In yesterday’s article, we examined how you can tell if your international education agent is working for himself, not for you or the school. It is unfortunate, but there are some bad agents out there. Luckily, it is easy to tell who they are. And, even more luckily, the huge majority of international recruiters are good and honest people who want to help you get to the school of your dreams, and get your life situated on the path you desire.
Because make no mistake: the agent you work with is hugely important. You want to get to the right school, and you want someone to help you navigate through the paperwork and bureaucracy involved. Here are a few tips for telling if your agent is on the up-and-up.
They Detail What Services They Will Provide- And for What Fee
There are, by and large, two ways that agents work. Some work for the school, and we talked about the dangers of commission-based representatives and how good schools refuse to operate that way. But not every school has the means to hire agents, or the desire. (An upcoming article will dive deeper into these two systems.) There are some schools that only want to deal with agents hired by the student or their families. The benefit of this system is that the agent has only your interest to deal with. The downside is that you don’t know if they are going to try to pull a fast one.
We’ve all dealt with a salesperson who assures you that you’re getting a great deal on a car, a couch, or a sandwich, only to find that the price you paid doesn’t include a working radio, cushions, or condiments. It can be the same with a recruiting agent. If you are thinking about hiring your own agent, besides looking for proper accreditation, you need to make sure that they are detailed about expenses. Make sure that they aren’t vague: They don’t just promise to “get you into a school”, but will outline their strategy on a cost-by-cost basis, from looking for schools to the application process to travel. Not every agent will do all of these things, so you need to make sure that you are only paying for services you’ll receive, and that you are prepared to handle things on your own, if need be. You don’t want any surprises.
They let you suceed on your own
A good sign that someone is working for you, and not for themselves, is that they don’t try to force you into a school or manipulate the system. Agents, even if they are trying to be helpful, should never write your application essay or fill out your application with information that they think will work better. Agents, if they are good, know what it takes to get into a school. They will help and guide you, and work with your talents- but they won’t do it for you.
If a recruiter says, “Oh, you want to say X, Y, and Z,” or tells you to leave something off the application because they know “what works best,” they are not a good agent. You shouldn’t get into a school through dishonesty or agent manipulation. It’s a pretty good bet that if an agent is recommending that, they aren’t honest. And then you don’t know what else they are going to lie about. And besides, not writing your own essay is no way to kick off an academic career. A good recruiter will help you succeed, but only on your own merits.
And that’s the thing about studying abroad. It is about your merits, and what you can do with your abilities, drive, and passion. An agent is going to help you work with these to get into the right school, the one that works for you, that fits your needs, and will help you become a true citizen of the world. A recruiter is an important step in that, guiding you- but not leading you. After all, you’re the next generation of leaders, and it starts now.
The international student experience is both challenging and exciting. Whether you are a student considering studying in America, their parent, the host family, the Head of School, an international coordinator, or even a potential classmate, there are as many opportunities for confusion as there are to learn. The ISPA is here to help bridge that gap, to ensure that this opportunity and adventure is met with the highest level of success.