Truth About US College Admission Agents and Their Business Model

Note: This blog post was initially published in 2011 and till date (2017) nothing has changed. Here’s a comment from the Facebook posted recently:

Do the right thing, do it the right way. Every single greedy offense done elsewhere affects each and every immigrant and  non immigrant’s life’s in the USA. Change of rules, laws etc. Doesn’t get better but just get worse. Hence be aware  and Spread the awareness.

The above comment was in response to the how the U.S. Admission agents are offering false promises to send students to low-quality universities, which in turn is having ripple effects. Poor quality students need a way to find jobs and they end up faking resumes by joining Desi Consultancies. Which in turn impacts how laws are changed.

This is the first article discussing the U.S. Admission agent’s role in the U.S. Admission process (from India).

Following a series of posts about the US admission consultancies were inspired from the following comment:

I belong to Pharma faculty (M. Pharm) and going to appear for GRE in June month, applying for spring semester. Now seriously, I have a great doubt regarding my admission, because some private GRE coaching centers tell that they will guarantee admission at any cost if we pay them the required amount. Seriously now, is there any problem for all the other students applying for admission, so that individually applying student quota may become reduced, because of these private sectors?

U.S. Education Consultancies Business Model

First, you have to understand US admission consultancies (or Education Agents) are just a business like any other companies. They are people and they have to make profits and they are there to make money. What differentiates good companies from bad is based on the type of service they provide and their business model.

  • Everyone admission consultancies guarantee 100% admissions to the university, but how can they?

If you have scored say 300 in GRE and applying, to schools that require 280 in GRE pretty much get you admission. When there are universities that admits pretty much everyone with any scores, it’s easy for agents to get your admission. You are unlikely to get a list of universities they would apply before you ay them the fees. Once you pay them, you will be given a list of universities that’s way below what you can get admit from.

  • Education agents have an agreement for recruiting students with universities.

For example, University X in the USA will have an exclusive agreement with Agent X in India. Agent X can have sub-agents in different cities. Students applying via those agents may get Application Fee Waiver. It’s hard to find quality/good ranked universities working with agents.

  • Education Agents get paid for recruiting students to universities have commission based agreements.

If Student X approaches Agent X about getting admission for his profile in the USA. Let’s assume Agent X applies to 4 universities and student gets admission from all 4 universities (including University X).

If student X decides to attend University X (gets a visa and pays the first semester fees), Agent X gets paid like 5 to 20% of first-year fees. Sometimes, they get a fixed amount like $1000 to $5000 per student.

Think Logically: Would they ask you nicely (or force you to attend a university that pays them $4000 or $800), if you are admitted from both schools?

So, you would really have to question the agents:

  • If they have tie-ups  with any universities they are providing you
  • What sort of deal they have with the university
  • Are they applying for, only to universities where they have tie-ups?
  • You can ask the university if you have doubts

Above all, they are taking away the learning opportunities from you. Applying to Study Abroad program is a problem and you want to solve on your own. If you chicken out with this problem (at the very first step) on your study abroad journey, how will you grow and gain to solve bigger problems while you are studying abroad or in the future?

Over to you

Before I continue to post additional details about US Education agents, I would like you to post your experience about agents. If you got admission through agents or visited US Admission consultancies recently, what kind of package did they offer and how much do they charge?

Based on your questions and comments, part 2 of this Truth about US Education Agents can be shaped.

Also, how many of you know US Admission consultancies have agreed with Universities (USA, UK, Australia) and get paid from universities if you apply through them?

Series of Articles About Admission Agents:

  1. Part 1: Truth About US College Admission Agents and Their Business Model (this article)
  2. Part 2: US College Admission Agents Intimidate Naive Students To Make a Quick Buck
  3. Part 3: True Story: Agent: Pay $5000 or You Can’t Study in the U.S.
  4. Part 4: Students Using Admission Agents In USA Are Academically Unprepared (Research Article)
  5. Part 5: The Role of Consultancies in the Admission Process