Overseas education consultants would have you believe they have your best interests at heart. But that’s a big, fat lie. The number of Indian students moving abroad for higher education surges every year. This number was reported to be 440,000 in 2016 and climbed to 770,000 in 2019. By 2019, it’s expected to touch 1.8 million. A large section of India’s foreign education aspirants rely on overseas education consultants. It’s a dangerous trend.
Overseas education sector is marred by fake study abroad counseling agents and consultants. Identifying the fraudsters from genuine consultants is a big challenge in itself. To make matters worse, even genuine overseas education consultants have their own agendas.
Study abroad consultants have a vested interest in supplying students to education institutes that they’re in business with. If your academic goals don’t coincide with their interests, trusting them with your future can turn out to be a huge mistake.
Over the next few minutes of reading, you’ll discover
- Overseas education consultants’ primary goals and MO
- The risks involved in trusting study abroad consultants with your academic future
- Whether it’s advisable to handle your foreign university application yourself
- Why SelectRight is the best alternative to overseas education consultants
How Overseas Education Consultants operate
Overseas education consultants act as a link between the students and overseas colleges/universities. Most study abroad consultants provide student placement services in multiple overseas educational institutes. The countries they cover may or may not include the top study abroad destinations such as Canada, USA and the UK.
Here’s a list of services typically offered by overseas education consultants:
- Student counseling and guidance
- Course selection
- Country selection
- Student profile evaluation
- College/university selection
- Help with the documentation (arranging supporting documents, transcripts etc.)
- College/university application
- Preparation for college/university interview
- VISA filing
- VISA interview preparation
- Help with education loans
Some study abroad consultants also offer services such as currency exchange and arranging accommodation. International education consultants generate their income through these channels:
Commission from foreign colleges/universities
Commission received from foreign colleges or universities is the biggest income source for foreign education consultants. The consultants have formal contracts with foreign educational institutes. They’re paid a predetermined sum of money once a student successfully enrolls, pays the school fee and receives visa approval.
The commission received by the consultants varies with the country, university, course and its duration. It’s not uncommon for consultants to direct traffic towards the countries, universities and courses that promise them the highest commission.
Paid counseling and learning packages
Study abroad consultants often charge for counseling the students about the best study abroad destinations, courses, and college and visa application procedures. Top consultants usually don’t charge any counseling fee from students applying to commission paying colleges and universities.
Smaller, more money-oriented study abroad consultation companies, however, can charge students a hefty fee even if they’re earning a commission on the side.
Selling additional learning courses is another popular money making tactic employed by overseas education consultants. Here are some examples of the paid courses offered by foreign education consultants:
- IELTS test preparation for countries that require English language proficiency
- DELF/DALF (French proficiency certification) preparation courses
- SAT exam preparation
- GMAT exam preparation
Commission from foreign language translation companies
Every country requires the students’ documents to be translated into their official language. Foreign education consultants have links with translation companies that handle this work. They guide the students to the translation company they have ties with.
While the students pay the translation company for translating their documents, the translation company in turn pays a commission fee to the overseas education consultant. This fee typically varies between 5-10 percent for each set of documents.
Paid student visa extension services
Overseas education consultants also offer visa extension services to the students at a fixed price. The fee may vary with the country that the student is studying in. In return, the consultant takes care of all the formalities involved in applying for a study visa extension once the student’s visa expires.
The inherent risks of trusting overseas education consultants
Overseas education consultants are businesses that generate most of their revenue via commissions earned from certain foreign colleges. As such, their primary goal is to get maximum students to enroll in the colleges they’re affiliated with. While there’s a chance this may work out in favor of the students, that’s not always the case.
Here are some instances wherein a study abroad consultant can turn out to be detrimental to students’ academic future and career:
- The consultant doesn’t cover the countries that have the best learning facilities and career prospects for you
- The consultant you hire doesn’t have affiliation with the best colleges
- The colleges that the consultant is affiliated with don’t have the best courses for your chosen field
Overseas educational institutes are known for their specialized and off beat courses such as artificial intelligence, automation, brewing and distillation programs. Many of these have no parallels anywhere else in the world.
While SelectRight searches universities for courses based on students’ individual interests, strengths and aspirations, study abroad consultants typically recommend a standard list of the most popular courses.
Trusting the consultants will mean limiting your academic and career choices. In most cases, they’ll ignore your particular interests and recommend the country, college and course that pays the highest commission.
Is it advisable for students to handle the application process themselves?
It’s possible for students to handle the process of applying to a foreign university on their own. The process, however, requires quite a lot of research, focus and diligence. You’ll need to research different countries, colleges and courses, keep track of application deadlines and prepare all the documents on your own. Needless to say, this can be quite a challenge, especially when you’re also actively studying for your exams.
The acceptance rate of foreign students’ applications in top overseas institutes is another big factor. For instance, the acceptance rate for US study visa in 2021 was only 85 percent. The stiff competition means students can’t afford to make any mistakes. As such, it’s best for students to seek out expert, reliable help to realize their overseas education dreams.
SelectRight’s unbiased, personalized university and course recommendations, expert guidance and other student services make it the best, all-inclusive study abroad assistance solution for Indian students. With SelectRight, you’ll have seasoned experts helping you through every step of the application process.
The changes in US study visa approval rates from March 2018 and March 2019 (Source)
The benefits of choosing SelectRight over study abroad consultants
Better university and course recommendations
Overseas education consultants only recommend the handful of universities that they’re affiliated with. SelectRight’ recommendations are based on approximately 6 million data points covering thousands of international CS, STEM and MBA programs. You can be assured that each program on your recommendations’ list is ideally suited to your interests, past education and budget.
Actionable advice from actual students and alumni
SelectRight allows you to consult current students and alumni of the university you’re interested in. This way, you can clarify all your doubts and get in-depth information about a particular program’s curriculum and real-world scope. It’s a huge advantage over overseas education consultants.
Exclusive overseas education events
SelectRight is the preferred student interaction platform of top international universities. These universities use SelectRight to organize exclusive events wherein the students can interact with the universities’ representatives. At these events, you can discuss the universities’ programs, seek clarifications on your doubts and discuss your application.
Overseas education consultants have no real parallels to this facility.
Study abroad FAQs
Question 1. Should you choose the services of study abroad consultants?
Answer: We’d recommend against it. Study abroad consultants’ recommendations are biased and aren’t specific to individual student profiles.
Question 2. Does SelectRight help with writing SOP and other documentation?
Answer: Yes. SelectRight’s experts help students write the best, personalized SOPs and prepare all the other documents required for their college applications.
Question 3. Which are the top countries to study abroad in for Indian students?
Answer: According to recent research, Canada, USA, UK and Australia are the top countries for Indian students. These countries’ high concentration of higher education institutes is one of the biggest reasons for their standing and popularity among Indian students.
Question 4. Are English language proficiency tests a must for studying abroad?
Answer: While English serves as the widely used common language in most study abroad destinations around the world, it’s not necessary to clear IELTS or TOEFL tests. There are many universities in Canada, USA, UK and Australia that allow admissions without having to pass these tests. Some universities have language preparatory courses that the students are required to pass before they can join their chosen course.
Question 5. Which are the most important considerations for choosing the best program?
Answer: Your interests, career goals and job market trends are important considerations for choosing the ideal program. It’s also advisable to choose a program that’s job-oriented, especially if you aren’t interested in pursuing a specialized course after completing it.
Overseas education consultants do serve a purpose, but not always to the students’ benefit. Trusting them with your future can prove to be a grave error. Be smart, SelectRight.