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Consultancy or No Consultancy for my masters application? - Dilemma of an aspirant

Should you choose a consultancy or not for your Masters Application?

July 14, 2023

Daily we come across multiple students and many of them start with this question: Do we really need to invest and collaborate with a consultancy for our Masters Application?

The internet is filled with conflicting information, with some saying that consultancies are a sham and that the process is too standard to need outside help, while others achieve their dream universities with the help of consultancies.

On further investigation, we realized that the anxiety stems from the following factors:

  1. Consultancies don't care about whether you get admission or not after they have your money: Many consultancies are just out to make a profit and have led to students having terrible experiences. Students invest money only to feel cheated when they receive an ordinary application packet and no admission at the end of the process because no special effort was made once payment was received. Some students have even reported knowing that their statement of purpose was lacklustre or that nothing special was done during the application process, but it was too late to turn back.
  2. Large sum against a guarantee of admission: Some consultancies promise an admission guarantee and charge a large sum, only to end up placing students in private universities with weak programs, high acceptance rates, and high fees.
  3. Non-collaborative/Lack of control: Consultancies may want to handle the entire application process with little visibility on the part of the applicant. Students may not have input on their university selection or statement of purpose because consultancies take the stance that they are experts and should be trusted blindly.
  4. Privacy: Some students want to keep the fact that they used consultancy services private, but consultancies often use testimonials (without redacting personal information) for marketing purposes, which can be uncomfortable for some students

On the other hand, there are also valid arguments in favor of using consultancies:

  • Optimal university shortlisting: University trends change every year, and a university that was difficult to get into one year might have more seats available the next. Some universities that were considered "safe" options might be reducing their intake for certain programs. Additionally, many students are not self-aware about their chances at different universities, and they either underestimate or overestimate their profile, leading to disappointment or missed opportunities. Consultancies that are aware of current trends can help students select the most optimal universities for their profile.
  • Improved profile: Another argument in favor of consultancy services is that they can help improve a student's profile, resume, and statement of purpose to the point that their chances are significantly increased.
  • Convenience: The application process can be overwhelming, with tasks like writing a statement of purpose, creating a resume, building an application packet, and searching for scholarships. If a consultancy can help alleviate some of this workload, it can allow a student to focus on exams and important projects.

So, what is the truth? Should you use a consultancy or not?

The truth is nuanced, and ultimately the decision is a personal one that depends on your needs and circumstances.

Here are some things to consider:

  • Consultancy can be helpful: Consultancy services are used by governments and private corporations (like McKinsey and Bain) for a reason. Remember that "consultancy" in general can be helpful, while a particular consultancy service may or may not be.
  • There are no guarantees: No consultancy can guarantee you an admission at any public or legitimate university. If a consultancy claims to be able to do so, it's likely that you will end up disappointed.
  • Access to your application is important: If you are using a consultancy for convenience, make sure you have access to your application materials and can provide input and feedback on the process. If a consultancy asks you to completely outsource the application process and not worry about it, you may end up with a standard application and disappointment.
  • Convenience is not enough: A consultancy should do more than just handle the application process for you. It should also help you improve your profile and increase your chances of admission. If your college seniors who got into Stanford or your dream university were willing to mentor you, would you ask them just about the process of applying (which you can find out through a Google search), or would you ask them to help improve your profile so you have the best possible chance of admission?

The application process is costly and time-consuming, and it can be difficult to reapply and succeed. Make sure to do your research and choose a consultancy that aligns with your needs and goals. Consider factors like their reputation, their willingness to work collaboratively with you, and their focus on improving your profile and increasing your chances of admission.

In conclusion, whether or not to use a consultancy for your masters application is a personal decision that depends on your needs and circumstances. While consultancies can be helpful in optimizing your university shortlist, improving your profile, and providing convenience, it's important to do your research and choose a reputable consultancy that aligns with your goals and values. Remember, there are no guarantees in the application process, and it's important to be careful with your decisions.

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