Can Overseas Study Counselling/Consultants Help You Get Into Universities Abroad? |
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Posted on 16 Nov '22

Can Overseas Study Counselling/Consultants Help You Get Into Universities Abroad?

Completing a successful application to a university abroad is by no means a one-step process. It can take months to get through. With so much on your mind already, and the added pressures of rebuilding your life far away from home, you might be inclined to take the help of professionals. Professionals who are equipped with connections at major universities, knowledge on how to create the best possible research proposal and the know-how to see you through to the very end.

Study abroad counsellors (sometimes called consultants) often advertise themselves as, and are widely considered to be, a one-stop solution for all your study-abroad-application woes. However, like with everything else, it is advisable to dive-in with a little bit of caution.

What is the right kind of counsellor / consultant for me?

Consider study abroad counselling to be a kind of service. This means that there are too many to choose from. Primarily there are two kinds of counselling services available:

  • Traditional study abroad counsellors (or free counsellors)
  • Independent admission officers (or paid counsellors)

The kind of counselling service you opt for depends heavily on your study abroad goals. Both types of counselling services have a lot going in their favour and equally as much you would want to think twice about. We give you the good and the bad of study abroad counselling so you can make the best decision possible.

Should I use a free counsellor / consultant?


  • As the name suggests, free counsellors do not charge any fee. Some do charge a minimal token fee which you should check for with your counselling service.
  • A good free counselling service has a strong portfolio of partner universities which means there are higher chances of admission. Some also ‘guarantee’ your admission. However, you should know this will hold only if the university is one your counselling service has a partnership with.
  • They provide help and support at every step of the process, including visas, funding and scholarships and pre-departure preparation.
  • Since traditional (or free) study abroad counsellors partner with universities, you are likely to get an application fee waiver which means you can make a greater number of applications.


  • It can be said that free study abroad counselling may be biased because of the business-mode that it follows. Instead of charging students a fee, counsellors / consultants earn a commission every time a student accepts admission into a partner university. It is, therefore, advisable to have a good look at their university portfolio before signing on with them.
  • Sometimes counselling services are limited to providing support for applications to universities in only one country. This limits your options a lot, especially if you are looking to apply to multiple different places.
  • You might find that top universities, the best-of-the-best, the Ivy Leagues, are usually missing from the list of partner universities of free counsellors. Some free counselling services also offer admission help for these universities, however, at a fee.

Should I use a paid counsellor / consultant?


  • Also called independent admission officers, they are usually alumni from some of the top universities in the world and can provide advice from the perspective of someone who has gone through the same rigorous process.
  • They often cater specifically to students who wish to gain admission into some of the top universities in the world (including Ivy League) and provide tailored help with applications and interviews.


  • They provide little to no help outside of the application process. They can, sometimes, help with scholarship applications but it is best to check with your counsellor to see what services they can provide. Paid counsellors almost never provide help with other aspects of your applications like visas.
  • They tend to charge a high fee since they do not work on a commission-based business model.
  • Since counselling, at the end of the day, is a business; it is advertised in a way that attracts the most customers. With every one of them claiming to be the best, it is difficult to check credibility and choose in whom to put your trust and your money.

It is clearly not an either / or decision since both kinds of study abroad counsellors cater to different student goals. For more guided advice, you may want to consider a paid counsellor, if your budget allows. This is not to say that a traditional (or free) study abroad counsellor with a good list of partner universities cannot help you fulfil your dreams. Or, you can also opt to not take the counselling route at all. Whichever route you decide to take, make sure you thoroughly research the counsellor beforehand and have a clear goal in mind that you want them to help you achieve.

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Last Updated: 16 November 2022