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BEWARE! Your study abroad consultant could be a LIAR!

Last updated on: October 2, 2012 10:24 IST

BEWARE! Your study abroad consultant could be a LIAR!

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Team Careers360

Recently, a Careers360 team member went undercover as a student seeking advice from a well-known study abroad counseling company. The correspondent chronicles the study abroad racket...

What the correspondent discovered was shocking -- most foreign education consultants tend to provide free counseling for specific countries, while charging a bomb for counseling for the remaining.

Why is this? Read on to know more...

I was recently bitten by the study abroad bug, but was clueless about exams like the GRE, GMAT, the right country, when and how to appear, how much money do I need, etc. I had hundreds of questions running on my mind!

I browsed the Internet and found thousands of study abroad websites but none provided the basic information I was looking for. Interestingly, all these websites were interested in my contact details. After researching online for a week, I decided to go for a consultant.

I visited a few consultants' sites, submitted my details and got a call from one counsellor within 30 minutes of submission. He explained to me about his company and told me that he is booking my appointment for 11 a.m the next day at his head office.

I wondered about the phrase 'booking appointment'. Is this a big deal?

Next morning at 9 am, I got call from the same company reminding me of the appointment.

Wow...I am in need of advice and here the advisor is treating me like a special guest reminding me about my appointment etc!!!

Please click NEXT to continue reading...


Photographs: Rohit Gautam/Careers360.com
Tags: GRE , BEWARE , LIAR , GMAT

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'What exactly is your budget?'

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I reached the office at the appointed time.

The conversation with receptionist went something like this:

Receptionist: Which country are you looking for?

Me: I don't know any thing. I want to understand about countries as well...

Receptionist: Fir bhi koi country to socha hoga aapne? (Still, you must have thought about some country?)

Me: Nahin (No). I need basic guidance.

Receptionist: What exactly is your budget?

I thought: Why is she asking about budget when I am saying I need guidance. Anyway, I replied that I can pay Rs 50 lakhs.

Receptionist: Good. Fill this form and wait for your turn.

Me: OK

Illustration: Uttam Ghosh




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'Do you understand meaning of GATE?'

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In the waiting area, I found myself amongst hundreds of students and parents waiting their turn.

In a minute, I was served coffee and offered a comfortable chair. I noticed two to three counsellors entertaining parents. 

Yes, it is entertaining! Check the conversation.

Entertainer: So buddy want to study abroad? (The entertainer always speaks to the student, but his attention is geared towards the parents)

The student: Yes.

Entertainer: What are you doing nowadays?

Student: I have completed my BTech.

Entertainer: Oh wonderful. Which college?

Student: XXIT (name changed)

Entertainer: Wow, XX Institute of technology...fantastic! That is a great college. Which branch?

Student: E&C

Entertainer: Very good, so do you understand meaning of GATE?

Student: Yes, Sir.

Entertainer to parents: Wow, exceptional. He is fantastic. You should really send your child to the United Kingdom, he deserves it!

I was wondering, why did he say the UK? Why not any other country? Also, why is the entertainer's response to everything the student says 'wow', 'wonderful' or 'fantastic'?

Simultaneously, a lady was talking to her daughter. Lady to the daughter: "Beta you should focus on one country rather than jumping from US, UK, Canada etc".

Immediately another entertainer within earshot jumps into the conversation. He said to the kid, "Aapne vo suna hai na jase arjun ne fish ki aakh main tir maara tha (You must have heard the story about Arjun aiming his arrow on the fish's eye).

You too must focus on one country -- the UK."

The excited mother immediately caught on.

"See, what Sir is saying. Focus on just one country, UK."

The UK seems to be the only country worth going, according to people here.

After waiting for approximately 45 minutes, one counsellor called me.

Illustration: Uttam Ghosh




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'What if I still want to understand about the US?'

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Counsellor (looking at my profile, which I filled at the reception): Wow, you have secured good marks.

Me: Ya (I had filled 90 per cent plus marks at all levels)

Counsellor: Okay, so let's start. I will explain you about the UK in detail first and then discuss how you should start.

Me: But why the UK? Madam, I need guidance on other countries as well. I want to understand which country I should go for and why. I don't know anything.

After a lot of thought, the counsellor took a paper and drew a line in the middle. She wrote UK on one side and US, Canada etc on the other side, and gave me 20 plus reasons why the UK is the place to go and not the others.

For instance, the UK fee structure is less than that of the US, and that you can complete MBA in one year, etc.

She also told me that they would help me for free if I applied to the UK. If I wished to apply to other countries, I would have to pay for their counselling fees that start from Rs 35,000 besides college application fees and also appear for the GMAT.

But for the UK, it's easier as you don't have to pay counselling fees. Also there is no application fees and you can apply to universities without the GMAT score and so on. The consultant told me to appear for a GMAT mock test (which is paid for) that will help her identify my level and also suggest appropriate colleges.

Me: I don't want to give this test. Suppose I get 500 marks?

Counsellor (after a lot of argument she agreed): OK, here is your college list.

She came out with a list of five universities. During this process she showed my application to the neighbouring counsellor and asked, "Tum kya suggest karte ho iski profile dekh ke? ("Seeing his profile, what will you suggest?)

Me: Thank you madam. What if I still want to understand about the US?

Illustration: Uttam Ghosh



Tags: UK , GMAT , US , Uttam Ghosh , MBA

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For every student, a consultant earns between Rs 50k and 1.5 lakhs

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The counsellor reluctantly forwarded my application to the US one.

The US counsellor wrapped up everything in two minutes (explaining their fee structure etc) whereas the UK counsellor gave me nearly 40 minutes.

I came down to the waiting lounge feeling confused. After spending approximately three hours, all I know is that the UK is the place to go. I visited three more consultants.

At one place, Australia was the place to go. Another insisted on Canada. The last consultant I visited cleared the scene for me.

For every student, a consultant sends to a university, s/he earns between Rs 50k and 1.5 lakh as commission from the university.

And whichever country or college does not pay the commission, the student pays for the counselling!   

To be fair to them, none of them ever gave me an impression that they would 100 per cent get me admission to a foreign university.

But the way they made it look so easy for a particular country is a dead giveaway. I'm not saying that you should not choose a study abroad counsellor but choose smartly.

Do your research or else you may end up with a college that has a lower standing when compared to your scores. 
 
Careers360's advice: Do your own research. Consult university ratings. Cross-question consultants till you feel satisfied.

Illustration: Uttam Ghosh




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