us aadmission agents blackmail money

Agent: Pay $5000 or You Can’t Study in the U.S. – True Story

Have you wondered what U.S. Admission agents do to students or how they work? Here’s an experience shared by a student who went through the ordeal of an Agent in India.

I am currently on F1 visa in one of the Universities in the state of Minnesota.  I never knew a U.S. state called Minnesota existed before going to this agent.

I hired an agent to make the whole process, and she suggested me this state and university. (I don’t know the reason).

I started my IELTS training in that academy. That was good. But when the admission process, came along they started charging me more than it was discussed.

They took an application fee for 3 universities from me and applied only in one university.

I asked for payment and an application confirmation page of university several times, but they didn’t give it to me. I only received I-20 from this university, and they told me that if you want your I-20 then give us XYZ  amount. I was so confused at that time.  I paid the money and left that consultancy.

I did my whole interview process on my own. I arranged all documents and filled all the required forms online. Ultimately, I got a visa in the month of July end.

I was getting ready to fly to the U.S.

One day I got a call from that consultancy, and they asked me to pay $5000 right away if I want to study in this university.

I said I will not pay anything before I reached the school. I left that consultancy and still she was harassing me.

Then I came to know what they have done. They e-mailed the university from the mail id which they have created at the time of admission. And informed the university that I don’t want to take admission.

I came to know that, and I started communicating with the university directly from my personal mail id. They were also waiting for my email. I explained the whole scenario to them, and they confirmed that my admission will not be cancelled. At least, university folks understood me. Otherwise, consultancy guys would have ruined everything.

Today I’m here just because of my personal efforts and help from the university people.  This state is excellent with lots of opportunities, but before coming here, I had an awful time. I am recommending not to get help from any consultant.


That was a student’s experience with a U.S. Admission Agent. Let me throw some light on this process.

Let me throw some light on this process.

False Identity

When agents sign-up a student to provide admission services, they are essentially taking the student’s persona.

How do they do that?

By creating an email id, that resembles the student’s name. They would then apply for admission as if the student is submitting the application.

When the greedy agent comes into the picture, they started blackmailing this student for additional $5000. But, this student was smart enough to figure things out and take control. But, I wouldn’t have recommended a consultancy in the first place.

Selling the Dream

I’m noticing another trend with consultancy. The biggest reason someone wants to apply via agents is “where to apply and then comes who to apply”.

Universities provided by Agents fall into three categories

  • Dream (GRE > 310) – Schools A, B
  • Target (GRE about 300 to 305) – Schools M, N, O
  • Safe  (GRE less than 300) – Schools – X, Y, Z

Let’s say student have an academic profile that would get them admitted to “Safe.”

But, they would give schools in reverse order

  • Dream – Schools X, Y, Z
  • Target – Schools – M, N, O

Just because they are giving the schools in a specific bucket doesn’t mean a “real” safe schools will not become dream overnight. But, they are playing with the insecurities of the students’ and their parents. I bet, the schools they are mostly going to get admission from their commission based schools.

What Can Schools Do About This?

Universities are on the ignorant side when it comes to what happens on the ground in India. You can get sign-up contact with certified agents, but the reality is entirely different.

How can schools shield from such practices?

I’m not sure if that would be possible. If a student is approaching an agent and the agent is applying on behalf of a student with assumed identity, I don’t know how can schools shield from such practices.

Should Students Use Agents in First Place?

I have been stressing on the same issue for years now. For agents, you are “yet another business”. But, for you students, “you are running away from the challenge”.

Here’s a comment from a student Manoj Says “Yes, I  opting for an agent as I am not sure of the admission processes. So please guide how to write SOP, how to submit the application etc.”

If I forward a guide on how to select universities and how to write SOP, do I think everyone would stop going to consultants? No, it’s not going to happen.

In other words, the majority of students who are taking the Agency route,  are looking for a magic button. With a press of a button, they are expecting a list of universities that are low cost and with financial aid.

The student has to realize that a Ph.D. in Rocket Science is not required to apply for Higher Education to Study Abroad ( the USA or any other countries). Skills to apply for higher education can be acquired. Here’s a fantastic quote from the movie The Martian

“At some point, everything’s going to go South on you. You’re going to say, This is it. This is how I end. Now, you can either accept that, or you can get to work. You have to solve one problem, and then solve the next problem, and then solve the next problem, and if you solve enough problems, you get to go home.”

The Same logic applies to students when applying for higher admission. Just learn to solve problems like you did in your schools and college. You have to solve problems. From the birds eye view level, things will look complicated when applying for college admission in the U.S. You just have to walk on the ground, solve one problem at a time and learn.

Understanding the solving the problems is the key here. From the birds eye view level, things will look complicated when applying for college admission in the U.S. You just have to walk on the ground, solve one problem at a time and learn.

You have to step out your comfort zone, read, learn the process, understand, then read again, get clarity, then apply.

I’m not going to say, the process is simple, easy and straightforward.

You will have a learning curve.

That’s part of the Study Abroad process.

By the way, why do you want to study abroad?

Knowledge, Education, and maybe get a Job and earn money.

Your learning process starts not after you start your college, but the very moment you have a shadow of thought about studying abroad.

So, do what it takes to apply for admission to your own. If you still choose to work with an agent, then you carry the bulk of the load. Don’t blindly trust them. Make them earn your business.