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Working with Agents and Independent Counselors

Many individuals and organizations offer students guidance on researching and applying to universities in another country. Below are FAQs about helping students interested in utilizing third party agents or independent consultants. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Q:  What is an agent?
A: A company (agency) or individual (agent) contracted and paid by universities in other countries to advise and recruit students to their institutions.

Usually, the agency/agent is paid by its partner university only if and after a student enrolls and begins taking classes. This payment is often a percentage of a student's tuition fees, or a flat rate, and is called a commission. Agents are most likely to recommend the universities they represent, but may also be able to help students apply to universities that are not their partners.

Q: How do you acknowledge agents in the process, while still protecting student’s interests? What are a counselor’s responsibilities when working with agents and independent counselors from the student’s home country?
A:  Schools should have a written policy that is published and communicated to parents about the use of commission-basesd agents and independent counselors in the college counseling process.

Q: How do you encourage balanced use of the school-based counselor and the agent?
A:  This article highlights the experiences of NACAC member Peter Morgan (The Northwest School, WA) as he navigates how best to work with students and families who employ outside agents. 

Q: If a parent or student insists on using an agent, how can you advise or assist them in picking an ethical one? 
A:  NACAC's Trusted Sources: Seeking  Advice on Applying to Universities in Another Country provides advice on identifying reputable agents who follow high-quality practices.

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Relevant Resources

Guide to International University Admission

A comprehensive resource for counselors and students about undergraduate college options abroad.

Trusted Sources

An overview of the many advisors who can help you through the college admission process

International Student Recruitment Agencies

Learn about concrete steps schools colleges, and universities can take to engage with agencies responsibly.