For better or for worse?

For better or for worse?

For better or for worse?

For many students who are looking to study overseas, getting some professional help is deemed necessary.

The application process at most foreign universities is, to say the least, complicated — and third-party advice can smoothen out the entire experience remarkably. But with counsellors cottoning on to the fact that their advice can actually translate into good profit, what began as a small business has now grown into a thriving industry.

Thousands of Indian stud­e­nts approach counselling firms for help but like in any profit-driven situation, there are certain aspects which these students have to keep in mind. Metrolife speaks to a few students and counsellors to find out what these are.

Prateek Jalan, a college student who went through the process of applying abroad last year, says that while a counsellor’s advice can be helpful, there are certain parts of the application process which students must handle on their own. One of these is preliminary groundwork.

“It’s important to first decide what one wants to do.

“The international system is very liberal and it’s important to be certain of what one would like to take up,” he observes. While he believes that external help makes a world of a difference when it comes to applying for financial aid or scholarship, he says that it’s important that students don’t take this help too far.

“Issues like merit-based and need-based financial aid can be complicated and counsellors really help understand them. But when it comes to essays, I think it’s better to tackle them on your own. My own counsellor rejected pretty much everything I wrote in my essay and edited it completely before sending it across — so it wasn’t original in the least,” he recalls.

Balram Jairaj, a student who is currently at Bentley University in Boston, took the middle road and opted to work out his application with his school counsellor rather than an external one. “A lot of my peers did go for private firms and I think their essays turned out to be standardised — their applications lacked a personal touch.

But with my school counsellor, the situation was different. I had to write every single essay myself and she would simply give me feedback. I had to fill out the forms as well. My counsellor was mainly a point of contact between me and the admission office at the university. She helped work out the logistics of applying abroad,” he explains.

Ameen Mudassar, a career counsellor, too is of the opinion that parts of the application — such as essays and statements of purpose — should be tackled by students entirely on their own. “Things like the SOP shouldn’t be given out by counselling institutions. It’s better for students to handle them on their own, to retain originality,” he says.

However, he has another point to make — sometimes, counsellors are very keen to get students into foreign universities, simply because they actually receive a commission for doing so.

“Many such counsellors actually work as agents who recruit for universities. They get a commission of around Rs two lakh for each student they get for the college – so they do put a lot of effort into ensuring a student has a good application,” he notes.

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