Great question. Whether you need help or not depends on you and where you’re going.
If you know where you want to go, have the English language skills, required grades and funding, and are certain you can get a visa you probably don’t need help. Just apply directly to your university of choice following their application system.
If that’s not the case, getting help can make things a lot easier and save a lot of time.
The right advisor can help you determine the following:
• Which country or countries to consider
• Which universities to consider
• Which programmes to consider
• What costs you can expect
• How to improve your personal statement
• How to determine alternatives if your grades don’t qualify you for your school of choice
• Which scholarships you might qualify for
• What you’ll need to get a visa
• Work/study options
• Where you’ll live and what to expect
Many students do navigate what’s required to study abroad on their own. But in many countries, the majority seek the advice of a counsellor, advisor or agent. Their insight can help determine the best options and accelerate the bureaucratic processes international students face.
Experienced professionals will often have helped students like you to study in the same country and institution you prefer. They may have a relationship with that institution. They might be able to speed up an application or get more detailed feedback on its progress. They should have a detailed understanding of what a particular institution can offer. A part of their job is attending university information sessions and getting direct feedback from other students they have helped. In some cases they will have visited the campuses you’re considering and are familiar with where you’ll live.
If you decide to get help, do some initial research on your own. Look at what different countries, institutions and programmes have to offer. Identify what options interest you and list why. This can help you narrow down your options and it will help a counsellor understand what’s important to you.
A good counsellor/agent will listen to your aspirations and requirements and create a shortlist of suitable options for you to consider. Once you’re ready to apply, the counsellor will help you put together the required documents and guide you through the application process. Counsellors will also be able to advise on flights, accommodation, insurance, phone plans and other services you’ll need. They’ll be a short call or online session away if you face any difficulties once overseas – their support shouldn’t end as soon as you leave your home country.
Many counsellors/agents have passed courses created by reputable organisations such as the British Council in the UK and PIER/AEI in Australia. It’s worth checking that the person you’re relying on has a relevant qualification.
In most cases counsellors/agents won’t be to submit a visa application on your behalf but they should be able to give advice on what you’ll need to provide to ensure a successful application.
Many counsellors offer advising services free-of-charge but there may be charges for additional services beyond help with applications. Always make sure you understand what services will incur costs and which ones won’t.
Finally, make sure you choose a counsellor who inspires trust and whom you feel has your best interests at heart. Meet a few and go with the person you feel is best for you.
I hope this article has helped you if you’re considering getting help. All the best in your journey to study abroad.