How To Get Into Top Universities at an Affordable Budget

How to Improve Your Admission Chances at Top Universities at an Affordable Budget

Written by Tanmoy Ray

Tanmoy Ray is a Career Adviser & MS Admissions Consultant and Business Head at Stoodnt, Inc. He did his Masters from Aston University (UK). Later, he worked with the University of Oxford (UK), Utrecht University (Netherlands), and the University of New South Wales (Australia).

Last updated Aug 24, 2021

If you are targeting the top universities (the most selective ones have acceptance rates in the range of 5 – 15%), working with an admission consultant is definitely advantageous. However, those services do come with a big price. In this post, we will discuss how to get into top universities without creating a big hole in the pocket.

Before that, we will have a quick look at why you need an independent admission consultant to improve your admission chances.

Why do you need an independent admission consultant?

Not all that long ago there were very few people in the admission consulting (for UG, MS, MBA college admissions) business. Now there are thousands. The admission has been transformed at some of the highly selective universities (especially those with low acceptance rates). 

Each year applications increase at virtually all highly ranked schools. Some have nearly doubled application numbers in the last decade. So, working with admission consultants can certainly work in your favour. This is why your chances of getting into college are much higher.

Of course, you can work on your applications, and I recommend doing that – research on the internet, and check out various (but credible) education and study abroad portals. But, working with an independent admission consultant can certainly improve your chances of getting into college.

Common Roadblocks Faced To Get Into Top Universities

The entire study-abroad (researching universities/courses, application, loan, visa, accommodation, etc.) is a pretty long one. It can be daunting and may be overwhelming for anyone.

Some students plan their college/university research and submit applications themselves. Some get in contact with the teachers or counsellors available at their school/college, and some students prefer to get their parents (or friends and relatives) involved in the research process. 

If you want to learn how to get into top universities, you must overcome some of these common roadblocks.

Roadblock#1 – Gathering Information

I’m not saying the available information is less; it’s not. The problem arises with the time and effort required to gather this information. Students have their minds confused about finding and dealing with all the information (details). 

School counsellors or overseas education consultants most likely don’t get too involved with one student as they have many others. Lastly, more often than not, parents find it very difficult to find time to do all of this. 

It’s indeed a real hassle and may hamper your chances of getting into college!

Admission consultants have been doing this for years to help improve students’ admission chances. They give you insights from the admission committee’s perspectives. Additionally, a majority of independent consultants have studied and worked in foreign countries. So, you can also gain insights about jobs post-graduation in a foreign country.

Roadblock#2 – Application Process

Another major roadblock is the application process itself. You must know how to get into top universities by submitting online or offline application forms.

The process of university application and many other technicalities related to it can be challenging and no matter how good you are there is always something that’s missing. 

For top universities, writing multiple essays, personalized recommendation letters, and video-CV are the norm. Application essays are not like “Cow is My Favorite Animal” that we used to write in school and can’t be proofread by parents or relatives. You need specialists. 

Given the increasing competition for seats at top universities, independent admission consultants can be really helpful and may help you increase your chances of getting into college

Hence, to improve the chances of getting into top universities and appearing more presentable, students choose to work with independent admission consultants or independent counsellors. While working with overseas education counsellors is also helpful, the process might not always lead to admission to your dream university.

Working with Independent Admission Consultants

Working with an admission consultant or counsellor can help you navigate through the whole process in a shorter time. Additionally, working with a consultant also improves your admission chances at highly selective universities (e.g. Ivy League, Oxbridge, etc.). Additionally, they might also help you to secure some scholarships; I mean the generous ones like 25 – 75% scholarships (not those 10% early-bird tuition fee scholarships).

Independent Admission Counselling Services are Expensive

Independent admission counselling services, in most cases, turn out to be of great help for students. However, we can’t ignore the fact that they are expensive for students. 

For example, end-to-end guidance for undergraduate or MBA applications can cost families anything between INR 50,000 and 5 Lacs. In the MS vertical, top admission consultants can bill you INR 30,000 – 50,000 for end-to-end guidance.

Now, this amount might not be affordable for everyone. Also, not every student needs an end-to-end package. 

To solve this very problem and help more students get the counselling they need, Stoodnt launched a wide range of Bite-Size Counselling Services. 

How to get into top universities? Are there more ways? Let’s find out!

What are Bite-Size Counselling Services?

Bite-size counselling services are the customized services that deal with specific components of the application cycle. They focus on specific needs and are pocket-friendly. 

Here are a few Bite-Size Counselling Services that Stoodnt offers:

  • 1-on-1 Counselling Session (30/60 minutes)
  • Personalized University Shortlisting
  • University List Review
  • CV Review
  • SoP / Essay Review
  • Application Review (One-University)

Let’s dig in deeper into the 1-on-1 Counselling Sessions:

How does Stoodnt’s 1-on-1 Online Counselling Session work?

Convenience and credibility are always appreciated that’s where Stoodnt’s One-on-One Online Counselling Sessions comes in.

The Stoodnt’s counselling page allows you to view the profiles of counsellors and quick details about them like their background, education & work history. You can sort counsellors in any way as follows for ease of choice:

  • Subject matter expertise (Business, MBBS, Engineering, Biotech, Liberal Arts)
  • Education level (Subject guidance, UG, MS, Job guidance)
  • Test Preparation (GRE, GMAT, SAT)
  • Destination Country
  • Language (yes, we do have counsellors who are more than happy to speak other regional languages)
  • Admission Consulting Type (Ivy, Top 25, Top 100 or Top 250 World Universities)
  • Pricing

Any profile that you find particularly interesting, you can click on it to get more info like their biography, specialities & social media handles.

Why should you opt for Bite-Size Counselling Services?

The very obvious reason, to begin with, is the cost. The bite-size admission counselling services range from INR 4,000 – 14,000 in the MS vertical and INR 7,000 – 25,000 in the UG or MBA vertical. 

The remote nature of the process makes it more accessible and comfortable at the same time, especially during the current pandemic. The process is fast and easy as everything is online.

If these reasons aren’t enough, here’s something that will convince you. Getting professional help from subject experts helps you draft your application in a very professional way. This gives you an upper hand over your peers and increases your chances of selection significantly.

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Are Stoodnt’s Bite-Size Counselling Services Worth it?

Here is what one of my candidates Priyanka Ananthasayanam (MS Software Engineering at UC Irvine – Fall 2021 admit) has to say:

1.       What made you contact Stoodnt (or Tanmoy Ray) initially?

Since it was my first time applying to universities in the US, I wanted to seek professional help in constructing an effective SOP. I came to know about Stoodnt through the ‘Yocket’ website.

2.       What convinced you to sign up for the SoP/Essay service for MS admissions? Is it the previous reviews, pricing, Counselor’s subject matter expertise, or anything else?

I had come across Mr. Tanmoy’s website with rave reviews by students who had successfully gotten admits from the universities of their choice through his guidance. I also came across the different service packages provided on his website suited for specific needs at a suitable price range. This convinced me to approach Mr. Tanmoy for advice on my SOP.

3.       The entire process has been done remotely (Phone, Skype, or Email). Did you face any problem with the online/digital process?

No, even though the guidance was done remotely it was very effective and informative. Mr. Tanmoy was very patient and cleared all my queries.

4.       What’s your feedback on the SoP/Essay service?

I was completely satisfied and content with the service provided. Prior to seeking his advice, I was not very sure what to include in my SOP. The session with Mr. Tanmoy was an eye-opener. He helped in understanding the flow of an SOP, how to be concise, and include the necessary information. He helped to vet/review my work and gave valuable feedback that helped me to improve the content of my SOP. 

5.       Did you find the pricing worth it? Did you find the pricing reasonable, expensive or cheaper compared to other independent admissions consultants?

For an informative SOP service with two rounds of reviews, I found the price point very reasonable. After seeking his advice I was able to get a clearer idea of the relative points to include in an SOP. I would say the pricing was worth it.

6.       Would you recommend your friends, relatives, or colleagues for such bite-size services (University Shortlisting or SoP/Essay Services)?

I would definitely recommend these services to my friends and relatives. These bite-sized services are beneficial and constructive.

7.       According to you, are these bite-size services a good idea as they are in the price range of $65 – $250; whereas end-to-end guidance packages are in the range of $450 – $700?

Definitely. For students looking for guidance on specific aspects of their application, such bite-sized services are very effective. Furthermore, the price range is also very reasonable.

Below are two more feedback/reviews from the Fall 2020 admission cycle:

Ankita Sinha, who received rejections from almost all the universities she applied to got in touch with Stoodnt to understand what went wrong. After a 1-on-1 session, she was suggested to get her application reviewed. After the evaluation, she was given some important pointers, along with suggestions to make the application better and help to finalize the SOP. She found the online process comfortable and faced no issues.

Additionally, the idea of bite-size services was appealing to her and as she quotes “would definitely recommend the services to anyone who is starting their applications”. 

Anjali Garg, a Computer Science student opted for one 1:1 session and a 1-university SoP review/editing package with Student. The success rate of students who opted for the services previously was one factor that led her to choose Stoodnt. Her participation was primarily focused on the SOP process. The SOP turned out to be as she quotes “just how I wanted to represent myself to a university”. 

Contrary to her initial assumption, she found the prices to be reasonable taking into consideration the quality of services. She thinks, more people would be able to get access to the bite-size services and eventually would benefit from it. 

Caution

Independent admission consultants can significantly improve your admission chances and/or admit with scholarships at the top 100 universities in the world. However, don’t assume that they possess a magic wand.

You can’t be a straight B student and expect to get into Harvard or Oxford.

Consultants cannot get an average candidate into an Ivy League or Elite school. But, they can suggest things, which transform the applications from average to above-average and good to great. It’s as simple as that.

Secondly, don’t treat it like outsourcing. Consultants are not going to write the SoP or essays for you. That’s your job. 

Conclusion

Being an independent admission consultant myself, my views could be biased. However, I hope the feedback and reviews above would help you to make a well-informed decision in the application journey.

Good luck!

Use promo code [UniAcco25] to get a flat 25% discount on 1-on-1 sessions with any counsellor on the Stoodnt platform.

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