Agents vs Consultants

Posted on: 2011-July 30, Latest Updated on : 2011-Dec 17

Many people are confused between agents and consultants. In fact, you can clearly notice the difference as long as you pay attention to the following three points:

I. What is the role the firm plays in the service?

Same as an estate agent, an international agent must help students to be admitted by a school before collecting a commission fee. Its role is to connect schools and students together. Thus it acts as a role of marriage intermediary. A consulting firm is to provide students with college application advice and application assistance. If you believe that the consulting firm can help you package yourself better, you sign a contract with the firm. Its role is more like a designer or a guidance teacher. However, many agents in China also play a role as a consulting firm. That's why a lot of people are confused about the distinction between the agency and consulting firm.

Since the consulting firm is dedicated to provide consultation for students, someone might ask whether there are companies dedicated to providing consultation for the schools. The answer is yes. For examples, some companies specifically help U.S. schools, such as tell schools how to deal with agents in China, how to contact China's secondary schools, and how Chinese students cheat in the applications and so on.

II. How the application materials are delivered and how the application results are received

The easiest way to distinguish an agent with a consultant is to see whether the application materials are sent by the agent or the students themselves. For the agency, the application materials are sent by the agent, and results of the application are mailed to the e-mail address or mailing address of the agent; for the consultant, the application materials are sent by the students themselves, and the application results are mailed to the student's Email address or mailing address.

To attract customers, some companies in China charge fees according to the admitted schools' US News rankings. In order to know which schools students have been accepted, these companies use their own address to send the application materials and receive the admission notice. Thus, the above method that can be easily used in other countries to distinguish agents and consultants may not be applicable in China.

III. How the service fee is paid

During the operation, the fundamental difference between the two is: Chinese government requests the agent's contract must ensure that students get admitted by a school and receive a visa application, otherwise it must refund all or part of the agent fee to the students, schools also have a rule only when a student pay the tuition and fees, they will pay the agent the commission fee. But if a consultant openly declares that the consulting firm will refund its fee if it can't get any acceptance for the student, the consulting firm improperly boast its ability, and the NACAC constitution clearly states that the NACAC member cannot do so. Otherwise, the consulting firm or consultant will be removed from NACAC; it's the same if a student is admitted by a school, the school will not give the consulting firm one penny. Because the former is a marriage matchmaker. He'll receive money when the marriage is done, he'll receive nothing when it fails; while the latter only represents the interests of students, and has no relationship to the school.

At present, China agents collect fees from both sides, i.e., the agent work on behalf of schools, but also the applicants. But in Japan, Korea and many other countries, it has long been one-way fee collection, that is, only the university pays agents, agents do not charge students. There was a lengthy report on the New York Times, which criticized harshly the China agency's charges because it does not meet the industry's ethic code in the United States.