The decision to study abroad is often the result of years of planning, but if you’re like me, it can also be an impulsive decision. What I came to understand is that planning a study abroad is a gargantuan process that requires your effort, time and sometimes money.
I found I had two choices: do my own research and apply directly to universities or go through an international education agent. Despite my cynicism and doubts, I decided to work with an agency because I was short on time and didn’t know where to start. All I knew was that I wanted to study at a good university in Australia. Then a family friend recommended IDP to me and I’m glad I listened.
There are many stereotypes surrounding international education consultants and agents. However, I am currently studying at my dream university in Australia and choosing to check in with an IDP advisor was the best decision I ever made.
I know many of you may be at a crossroads due to mixed reviews on various education agencies online. While I can’t tell you about all the international education agents, I’m here to debunk some common myths based on my personal experience with displaced people and hopefully save you from the internal dilemma.
1. The consultation is expensive
Believe it or not, it’s free. Or at least it should be. I remember how stunned my parents were when the IDP counselor said the service came at no cost (other than visa-related fees, of course).
My parents were not convinced that there were no hidden fees and continued to carry money for all of our meetings until the end of my application process. But the service remained free until the very end.
2. They choose your universities for you
When I chose Australia as my study destination, my dean encouraged me to list all the universities I wanted to apply for.
They didn’t influence my college choices in any way, other than helping me research the best universities in my field. In fact, my counselor did everything to help me — from mapping out my essay requirements to mapping out student housing options.
3. They are not authentic
There are often questions about the credibility or authenticity of agents and advisors for fear of fraudulent practices. And in all honesty, that’s a valid concern.
That is why it is important to find registered agencies or the ones recommended by your trusted family or friends. Trust and reputation are essential when looking at your education agency options and choosing the best match for you is important.
4. The quality of the consultation depends on the choice of country
In my experience it didn’t. The IDP office I visited had trained professionals with years of experience assigned to different countries.
Their specialized knowledge and expertise about the different study destinations even enhanced the quality of my consultations.
5. They make the process harder, not easier
I had assumed that working with an agency made the application process at universities more difficult. But that changed when I met my counselor. All I had to do was provide my documents relevant to the application.
My counselor made the application process easier by listing the documents ahead of time so I was well prepared. They also offered expert advice on potential issues I might face during the application that could otherwise hinder the process if you decide to do it yourself.
6. They are only out to earn commissions from high paying universities
If this were true, my supervisor would have persuaded me to change my mind about my choice of universities.
Not only did my counselor help me apply to my top universities before the deadline, but they also helped me immensely when my applications came back with discouraging responses. My counselor offered alternate ways to reapply or resolve this issue if there was a possible solution. And I honestly believe they wouldn’t have gone this far if they had been profit oriented from the start.
The process of applying for universities and visas is time consuming and arduous. And one wrong move – such as uploading the wrong documents or providing the wrong information – can jeopardize your chance and put you at risk of being denied.
Going through an education office can help you avoid these mistakes and increase your chances of success in getting an admission. My experience with IDP speaks for itself and I can guarantee it’s worth it.
Swathi is a postgraduate student at the University of Melbourne. When she’s not working, she’s studying her cat or indulging in TV shows.