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Questions to consider as you engage an Educational Consultant


Congratulations – you are embarking upon an extremely exciting and rewarding experience – attending university in the United States of America.


Your path is followed by an estimated 5,500 successful applicants from Australia each year, from undergraduate through to post-graduate. Given the significant differences between the Australian and American education systems deciding to engage the services of an educational consultant is a wise choice and will lead to best fit possible educational outcomes for you or your student children.

Below are a set of questions families should consider when looking to work with an Education Consultant, drawn from an article by colleague Pamela Ellis and the Independent Educational Consultant Association, (IECA), one of the professional associations representing independent educational consultants and including some guidance in italics.

Following each question is a response from Debbie Shively of Internationally Educated (IE).

1. Who within the organisation/consultancy will work with our family and what are their qualifications?


IE: Students and families will consistently work with our Founder, Debbie Shively, for the duration of the working relationship. Debbie has vast experience in international admissions and draws from her time as Assistant Director of Admissions at a US College recruiting international students. During this time she led admission review committees and read thousands of student applications for admission. She has worked in international education for nearly two decades between Australia and the US and has earned an undergraduate and master’s degree as well as a post-graduate certificate in US College Counseling. She has worked with both Australian and US universities in admissions, marketing, and operations as well as serving in a director role at a US study abroad centre for several years. Debbie’s experience and knowledge in the US admission field is unmatched in Australia.


2. Do you belong to any professional associations?

IE: Debbie is a member of the peak admission body for international admission, the International Association for College Admission Counseling (International ACAC). Our membership ensures we adhere to the Guide to Ethical Practice in College Admission. Debbie is also a member of the Career Advisors Association (Australia).

3. Do you guarantee admission to any universities or a certain minimum dollar value in scholarships? (Do NOT trust any offer of guarantees.)


IE: Absolutely not. Guarantees are not ethical nor legal.


4. Do you attend professional conferences or training workshops on a regular basis to keep up with regional and national trends?


IE: Debbie attends the annual International ACAC conference which is held at a different US university campus each year. This weeklong conference offers over 70 workshop sessions on international admissions, financial aid/scholarships, the student experience, and more. Following the conference, Debbie visits US college campuses. From Australia, Debbie regularly takes part in webinars with US universities and is on a daily US university professional forum focusing on admission and international education.

5. Do you ever accept any form of compensation from a school, program, or company in exchange for placement or a referral? (They absolutely should not!)


IE: No. We undertake an organic search to identify best fit universities for each student based on their specified criteria and academic merit.


6. Will you complete the application for admission, re-write my essays, or fill out the financial aid forms on my behalf? (No, they should NOT; it is essential that the student be in charge of the process and all materials should be a product of the student’s own, best work.)


IE: Students complete their own applications for admission. Our ongoing advising guides students in creating their best, most competitive applications for admission. We work closely with students to identify and articulate their Australian achievements (no more ‘tall poppy syndrome’) in a way in which US university admission teams will understand. When we work with students from earlier in their educations, we can also guide extra and co-curricular choices that will ensure the student can best display their strengths to candidate universities.


7. Will you use personal connections to get me in to one of my top choices? (The answer should be NO. A counselor doesn’t get you admitted—they help you to demonstrate why you deserve to be admitted.)


IE: No, never. It doesn’t work that way. The value of our extensive personal connections to school careers advisors and university admissions staff is that we know more about what is going on at each university and will know the faster path to answering potential questions. Once a shortlist of applying universities is identified, we work with students in preparing a strategy to tell their unique story through the various application components required for admission at each particular chosen university.


8. Are all fees involved stated in writing, up front, indicating exactly what services I will receive for those fees?

IE: Yes, our services are detailed in written and agreed proposals and supported by our Terms of Business (please ask for a copy).


9. Fit - How do you feel after meeting with this consultant? It is important to work with someone you feel confident in and trust as well as share a similar vision.

IE: We have successfully worked with a wide array of students and families and appreciate all students are different - as is their US university search. We look forward to working with you.


The US university application process is complex and lengthy, and we usually begin working with students in year 10. And with over 4,000 degree granting institutions from which to choose, identifying the best fit universities can be overwhelming. We reduce the stress and eliminate the confusion of applying to US universities while providing you with professional advice in crafting your most competitive US admission application.

Contact us today to enquire about engaging our services and beginning your US University experience with Internationally Educated.


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