Let’s face it. There are people out there who call themselves “admissions consultants” who are not trustworthy, competent, or experienced professionals. Selecting an AIGAC-member consultant means you will work with someone who has been vetted carefully for quality and integrity. AIGAC graduate admissions consultants are the most experienced, collaborative, well informed, and fully invested in ongoing professional development. By organizing and attending annual conferences that feature admissions professionals from many leading schools, AIGAC consultants stay on top of the latest trends in graduate admissions. By choosing an AIGAC member, you will benefit from an extensive network to learn the most effective methods to develop and present your authentic candidacy.
So how exactly do you go about finding the right admissions consultant for you? Here are seven steps that we recommend for all applicants:
1. IDENTIFY YOUR PRIORITIES
Spend time thinking about what you want and need in a consultant: Do you need help picking which graduate programs to apply to? Are you unsure about how to express yourself in your applications? Is there a particular weakness in your profile that you need help in overcoming?
Think about all of these issues and decide how important each one is to you. Also, ask prior applicants how their consultant helped them.
2. RESEARCH THE FIELD
First, gather information on prospective consultants. Many consultants have digital footprints via books, videos, blogs, and social media posts. What do they know best and care about most?
Second, you may want to check out their LinkedIn profiles. If a consultant claims expertise in a certain industry or close connections with particular a school, is there anything in their LinkedIn profile to support such claims?
Third, you may want to make use of introductory sessions to get to know the individual you might be working with. See who resonates with you.
Finally, be sure to evaluate different consulting models to find the one that best matches your needs and work style. Are you seeking an hourly, specialized, or comprehensive service? What is the scope of work for the consultant you are evaluating?
3. CHECK CONSULTANT RESULTS
Do you have a “dream” school or short list? See if a consultant has worked with applicants who have been admitted there. If they haven’t, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you can’t work successfully together. Keep in mind that most admissions results are “self-reported.”
Read reviews that past candidates have posted, paying particular attention to factors that matter most to you. Or, you might also consider using your LinkedIn network to see which of your trusted contacts might have worked with a particular consultant.
4. FIND YOUR FIT
Approach the process, as you would look for a doctor, attorney, or accountant. What kind of personality, demeanor, and communications style do you hope your consultant demonstrates in your interactions? Do you want direct, unfiltered feedback, or are you hoping for someone to ease you gently through the process?
5. ASK QUESTIONS
You’re about to begin a high-trust relationship with someone expected to help you with a major life goal. It is certainly appropriate – and encouraged – to ask questions. Don’t be shy! You can find some suggested questions here on our website http://aigac.org/for-applicants/how-to-find-a-graduate-admissions-consultant/questions-to-ask-a-consultant/
6. DOES DISTANCE MATTER?
Don’t rule out consultants at a geographical distance. With all the electronic communication tools available, the best consultant for you might be just around the corner or on the other side of the world. Some applicants prefer in-person consultations, while others enjoy not having to travel across town to meet when they could use the time to work on their applications.
7. BROWSE THE AIGAC MEMBER DIRECTORY
We encourage you to look through our member directory to identify a few professionals with whom you might want to set up an initial consultation. The AIGAC Member Directory lets you review the profiles of more than 150 qualified AIGAC member consultants. You can browse member profiles, search for specific qualifications, and contact consultants right from there.
The grad school application process is tough, but finding the right admissions consultant doesn’t need to be. Follow these seven steps, and you will be well on your way to finding an advisor who best meets your needs.