firms that offer either one or two or all of the above mentioned services. It is up to the student to decide which service does he or she need and choose the consultant accordingly.
Overseas education consultancy requires a lot of knowledge and expertise on the part of the counselor as it involves providing guidance and information on courses and academic institutions that best suit the student’s requirement. If the counselors are not trained or experienced, they may not be able to guide the students well. Therefore, it is essential to find out the background and experience level of the counselors before joining any consultancy service. Good consultancy firms provide detailed information regarding the academic qualification and experience of their staff members.
The same applies for other services as well. Those imparting coaching and tuition for language courses or admission exams must themselves be well trained and educated. There are certain organizations that provide professional certification for overseas education consultants. It is therefore advisable to check if the trainers and consultants have requisite certification from a reputed organization.
Like every business, overseas education consultancy is also a business. It requires money to pay the staff salaries and run the office. However, the cost may vary from one consultant to another. Some consultants who offer preparation related services charge quarterly or half-yearly fees while others may charge per session.
There are also some consultants who do not charge anything at all. However, one should not rush to such consultants just because they offer their services for free. There might be certain hidden costs that might not be visible at first but may emerge later. They may be in the form of exaggerated price for study material, passport and visa service fee, loan and health insurance assistance etc.
It is advisable to seek a detailed structure of the fee that a consultant charges and try to bargain wherever possible.
5. What is the performance record?
While choosing an overseas education consultant, one should not do it merely on the basis of tall claims that they make in their advertisements. It is better to do some background check before choosing a consultant. If possible, one should try to get in touch with their past clients and inquire about the organization. One should also not overly rely on the consultant to get admission. Students should remember that consultants are only advisers. Getting admission depends solely on the performance and competence of the student. Any consultant who suggests illegal or unethical methods to get admission in a college or university abroad should be summarily rejected.
Let’s Wrap it up!
Getting admission requires a lot of planning and preparation. Overseas education consultants provide assistance as well as guidance with regard to preparation and application. While choosing an overseas education consultant, one should first assess his or her need and choose that consultant who meets the student’s requirements. Wherever possible, one should do a thorough background check of education consultants before taking their services.
Disclaimer: This blog is based on personal research of the writer. Readers’ discretion is advised. Neither Student Cover nor the writer will be held liable for any wrongful interpretation of the content of this blog.