An international student advisor is dedicated to making your transition and continued presence abroad an enjoyable and comfortable experience. While you do have the option of using the international student advising services of the schools you are looking to attend abroad, in this article, we will discuss why looking for help off-campus might be a better choice for you. But how do you know how to choose the right college admissions counseling for international students? Read on to learn more!
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What Do All International Student Advisors Typically Do?
Most commonly, an international student advisor service will help you with the following:
Why You Should Look for an International Student Advisor off Campus
The benefits of an international student advisor we list above are indisputable. The paperwork, the advice, and the orientations will be a great help in your journey. However, an on-campus advisor can only do so much. Remember that they have hundreds of new students to take care of every year, plus any of the students that arrived in the previous years, who need help with visa extensions, work permits, and so on. While they may work very hard to tend to all international students on campus, it's simply not possible.
Plus, on-campus international school advisors are kind of limited in how they can help you. For example, they are unlikely to help you with your academic work. Most of them are there to help with the administrative aspects of your arrival and presence on campus, but not with anything to do with your academic success.
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Does this mean that you are left to your own devices to succeed in a new and totally foreign educational system? As it turns out, there is another option. Off-campus international school advisors can help you with more than the paperwork and counseling. In addition to helping you with everything we listed above, they can also help you succeed as a student and a professional during your time abroad.
So why should you consider an off-campus advisor? Let’s find out.
Help with the applications and transition is undeniably valuable, but there is more to studying abroad. Not only do you want to become eligible to study in your country of choice, but you must also choose and apply to the right schools and programs for your future. No amount of counseling and orientations will make you happy in a school and program you hate.
Most campus international student advisors cannot help you with this, not because they do not care, but because they simply do not have time to review your academic background and advise you regarding the right academic fit for you. Since they work for the school, it’s also in their interest to make sure you attend their campus, whether you are actually a good fit or not.
But an off-campus advisor can dedicate as much time as you need to find the suitable institutions and programs you will enjoy and where you will succeed. Based on your academic background, interests, and strengths, as well as the discipline you want to pursue, they can help you apply to the best possible programs for you. For example, if you are looking to pursue engineering in some of the best schools in Canada or the US, an off-campus advisor will make sure you meet the requirements. If you do not, they can help you boost your application by advising an impressive summer program for high school students that will look great on your high school resume. Otherwise, they may advise IB or AP classes you can take to become a more competitive candidate.
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Not only can they help you plan where to apply, but they will also help you with every single application component. They are experts in the admissions process, so they will know what kind of Common App essay succeeds, what kind of supplemental application essays stand out, and what kind of extracurriculars you can include in your Common App Activities Section.
Furthermore, they can help you plan your future. For example, if you have your sights on a graduate program, they will help you plan your coursework and extracurriculars that will get you into your chosen schools. Or if you want to become a doctor, they will advise which medical school prerequisites to take or what kind of extracurriculars for medical school you need to increase your chances of acceptance. When the time comes, they will help you choose and apply to medical schools that accept international students, if by that time your status does not change.
Essentially, off-campus international school advisors make sure that your time as an international student is productive, fruitful, and successful, by giving you undivided attention in terms of both, the academic and non-academic transitions.
You Are a Priority
As we already mentioned, campus international school advisors have their hands full. Depending on the size of the school, they work with hundreds, if not thousands of students every year. They simply cannot give you undivided attention. This means that you may need to wait weeks to get an appointment or for your inquiries to get answered via email.
A huge advantage of an off-campus advisor is that you have their total attention. In other words, you are their priority. They will answer your emails, messages, or phone calls without much delay and help you with anything you need, whether it’s your visa application or a term paper you need help with. That’s right, an off-campus advisor is there to help you with more than just getting into your chosen programs, they are there for you every step of the way.
Continued Academic Support
Being a student abroad is not easy. You are required to succeed academically despite your possible lack of the English language or familiarity with the new education system. The courses you take and the assignments you need to complete can be overwhelming. There are especially challenging periods, such as midterms or finals. Additionally, it's not uncommon for professors from different classes to assign similar deadlines for essays and assignments. At times like these, students look for academic support.
An off-campus advisor can help you plan your study schedule and help you prepare your projects. For example, they can help you brainstorm ideas for your essays, proofread and give advice on how to structure and write, and help you find the resources that will make your projects stand out. If you have a presentation or a speech coming up, they can help you practice your public speaking skills and provide some guidance on how to improve your communication. Essentially, they can help you with any academic endeavor ahead of you.
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Higher Caliber of Experts
Campus international student advisors come from all kinds of academic fields, including liberal arts, business administration, social sciences, and so on. They typically graduate with a Bachelor's degree and possess very strong interpersonal skills. But these qualifications may not be enough for many international students.
Off-campus international student advisors are typically more diverse in academic backgrounds and possess higher qualifications, such as Master’s, PhDs, MD or DO degrees, and so on. Essentially, they are more experienced and qualified to advise on academic matters, such as admissions, courses, extracurriculars, and so on. This is especially valuable if you plan to continue your education on a graduate level.
Off-campus advisors have been there. They were successful in applying to and attending law school, medical school, graduate school, and so on. Not only have they personally gone through the process, but they have helped hundreds of students write their law school personal statements, MBA personal statements, MBA resume, medical school secondary essays, and so on. They have vast experience.
On-campus advisors may not know the ins and outs of all these application processes, since they rarely help with these types of admissions. For example, premed advisors on campus have never personally gone through the medical school admissions process. They do not know what you are going through and therefore can only give you theoretical advice. But a proper off-campus international student service will have experts who have personally gone through the admission process, whether it’s law school, grad school, medical school, and so on, and have helped hundreds of others succeed. Therefore, they can help you with whatever career path you choose, since these advisors have abundant experience in law school admissions consulting, MBA admissions consulting, medical school admissions consulting, and more.
The biggest benefit of an advisor is not only the fact that you will find the right school, or that you will ace your courses. The personalized feedback off-campus advisors give you will also help you grow as a student and a professional. Remember, their attention is totally on you, so they can address any of your weaknesses that prevent you from being the best student. For example, if you struggle with writing, they will teach you the best strategies for brainstorming, organizing, structuring, and writing essays, research reports, or theses. These kinds of skills will remain with you for the rest of your professional career.
Investment in Your Future
While you may think that on-campus advisors are “free”, the truth is that they are not. Remember those immense tuition fees you pay as an international student? The salary of the international student advisor is part of your tuition. You personally pay the international student advisor via the fees you pay to the school. And they are not small! Typically, you cannot opt out of such services, so you are left with paying their fees whether you decide to use their help or not.
On the other hand, if you hire an off-campus advisor, you will need to pay out of your pocket. But consider the actual investment you are making. You are paying not only for help with visa applications, but you are investing in your future as a student abroad. Remember what we said already – the off-campus advisor will be there with you every step of the way. They will teach you how to navigate the new educational system, help you plan your journey through college, and aid you in succeeding as a student. Rather than simply helping you with the administrative aspects of the application process, they will help you develop communication skills, critical thinking skills, organizational skills, time management skills, and more.
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How to Find the Right International Student Advisor
As with any service, you must make sure that the off-campus international student advisor you hire is the right fit for you. Here’s how to do your due diligence and find the perfect advisor:
Check out Their Reputation and Success Rate
No doubt, there are hundreds of services you can hire, but not every one of them will provide quality help. Your first step should be looking at international student advisors online to check out their reviews and reputation. The reviews your find online can help you learn what kind of help is provided, so you can see whether it fits with your learning style and expectations. If possible, try to check out independent, third-party review platforms such as Trustpilot. These kinds of platforms tend to only include objective reviews from students who actually used the service.
Reach out for a Free Consultation
A good international student advisor service will be confident in their ability to help you. So, try researching if any of the services you find offer a free consultation. These initial calls are beneficial for two main reasons:
Look for Guarantees
Research international student advisors who make guarantees. Firstly, this shows that they are confident in their ability to help a variety of students. Secondly, this means that they make promises that, if broken, can still be of some benefit to you, such as a refund or a free second attempt at admissions.
Just to be clear, not everyone needs an off-campus international student advisor. Some students are better equipped to navigate the maze of visa and study permit applications, and at adapting to a new culture and educational system. But many, many students can really benefit from the extra help. And remember that getting help simply means you want to give this opportunity your best shot. An international student advisor can truly boost your chances of acceptance! Not only will they help you get in, but they will ensure that you enjoy and succeed in your studies.
1. What is an international student advisor?
An international student advisor is there to help you become a student abroad. They are typically there to guide you through the work permit application process and visa application process.
2. How does an international student advisor help?
An on-campus advisor can advise you on which international student application forms to fill out, proofread your work, and make sure there are no errors. They also help you with student housing, work permits, and other administrative aspects of the transition.
3. Should I use an on-campus advisor or an off-campus advisor?
An off-campus advisor provides all the same help, but also helps with your academic planning and work. They can also help you plan your future by advising on the kind of coursework you should take and what kind of activities to participate in.
4. What’s the best way to find an advisor?
The best way to find an off-campus advisor is by researching services online to see their reviews and reputation. You should also try to schedule a free initial call to discuss how they can help you.
5. What kind of support can I expect after I get accepted?
If we are talking about on-campus advisors, then the help you will receive once you land is limited. They typically work with hundreds and thousands of students, so they cannot really pay much attention to you. However, an off-campus advisor can help you plan your courses, your study schedule, your assignments, and essays, and even devise the best strategies for you to ace your exams. Essentially, they are there to help you academically.
6. Does every school have an international student advisor?
Most colleges will have on-campus international student advisors. Depending on the size of the school, there is usually 1 advisor working with hundreds of students, so they are typically stretched for time.
7. Are off-campus advisors more available?
Typically, yes. Off-campus advisors usually work with fewer students and provide one-on-one consultations. This way, they dedicate all of their attention to you and provide you with personalized feedback.
8. But on-campus advisors are free, so why would I pay extra for off-campus advisors?
Firstly, on-campus advisors are not free. Their fees are already included in your tuition. By paying extra for off-campus advisors, you guarantee that you will get one-on-one help any time you need it and that you will receive any necessary help. Consider this as an investment in yourself and your future.
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