US College Admission Agents Intimidate Naive Students To Make a Quick Buck

Following blog post was posted as a comment by Radhika Jalan at Truth About US Admission Agents. Her experience is a learning lessons for students who are using Consultant for applying for admission to U.S. Universities. There’s absolutely no need to apply for admission via Admission Agents. Several blog posts have been published here comparing the advantages of self-application to U.S. Universities.


Hello everyone,

I wish to post my experiences of applying to U.S. for a PhD (I did it with the help of my uncle who is experienced in this field) and at the same time I want to share the experiences of a close friend who visited a very famous U.S. admission consulting agency which has its franchise all over the country.

I was initially confused as to whether I should take some classes for my GRE and TOEFL, but fortunately I knew my uncle is great with this so I visited him and got trained. I secured a 1460 in GRE and 106 in TOEFL.

What I understood in this entire process of GRE and TOEFL preparation is that no amount of classes can help.

There are very good study materials and online sites which are of greater help. At the same time this close friend of mine joined a GRE preparation class by paying 30,000 Indian Rupees.

They offered her only fixed number of classes and their study material which I borrowed from her and I realized that it was basically copied from past GRE test papers which is anyway available otherwise. Her queries were dealt with but not thoroughly.

The only advantage she had was to give KAPLAN and other Online tests. But, those are anyway available at American Libraries in cities like Delhi, Kolkata and Mumbai.

U.S. College Application Shortlisting

Now comes the application and shortlisting. I was encouraged by my uncle to apply to top ranking universities considering my GRE scores.

However, my friend who had scored almost similarly was discouraged by this educational consultant to do so.

She had to pay another 30,000 rupees to these admission consultant. The services offered by them  are as follows:

Helping in writing Statement of Purpose

  • Shortlisting universities (6 Universities)
  • Help in filling up applications
  • Mailing the application package

Each extra application done with their help would be charged additionally.

The universities they shortlisted for her were all poorly ranked (which I guess explains that they get commissions from these universities). From her side she applied to some of the good universities and is now a graduate student in one of those.

The educational consultant made almost no effort to help her in the SOP. It was not edited even 10% and still had sentence construction errors even after having gone through the hands of a “professional editor”. They made no efforts to modify her CV. Basically, her money spent was a total waste and was of no help to her.

One of my present batch mates at Graduate school also consulted the same Admission consultants at another city in India and she had similar experiences. I am sure most of you all can guess which consultant am I talking about.

My advice to all future applicants, please follow guidelines online, read blogs and application process would be much simpler. So will the VISA process be.

These consultants make it sound difficult and intimidate naive students.

It isn’t so actually. It just requires some additional hard work from our side rather than depending on these consultants and wasting our parents money.


Fact or Fiction?

The universities they shortlisted for her were all poorly ranked ( which I guess explains that they get commissions from these universities).

Exactly, for the same reason, U.S. Universities are reluctant to work with US Admission Agents (or Student Recruiting Agents).

Universities can set and establish strict guidelines  for education agent for recruiting students, but enforcing them is difficult.

  • Students don’t know the list of schools agents have commission based agreement.
  • Universities don’t know how admission consulting was provided to students.

Your Experience?

Have you visited any education agent recently, what was your experience like? I’m sure several HSB readers are working with agent admission. How would you rate your experience?

Series of Articles About Admission Agents:

  1. Part 1: Truth About US College Admission Agents and Their Business Model
  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)
  5. Part 5: The Role of Consultancies in the Admission Process 

37 Comments

  1. Jack Sparrow on October 23, 2012 at 2:53 PM

    The admission consultants so called are f**king basta*ds who will ruin yu time, money, hope and energy in this process !! I got a low score in GRE and the consultants helped me with my SOP and suggested me some universities !! The fact is they r all standard univs and got rejected from all the univs which i applied for !! they doest even know abt u or yur profile…they jus need money !! pls stay away guys pls do apply urself for univs !!

  2. Aravind on April 11, 2012 at 11:05 PM

    Same happening with me now…..before paying money they used to call daily twice,now that i have paid all their charges(service charge,application fee for Colleges, BS and affidavits) they don’t even inform me anything about my application status i have to follow up them by going to their place or ringing them up ,i paid 25k and still i have to report my gre and ielts another 10k……

  3. munna on March 28, 2012 at 7:35 AM

    If we follow the basic advice regarding procedure by sites like HSB and also follow the guidelines on websites of International Student Offices of universities, we do not need any consultants. Its just waste of money.

  4. Nithin on March 27, 2012 at 1:07 PM

    Well, I have many friends who have fallen to the trap of con-sellers. Spending their parent’s hard earned money on these idiots. Sites like edulix.com and HSB have abundant info which is more than enough for applying for MS. Infact,the money you saved can be used to apply to more dream universities.I am happy I haven’t fallen into their traps and will be heading to carnegie mellon this fall(if i get a visa that is 😀 )

  5. Luther on March 26, 2012 at 11:47 PM

    Hi ,

    Not all consultancies are bad , I joined one of the famous consultancy for GRE coaching and admission counselling , GRE coaching was excellent but then my score was OK it was not all that high (probably I lacked preperations). Coming to admission counselling – I was initially told to fill in a form which contained all my info right from class 10 till my work experience , more importantly I was asked which Specialization was I interested in , based on my profile they shorlisted about 10-15 universities in the US , I was provided with all the links related to admission , Specialization , faculty etc… these 10 -15 universities were a combination of top , good , average and hence I had a choice of applying to only those universities for which my profile and scores would match.
    I was initially told to draft a tentative SOP , it was reviewed and sent back with comments , correction and aditional points ,after correcting and adding additional points I could re send the SOP for review as many times as I wish , I also had an option of sending my SOP for review to the verbal faculty who taught at the coaching center, same was the case with few of my LOR’s as few my recommenders were kind enough to take my opinion on the LOR before submitting it 😀

    Nothing was spoon fed here , I was given the information and guidance, it was up to me to research on it and then choose the right option and apply. since I opted for GRE coaching and admission counselling together , the counselling cost me just 5000 rupess , I felt it was worth it!!!!

    • Nikita on March 28, 2012 at 2:08 AM

      Can you please guide me as i too wanted to do MS. Which consultancies are good one?

    • Sameera on March 30, 2012 at 5:56 AM

      Luther,

      Looks like you’ve gone to a good consultancy 🙂

    • sangram. on May 28, 2012 at 9:49 AM

      guys …. pls suggest me good institutions for GRE+TOEFLS in Delhi or Noida.

  6. Sameera on March 26, 2012 at 10:36 PM

    I think I visited the same one that was mentioned in this post, the very very reputed institute… and its a waste of money, thankfully I did not take Toefl Coaching, but I did for GRE and well for a science background person, I felt math was kinda tricky, well anyway nothing helped me, I didn’t get good score, also I wasn’t offered any help for preparing my SOP, it was such a waste of money. Above all I applied to all top notch universities with low GRE because apparently I never got any guidance for anything and my parents did not trust any other consultancy, which is kind of lame on my part too 🙁 I ended up in not getting admit for PhD. So finally I figured where my feet were after a semester and half.. and then reapplied for my second masters in US.. This time on my own, and without copying SOP from internet, by preparing it myself in my own words and happy school blog helped me all through my application, I read how others applied, how to attend visa interview and what to pack for US, infact I wish I had done this before, may be I would’ve ranked better in GRE too. Everything worked out well and as expected I got admit for MS. But I guess all this wasted valuable three to four years in my life, now I’m going to PhD, by giving my GRE again, also I’ve more research experience now, but it took so long.. Although I got funding in the present university for masters, I still feel time isn’t equal to money…
    P.S : I would say there are very few consultancies that are genuine, most of the reputed ones are just a waste of time and money. Try applying on your own.

    • Nikita on March 28, 2012 at 2:14 AM

      Hello Sameera,
      I’m Nikita and I wanted to do MS. As I read your blog, you seem to be experienced well. So can u help me out for how to take admission in US.

  7. Ajinder on March 26, 2012 at 2:58 PM

    Hi HSB please explain me, I am preparing for revised GRE and planning for FALL 2013 for my Masters. I graduated in AUG 2011 and working in a International company in R & D Department. But I have working bond of 3 years with the company (which means If I leave the job in between for fall 2013 for my masters. The company won’t give me experience letter of the work experience , they will only give me experience letter if I complete my 3 years in the company which will end in OCT 2014) My question is would it affect in my visa interview or in my application for universties I select??
    I don’t have gap in my studies.

    I also have all the salary slips…. PLEASE HELP!

  8. vibhashu on March 26, 2012 at 2:39 PM

    i have given my gre and scores 315 and now preparing for tofel and plan to apply for start of 2013,i have done my b-tech in ece …can anyone give me advise how to apply…i have no one to guide me ..

    • Mihir on March 26, 2012 at 10:35 PM

      Hey vibhanshu…i too have a similar profile in ece…i am targetting spring2013 nd universities i am planning for are ncsu, neu, uni of wosconsin at madison, umass dartmouth, uni of missouri coloumbia, clemson and rit…. I want to go towards intelligent systems & robotics so i got courses on east coast only…. If u have smthng like vlsi or computer science on mind i would suggest select uni on west coast as u’ll get courses there and whole industry is there… Also assuming from ur btech degree that u r from a reputed college , if u have good academics u can target better unis than me… Use usnews or washington daily for rankings…. Best of luck

      • vibhashu on March 27, 2012 at 1:13 PM

        i was thinking more of in communication field,can help me with the universities which are provide me in basically in communication…i have no idea in what field i can go but i want to be in field related to electtronics and communiaction basically communiaction,,

        • Mihir on March 27, 2012 at 9:46 PM

          almost all unis in my prev comment have a communication course..apart from that you can check rutgers, california state uni(s), University of california(all of them), texas dallas, texas a&m, FIT, etc. I don’t know for sure if they all have a communication course but check their sites they will have a related course in electrical engg. u’ll have to find it out.

  9. Shekar on March 26, 2012 at 1:00 PM

    Applying to US universities is no Rocket Science. Every university website details out the do’s and dont’s for applying, every intricate detail is posted on the websites. You can always contact the graduate coordinator and they will be more than happy to guide you through. Just make sure that the information you are seeking isn’t already present on the university website.

    I visited two such reputed Educational Consultants in Mumbai just to get an idea what services are provided and how much they charge for the same. One word to describe the experience, IRRITATING. There follow-up is sickening. Once you are in there database they keep calling you, texting you, dropping emails every alternative day.

    And yes, they always try to push you to apply to universities that they have tie-ups with.

  10. Vinay on March 26, 2012 at 12:45 PM

    I prepared for GRE on my own, prepared(hardly) for TOEFL on my own, filled up the applications, wrote my SOP, LOR, etc etc everything on my own. And guess what?? I got admit in all the universities I applied to. And I am pretty darn happy with it. It all comes down to your self-belief. You can either go and get robbed by these agents or put in a little effort and be proud of yourselves eventually. Not too tough a choice if you ask me!

  11. inderpal on March 26, 2012 at 11:58 AM

    Not all the consultants are same. There are also very good consulting agencies which help in all the ways. In my us application process they listed.universities of my choice. Moreover my SOP and resume were prepared by them. I got admission in OHIO state university that i could never believe because my profile was not very strong to get admission in these type of univ. So the choice matters at the end. Moreover the fees is not very high. They explained me more about the US admission process and how to manage the fees of US univ rather than talking about universities.

    • HSB on March 26, 2012 at 12:03 PM

      Good for you.

  12. varun on March 26, 2012 at 11:11 AM

    I had given my GRE last year and yes I had joined coaching classes , but it really helped me out (1490 looks like a pretty decent score for me) unfortunately admission guidance and counselling was not offered there , so I visited a very reputed admissions counselor (The C***R**)which has its franchise all over the country as well. I too was offered all the services for a fee of 17k…The universities suggested by them were all below par , so I had made my own listed …As for assistance with my SOP, not even a single word was edited out (I had a typo which I later corrected) ..No help was provided for filling up the applications (they had asked me to come at their office which is like 1 1/2 hrs drive from where I stay..on reaching the office i was allotted a PC and was asked to start filling the forms )…. Now I have completed all the application and finance related work all by my self .. I have already got 4 admits out of the 8 univs I had applied to … still waiting for the other 4 to reply…all-n-all I would suggest you not to opt for GRE counselors as 9 outta 10 times you’ll land up in univs way below than what you deserve.. The application work is pretty simple and straightforward … and you can get any sort of help from seniors.
    PS: If you figured out the counselors name in my post PLEASE dont land up there .. just a friendly warning.

    • HSB on March 26, 2012 at 11:25 AM

      Waste of Rs17,000 (~$330).

    • HSB on March 26, 2012 at 11:26 AM

      Why did you go to them in forts place?
      What kind of service did they promise to offer and what did you get?

      • varun on March 26, 2012 at 11:49 AM

        17k down the drain … to be honest I really busy with my job and had certification exams to clear … so i felt getting a GRE “CON”-selor would be a good option …The services they had promised were
        1) university selection
        2) SOP editing
        3) polishing my CV
        4)Help in filling up all my apps (no constraints on no. of apps)
        5)Cheaper courier service, they had a tie up with some company (later they backed off.. and I had sent all my packages thru UPS)
        6) Visa Interview

        • varun on March 26, 2012 at 11:52 AM

          Didn’t answer to the second part of your question outta the 6 …I did the first 5 on my own …. VI is still remaining and i’ll probably do it myself

          • HSB on March 26, 2012 at 11:54 AM

            Thanks Varun. Good luck with your visa.



  13. springtargeter on March 26, 2012 at 10:40 AM

    i am also going through same fate…
    there is this agency i am going to…they say call me anytime you want and ask for help but whenever i call up when i am confused..they are more confused than i am!!

  14. Vignesh Muralidharan on March 26, 2012 at 10:24 AM

    I applied to 4 univs in US for the Fall 2012 term and have got admits in 3 of them (TAMU, NCSU & UFL). I did not take any classes for GRE. But I applied to them through consultants and fortunately didn’t face any problem. All the univs were shortlisted based on our mutual agreement and in fact it was I who selected the univs. The money that I paid was also less. It depends on the particular consultancy that you approach (I was referred to mine by my seniors).
    Ultimately it is the student’s credentials that will secure him an admit from a particular univ and not whether or not he applied through an agency 🙂

    • Manish Lavekar on March 26, 2012 at 12:25 PM

      Hi Vignesh,
      Kindly let me know to which MS course in TAMU, because I have still not got results for the same. I have applied to Electrical Engineering. I still got only one admit in UCSB with no financial aid 🙁

      • ex-aggie on March 28, 2012 at 7:33 AM

        Avoid TAMU-College Station. situation regarding funding, internship, job very very bad there and the town is small town texas and it really is very boring there. Avoid TAMU at all costs.

      • Vignesh on March 31, 2012 at 12:52 PM

        I have got admit for MS in Industrial Engineering. But I haven’t got any financial aid from TAMU so far. Any way best of luck to you and just hope for the best 🙂

  15. George on March 26, 2012 at 10:04 AM

    I had taken GRE Max Prep from IMS Cochin (there were some awesome instructors there n i enjoyed d classes, thou I dint follow their study materials- used Barrons.) They had a consultation wing too, but they wouldn’t exactly select the univs for you and all. Basically what they did was providing the info I needed. Like, some schools don’t properly give in their website whens the deadline for international students, for some it will be pretty hard to find the dept code for GRE n TOEFL score reporting, so what i did was to ask them to find such stuffs for me. And when I selected the univs I used to ask them whats the avg GRE score for students admitted to that univ, funding scenarios, living expenses n fee etc, dunno from were, but thy used to give me all those info. And while sending the packets they told me abt courier companies with discounts for univ applications n so on. What I wanted basically was someone who could give me all the info I wanted and they were pretty gud at it. And I don’t think thy are like a full on agency, they do it just for their own students I guess. So, that’s my experience !

    • Mayank on March 26, 2012 at 12:25 PM

      All that info is available on the university website themselves, really. Everything that is true, be it for average score/fee, will be mentioned on the website. If it isn’t, the university doesn’t provide the information to all, simple as that.

      • George on March 30, 2012 at 3:08 AM

        May b true from ur experience. But i had probs like i could not find the dept code for a coupla univs. No info was provided in the websites. Mail the univs but din get the response immediately n i was getting late. Many such small things man. Not like, everything is given there n if its not its not thats it.

      • George on March 30, 2012 at 3:27 AM

        N i’m not saying one cannot do without an agency, not at all ! I jus would leave them the tit-bits of research i had to do, that’s it.

  16. Vandit on March 26, 2012 at 9:46 AM

    I am going to apply in Fall 2013 and have decided against the admission agents. It’s better to research a bit extra on one’s own instead of taking help of such agencies. My cousin had a similar experience and he told even though he had paid money, he did all his research on his own because the agency was not helpful.

  17. Ashwini on March 26, 2012 at 9:35 AM

    Hi,
    I agree with all that you have stated above. The best way is to work hard yourself and prioritize your needs. The admission process is so enriching in terms of gaining experience from all perspectives. I am applying for Ph.D in Life Sciences. What’s your field of Ph.D study??
    Thanks

  18. hari hara sudhan on March 26, 2012 at 9:13 AM

    Ha ha very true, people can believe in univ websites and univ staffs rather than these consultants, they no nothing except money..!!

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