Educational agencies are great ways to learn more about studying in other countries around the world. They can be a huge help, but students and parents should be wary not to be taken advantage of through working with these companies.
So what are educational agencies?
These are business around the world that help with recruiting international students and placing them into schools abroad. These businesses can assist students with anything from the school search process, admissions processes for specific schools, test preparation and test scheduling, visa interview preparation, and support services while students are in school. Educational agencies have been spread around the world for decades, and there are many benefits to using these experts. Along with that, there are also some cautionary tips that I will share in this blog.
Overall, educational agencies can provide a substantial benefit to both students and educational institutions. While they were stigmatized in past years, they are now widely accepted across the USA as an excellent resource when relationship standards are upheld with all parties. Basically, when they truly help students through the process, they are a big help!
Educational agencies act as a connection between schools who are based in the USA and students around the world who are interested in enrolling in these schools. Many international educators travel around the world to meet with educational agencies, attend student fairs, and visit schools where they have populations of students likely to be interested in studying abroad. These are great ways to make the connection with students!
Check out AIRC’s approved list of agencies. The American International Recruitment Council (AIRC) was formed in 2008 by senior education professionals from the USA. This nonprofit organization is the only educational organization focused solely on keeping high standards of ethics for international student recruitment and also is the only provider of independent certification for agencies to ensure they are upholding a high standard. Basically they know what they're doing.
In addition to AIRC, ICEF is another large organization that works to connect educators, agencies, and students. They do have standards for all parties involved, and they are a huge global network for spreading education and best practices around the world. Once you decide to use an agency, make sure it’s a reputable one. So what are the benefits of educational agencies?
Benefits of working with educational agencies:
Wide knowledge base of schools in the USA and around the world
Understand and can explain education systems and terms
Typically offer translation services from native language to English or vice versa
Can negotiate special scholarships with schools in the USA only available through them
Can assist with student support even after enrollment (they sometimes have regional representatives or regular communication with students to check in throughout the school year)
Understand the fastest way to get information and answers to your questions
Cautions of working with educational agencies:
Tons of pseudo agencies exist that are not quality service providers – make sure it’s a legitimate business operation
Watch for scams in which they overcharge or take advantage of your lack of knowledge
Watch for scams in which they promise:
To get students into top 50 or top 100 universities
To get students full scholarships to specific universities
To guarantee admissions – although there are a few agencies that are coming up with innovative ways to try and do this!
Tips for working with educational agencies:
Research the agency before signing a contract – try to get a recommendation from another family.
Price check the services against several other agencies – be careful here, because some quality agencies charge more because they are truly offering a huge range of services, so the least expensive is definitely not always the best option
Make sure you are getting all of the services you are looking for – some families want test preparation included or help with the student visa process and practice interviews leading up to the embassy visit; you should be able to find an agency that offers all of the service you request
Look for agencies who are AIRC certified or at least attend events like ICEF each year
That’s a lot of information about educational agencies. I hope this is helpful for any families who are considering studying the USA. International educators will have varied opinions on best practices and how to work with educational agencies, but I think in general, we all understand the benefits they can provide. Remember to do your research and make sure you are not being overcharged, but you are still getting everything you need from an educational agent.
Part of the reason I developed The Ultimate International Student Guide is so that families feel confident in taking on the process themselves once they watch all six of the webinars in Part I. Check it out for more details about what the webinars offer!
Tune in next week for a bit of inspiration about the admissions process and the blog about my trip to China!