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Career counseling is no substitute for doing your own research

Learning about universities in other countries takes time and can be confusing, but you absolutely must do it, and not rely blindly on consultants
BY Sajili Oberoi |   09-12-2016
Woman sitting at table by the window in a library, working on a laptop and referring to notes
Image by Darien Library, used under CC license

Want to study abroad? You’re going to relate to this now more than ever.

I started out working with a PR agency a year ago, with the intention of pursuing a Master’s degree a year or two later. I wasn’t sure about my study destination or the course, but I was sure of one thing – I wasn’t going to pursue further studies in India. I’ve wanted to go abroad to study ever since I finished my undergraduate degree.

The last few months have been strenuous, as I have been extensively researching different universities and countries. I work full-time, so juggling between researching universities and courses, attending education fairs, and meeting education consultants has been mindboggling, to say the least.

Besides, you get completely different information from the different people you consult, so you still end up with a lack of clarity. You’d think the more people you speak to, the more thorough your research will be. But after all this, I’m beginning to think this also comes with a lot of confusion. You never know which source of information is the most credible, or whether you should trust the consultants working with a reputed organization or what you see on numerous study-abroad websites.

When I started looking to study abroad, I was confident that the internet would be sufficient, and that everything I needed would be online. I discovered that there’s so much online that you don’t know where to look. Next thing you know, you’re all over the place, with no direction. It’s when this realization dawned on me that I decided to visit a counselor, despite my reluctance to do so. It’s helpful in the sense that I have more clarity on my next steps as far as applications are concerned.

However, while I’ve been lucky with the counselor I’m currently consulting, I have to say, certain instances proved that not all such counselling offices are reliable or credible. When I first decided go to a counselling office, I met counselors for US, Canada, Ireland, Europe and Australia. At that time, I was most inclined towards going to Ireland, and when I spoke to one of the counselors from the agency, she said I’d have to take the GMAT, since I did not have a business studies background. Not entirely convinced, I went for a second opinion in the same institution, and learned that the GMAT is required only for scholarship purposes.

See the confusion here? I was lucky that I had some research up my sleeve, I didn’t blindly trust the first person I met, and sought a second opinion. But considering the sheer number of students who go abroad to study, I’m sure a huge fraction of them depends entirely on consultants.

If you’re interested in studying abroad, take the help of education consultants and counselors, since it is important to have that kind of guidance, but make sure you know the reliable ones from the unreliable ones. Also, never neglect doing your own research. Often, it’s more useful than what any consultant will be able to tell you, since you know what you want best.

 
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