Why Is College Consulting Crucial for Acceptance at US Colleges?

International education consultancy is a very specific consulting profession and requires careful work and expertise. What makes this consultation special is the fact that it is supposed to be offered within a personalized framework. Finding the opportunity that will provide the person with the best education at the least cost and with the least loss of time is a process that requires serious brainstorming and knowledge. Yes, international education consulting gets a little complicated because the details really depend on the students’ financial and educational backgrounds as well as their future career plans. Further, mistakes during the application process can lead to serious financial losses. In addition, mistakes can also result in serious loss of valuable time. Worst of all is the fact that these losses are usually not noticed by the international students. A student may never know the opportunities he missed by submitting a non-professional application, which may cost him thousands of dollars’ worth of scholarships. Maybe he will realize too late that by missing crucial deadlines, he missed his chance to study at a higher-ranking school.

So, what do we mean by personalized consulting? Each student’s educational background and future educational plans may differ significantly from those of his peers. And it is not just the major differences; even the minor details affect the road map to be drawn by the consultant. The problem is not limited to education. A student’s economic situation, age, and even his marital status are factors that should be seriously considered before submitting college applications. Beyond these, a student’s psychological resilience should also be measured. After all, there will be months when they will be away from their loved ones. Solitude is difficult in a different social environment.

Students are generally confused about issues related to study abroad. In their minds, only the overall objective is clear: they simply want to have good English skills and a higher education degree from a good university. Students who graduated from high schools usually have dreams that do not include details; they simply wish to attend college somewhere outside of their home country. The question becomes “where should we begin when planning for this study abroad?” The first thing is financial matters. It is the first and often the last issue that discourages these students. Their education will cost many thousands of dollars (I’m speaking for the United States). Even the plane tickets are very costly—not to mention living expenses. Where will you stay? Perhaps there is someone familiar who you might lodge with, but they may be only distantly related. Which school should I choose? Who should be contacted from the school? Is the school a good school? Answering dozens of critical questions like these can only occur after research has been conducted by someone who knows these jobs professionally. During this research, it is of course necessary to always listen attentively to the student.

Let’s illustrate. Which school out of hundreds of schools should be chosen for an international relations graduate? The more critical question is which graduate programs could be considered an acceptable alternative? Yes, why not have a master’s degree in a different branch. What is the grade point average he maintained at his undergraduate university? What are the academic and social achievements of the past? How good are his exam results? How much money does his budget allow to be allocated to his studies? Does he know anyone in America? If so, how can they help? Do you have a driver license? These and dozens of similar questions should be answered so that an informed decision can be made. A master’s degree in international relations that can earned with thirty-six credits at one school might require forty-five credits at another school at the same level; those nine additional credits are likely to be a waste of time and money. If you say that the forty-five credit program is from one of the top twenty schools, then perhaps you are justified in pursuing that option. But if one of the schools ranks ninetieth, and the other ranks one hundred and twentieth, I think there is no need to be a hero. Then again, if you say, “while I study the forty-five credit program, I will stay with my relatives,” this would merit a second look, and an analysis of how much money would be saved by not having room and board expenses.

I once read the personal statement of a student who had a 111/120 TOEFL score but who tried to sort things out by himself. I do not think there is any school that would have read that letter and accepted him. It was so badly written that we ended up changing it from top to bottom. There were several errors in this brief letter of intent, including but not limited to: (1) repeating information already contained in his application, (2) spending too long discussing personal issues, (3) making simple grammatical errors, (4) failing to demonstrate capability of university level of study, and (5) not going into enough details about experiences.

I can cite reference letters as another example. Reference letters are required for your undergraduate and graduate (including doctorate) applications. You are generally expected to receive these letters from faculty members. The teacher from whom you will receive the letter may not write an impressive reference letter for you. You might think that all that matter is that he wrote it, but an ineffective reference letter will turn into a disadvantage for you. So, what does a professional college counselor do? He/she examines the contents of reference letters. If those letters are not creating the expected impact over the reader, he/she gives it back to the student for correction. So, the student would ask his teacher again. In many cases, the counselor completes convincing and solid reference letters on behalf of the teacher/instructor and those teachers and instructors sign the letters after correcting minor errors. This is not a legal problem, since some instructors or teachers are not comfortable with English, and so are not able to focus on these letters.

There are more detailed topics, and it is a professional expert’s job to think about all of them at once and to make accurate analyses. I do not recommend that you undertake these things on your own when preparing your college applications.

Erkan Acar, PhD

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