Parent’s Feedback on Working with Professional Counselors for Kids’ College Admissions in Canada & USA

For any Indian parent, one of their key priorities is always to ensure a good-quality education for their kids. They always tend to go out of their ways by hiring the best tutors and counselors to place their kids at the best schools, coaching classes, and colleges. At times, parents don’t even think twice about staying far away from their kids for a few years so that their children attend top colleges abroad and get prepared for the competitive job market of the 21st century.

Personalized Career & College Admissions Counselling

When it comes to getting into top foreign universities, working with college admission counselors is slowly becoming a popular concept among ambitious Indian parents. The majority of parents (and students) are often at a loss to managing multiple steps required to get (legitimately) admitted to the top colleges of their choice.

At present, there are quite a few independent college admission consultants and boutique career & college admission counseling firms. However, not all firms have got the credibility and/or success rate at an affordable rate.

A good majority of top schools have also got their in-house counselors. But, a school counselor always has a bandwidth constraint and personalized guidance becomes a challenge.

At Stoodnt, we started with a concept of having destination-based independent counselors (primarily Counselors based in the US) who can provide personalized and expert guidance at a reasonable cost with a lot of flexibility in the scope of work.

Is Hiring College Admission Consultants Worth it?

We have earlier covered if hiring a college admissions counselor worth it.

Below are the key things that you need to keep in mind as a parent to decide if you need to work with an independent college admission counselor:

  • Do I have the time to work with my kid through the whole process?
  • Do I possess the first-hand experience of going to a top college abroad?
  • Have I helped anyone else (colleague or relative’s kid) with their college application process?
  • Do I know what differentiates my kid (from thousands of other highly talented kids) and how to help my kid to articulate that?
  • Can I help my mids how to put across weaknesses (average GPA or lack of extracurricular activities) in the essays?
  • Can I help my kid to decide what stories to highlight and where?

How to Choose the Right College Admissions Consulting Firm/Platform?

Here are the top questions to assess a college admission consulting team:

  • Do they have a great success record?
  • Does the website provide genuine reviews/feedback with any kind of validation?
  • Who (which counselor) is going to work on the applications?
  • Is there flexibility with scope of work and pricing?
  • How long have they been doing this?
  • Do they have a certain process and work with ethics?

For the last 5 years, we have worked with hundreds of families across India, Middle-East, Europe, Africa & USA on their kids’ college admission processes. Stoodnt counselors have been in the process of college admission counseling for 10+ years.

Naresh Karani’s Kids’ College Admission Journey

Naresh Karani‘s family is one of those very rare (and special) families, for whom Stoodnt became a Family Counselling Firm (like Family Physician or Lawyer).

Their elder son, Yash, is currently studying in Canada. Their daughter Shriya is going to start at Northeastern University in the US this year (2020).

Profile of Yash Karani

College Admissions in Canada after 12th
  • IB Board, GEMS Modern Academy, Dubai, UAE
  • Score: 33/45
  • SAT Score: 1290
  • LinkedIn Profile

Lead Counselor: Marlis Paffenroth

Received offers from: 

  • University of Washington, Seattle | Program: Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration, Pre-Business
  • College of Liberal Arts, University of Texas at Austin | Program: Bachelor of Science, Economics
  • Kelley School of Business, Indiana University, Bloomington | Program: BSc, Management and Marketing
  • School of Business, George Washington University | Program: BSc, Marketing (could choose co-major too)
  • Rotman Commerce, University of Toronto | Program: BCom Specialization in Management
  • University of Western Ontario | Program: Bachelor of Management and Organizational Studies + Ivey Business School (2+2)
  • Sauder School of Business, University of British Columbia | Program: Bachelor of Commerce – (choose your specialization once accepted)  

Profile of Shriya Karani

College Admissions in USA after 12th
  • IB, GEMS Modern Academy, Dubai, UAE (July 2020)
  • Score: 40/45
  • SAT Score: 1450
  • LinkedIn Profile

Lead Counselor: Debbie Abrahamson

Received offers from: 

1. Program – Business Administration with a concentration in marketing | Indiana University Bloomington, Kelley School of Business – Global Engagement Scholarship ($11,000/year) (4-year undergraduate)    

2. Drexel University, LeBow College of Business – Dean’s Scholarship ($23,400/year) – (4 year Co-op)

3. Program – Business Administration and Psychology (5-year Co-op) Northeastern University, D’amore Mckim School of Business and College of Science    

4. Program- Economics, Psychology, and Philosophy (3-year undergraduate) Warwick University, Warwick, UK

Feedback on College Admission Counselling Process

By Naresh Karani

Tanmoy: What made you convinced to sign up with Stoodnt for the first time (for Yash)? 

Parent's Feedback on College Admission Counselling Services for US & Canada

Naresh: I was referred to Stoodnt by my ex-colleague who also personally introduced me to the founders of Stoodnt – Ajay and Yuri – on their visit to Dubai.

They asked about my expectations in an application process. I did the same and narrowed down our requirements to the specific requirements of guidance on essays for US universities.

The candid and flexible approach by Stoodnt’s founders led me to sign them up, first for my son (Yash), and subsequently for my daughter (Shriya) two years later.

Tanmoy: How was your overall experience of working with Stoodnt (Yash and Shriya’s admissions)?

Naresh: Both our children enjoyed working with their respective counsellors. After our first experience with Yash, we recommended Stoodnt to my brother-in-law (wife’s brother) whose son was going to pursue Engineering in an American University.

Their experience with the Stoodnt counselor was very good too. Hence, we decided to sign up for the same counseling firm for our daughter – Shriya – as the decision was endorsed by another family member too.

Tanmoy: Yash had multiple offers from the US and Canada from Canada. What was your thought process behind opting for Canada and the University of Toronto?

Naresh: Believe it or not, that decision was largely because of Donald Trump.

Yash started his freshman year in 2018. Trump was two years into his presidency and we were very concerned if education in the United States would result in our children getting an opportunity for some work experience before they pursue post-graduate studies.

There were lots of discussions amongst parents in Dubai about undergraduate students from American universities returning after their undergraduate degree without any job opportunities during the OPT (Optional Practical Training) period. Given that our son was pursuing a non-STEM degree, we were more concerned.

At the same time, a large number of student-intake in Canada following a drop in that of the USA became a trend. In addition, the University of Toronto was ranked in the Top 20 Global Universities in US News publication. Finally, an opportunity for a work permit in Canada seemed brighter. Hence, it made sense to choose Canada at that time.

Tanmoy: What’s your feedback on Marlis and Debbie as the Counselors?

What’s the advantage of working with US-based Counselors in comparison with local Counselors?

Naresh: Both our kids were very happy with the guidance provided by their respective counselors. The counselors helped in developing their ability to think and skills to write effective essays that could reflect each one’s personality.

We were clearly happier to use professional counselors based in the US rather than hiring local counselors in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, as we believe that we were getting better value for our money spent.

In addition, our thought was that the counselors in the United States who are present on the ground for college admissions in the USA would have a better perspective of the changing trends rather than the ones that are locally based in Dubai (or India).

Overall, it’s a good value for money, given that both my kids managed to get multiple acceptances in the US universities.

Tanmoy: Would you like to share any tips/advice with other parents who are thinking of sending their kids to US/Canada for undergrad education? 

Naresh: I think parents and their kids ought to clear about their objectives – is it just an undergraduate degree they are looking for? Or it has to be coupled with work experience? If it does, I would suggest parents consider Co-op Programs in the US as a better alternative so that, given the challenges of work experience extended to Non-US students, at least they stand a better chance of getting some experience.

If the intention is to seek job opportunities and long-term residency, then Canada is enjoying the upper hand over the USA at the moment, given the strict work-permit rules that have been introduced under the Trump administration.

I would not count on things getting too easier even if Biden wins the election and Democrats come to power, as the era of globalization has shifted to protectionism and each country is working to protect jobs for their own citizens.

Tanmoy: Both of your kids are studying abroad now. How does that feel as a parent given that they are away from you?

Naresh: As an ambitious father who reaped the benefits of post-graduate education in the United Kingdom, and the knowledge of the culture and behaviour of the international students of more than 30 countries that studied with me greatly helped me whilst working in the corporate world and pursuing a successful multinational career in private banking.

I was clear that our kids ought to be equipped with quality education, ideally an undergraduate and a postgraduate degree from both sides of the Atlantic, in order to be well-prepared to compete in the corporate world.

Hence, the sacrifice of being away from the kids for these few years whilst they are preparing for the future would most likely be worth it.

These were the thoughts and feedback by Naresh.

Read Yash and Shriya’s college application journeys and their personal experiences with professional college admission consultants

Stoodnt provides professional College Admissions Counselling services. Hire us to improve your kid’s chances of getting into the top international universities.

Got any quick queries? Post in the Comments section below! Need a 1:1 Consultation? Book a personalized counseling session with one of our Global Counselors.


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