Should I find an agent or a consultant to help with my college application?

Posted on:2011-August 2

Before talking about this issue, we must first make clear one thing: a lot of agents in China also do consulting business, while a company advertises itself as a consulting company may also do agent business stealthily. Thus the "consultation" that we refer to here includes consulting service provided by the consulting firms specialized in consulting service, but also the agents' consulting business; the "agent" that we mention in this article refers to both the traditional agents, and those that call themselves consulting firms because they are not eligible for agent license in China, but in fact are also secretly doing business as agents. As to how to distinguish these two, please read another article on the Edugym website Consultants vs Agents.

When deciding whether you should seek help from a consultant or an agent, you can consider two things before making your decision:

First, make your decision based on what causes you to seek a paid service

Is it because your poor English gives you limited knowledge on the College Application process, and you only want to apply for a regular school, or is it because you want to try your best to get in a premier school?

If the reason is the former one, you should seek an agent. Because an agent will receive agent fees from its contracted school when they successfully help the school enroll a student, usually an agent will refund some fees if they can't help the student get into a school. But a consultant usually won't give such promise. However, if it is because you want to get in a very good school, you should seek a consulting firm since it is impossible for an agent to sign an agreement with a very good school, especially it is almost impossible when this premier school is in the United States.

One thing you must be clear is it will never happen because a student is recommended by an agent, his acceptance rate will be higher. An Agent often advocates itself having a "partnership" with universities, and students will have better chance to get in if they work with the agent. Nevertheless, 这完全是骗人的。说穿了这种合作关系就是大学花钱请中介作推广。这和卖主绝不会把卖房子的决定权交给房产中介一样,大学也不可能让关乎学校发展前途的学生录取与否的决定权受到中介的影响 。

Secondly, decide it according to how much you know the application procedure

The more you know about the college application, the more you are suitable for seeking for a consultant's help; while the less you know the application procedure, the more you are suitable to go for an agent.

Since in seeking help from an agent, only need you to look for a big company because the larger the agency is, the more the schools it can sign contracts with, hence, the more schools students can choose to apply to. Also large companies are more formal; besides, by China's law, a certified company is required to put 500 thousands yuan in the education department as a security deposit. When any dispute arises, the deposit can be used to pay the customer as compensation if the complaint can be verified. So even if you have a little knowledge about the US college application, as long as you find a certified large company to work for you, if you are not satisfied with them later, it will not reach the point of terribly messing things up.

Completely different from seeking help at agency, when seeking a consultant, you should judge the consultant's ability by yourself. Neither a method to effectivlly determine a consultant's skills exists in China, nor an effective mechanism is there to prevent and punish consultants who make up their background and qualifications. What's more, a consultant's level and ability is independent of the company size, and also has nothing to do with whether the company is certified or not. Hence , it can be only judged by your own eyes. Thus it requires you at least have a certain knowledge on the U.S. college application. The more you know about it, the easier you can judge a consultant's true level, and the less you will be cheated by an unethical consultant's rhetoric.