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4 reasons to hire a counselor for international college advising

As the school year comes to a close and high school juniors look onwards to the big college question looming ahead, summer marks a time when a lot of students begin to get really serious about their college search.

And for those in the early stages of considering an education beyond their borders, many will assume that applying for college abroad is the same as applying for college in the U.S.

Unfortunately, they couldn't be more mistaken -- but that's exactly where a professional can help in international college advising.

Here are some other reasons to consider hiring an independent educational consultant (IEC) to help your child apply for college abroad.

University of St Andrews

International college advising - finding the best fit

Often, parents of students applying for college abroad sign up for an initial 45-minute meeting with me in the hopes of getting a few burning questions answered and doing the rest of the research/process on their own.

In this session, they soon find out there is a lot more that goes into the process, and one of the most commonly asked questions I then get is:

"With so many options out there, how do we even begin to search and narrow down options?"

In this case, I direct them to useful websites, provide places to start and things to consider, but it's very difficult for the student and parent to navigate through all the options on their own, not knowing much about the cities, institutions or even the campus culture.

For example, in the UK alone, where almost all of my students apply, there are around 160 universities.

Many will initially be drawn to the name-brand universities, but these aren't always the best suited choices for most students.

And most won't have the opportunity to visit and get that firsthand glimpse of campus life either.

So what ends up happening is that almost all families that initially signed up for that one consultation end up coming back for comprehensive guidance, in which case I'll work with the family to get a better understanding of the student's key college criteria, financial budget, etc.

Then, I do the narrowing process to suggest universities that meet all their wants, needs, personality and interests, making the process much more straightforward and easy to navigate for them.

Sometimes they'll even end up with suggestions in other countries that they end up liking even more.

It's my job to make sure students carefully consider all their options before mentally committing to one.

Advice on admissions likelihood

But it's not all just about fit; students should be applying to universities where they have somewhat of a chance of admission, too.

Having worked in recruitment and admissions overseas for 10 years, I'm able to review a student's transcript and have a pretty strong understanding of their admissions chances into certain programs.

So when I offer the initial list of suggested schools, I also earmark each one with their chances of admission grouped into three categories: Likely, Target and Aspirational (the latter of which being the most difficult to get into--but not impossible).

In the UK, for example, where students can apply for only five choices, I like to have my students applying to at least two "likely" schools, a maximum of one "aspirational" school, and for the remaining two choices, either "likely" or "target" schools.

This will give them the best chances, but admissions strategy is something that can be difficult for students to figure out on their own.

Keeping on track

On top of the college knowledge and admissions strategy that an IEC brings to the table, the third component/reason for hiring an IEC has to do with organization.

The college application process comes at at time when high school students are often taking the most challenging curriculum at school, prepping for standardized tests, keeping up with their extracurriculars, planning prom dates--and this year, dealing with a worldwide pandemic to boot.

If a student is applying to colleges in multiple countries, it can be a lot, if not overwhelming to figure out all the dates, deadlines and requirements.

But an IEC brings a set college planning curricula and schedule that is then adapted and personalized based on each individual student.

And when the process is clearly broken down for students, it becomes manageable to the point where they can focus on other things without worrying about missing a step or two along the way.

An investment in your child's future

A college education is typically the second largest expense a family will ever have apart from buying a house.

And you wouldn't buy a house without a the guidance of a professional/agent, so why go through the college search process alone?

...Especially a foreign one, with so many additional aspects to consider.

I certainly wish I had that kind of help back when I was applying!

And if you do decide to hire an IEC, I highly recommend checking out this list of 12 questions to ask them before doing so to ensure you've found the right one.


Interested in learning more about my advising services for college options abroad?

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G'day! My name is Sara, and I'm the founder of College Apps Abroad and a Certified Educational Planner (CEP), one of only 40 CEP's in California and 300 worldwide. I have more than 10 years of experience working in international recruitment and admissions, and I've studied and lived overseas myself in the UK, Ireland, Australia and Brazil for almost a decade. I've also worked for some of the world's top institutions, including The University of Edinburgh, the University of New South Wales (UNSW) and The University of Western Australia (UWA)!

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