How to choose an Independent Education Consultant

These days, many more parents appreciate the benefits of working with an education consultant to aid in their child’s preschool, primary or secondary school application. At the same time, it is more important than ever to make sure that the person being hired is knowledgeable, competent, well-informed, ethical, and student-focused.

We suggest the top dozen questions to ask an education consultant before hiring, as well as five signs that someone you are talking to may not have what it takes.

  1. Do you guarantee admission to ABC school, one of my top choices? (Do NOT trust any offer of guarantees.)

  2. How do you keep up with new trends, academic changes and evolving campus cultures? How often do you get out and visit schools to meet with principals and admissions staff? (We suggest a minimum of 30 schools a year.) Do the principals and admissions staff know you? ( Call up and check!)

  3. Do you ever accept any form of compensation from a school, program, or company in exchange for a placement or a referral? (They absolutely should not!)

  4. Are all fees involved stated in writing, up front, indicating exactly what services I will receive for those fees?

  5. Will you complete the application for admission, re-write my open ended questions, or fill out the financial aid forms on my behalf? (This is not normally part of the service. However, if the parents struggle with English or otherwise genuinely need support, the consultant should be flexible on this.)

  6. How long have you been in business as an independent education consultant in Hong Kong?

  7. What was your background before going into education consulting? What was your training and education? (It’s not uncommon to find someone newly assigned to this role without any background in education/admissions/parenting…or even Hong Kong.)

  8. Will you use personal connections to get me into one of my top choices? (The answer should be NO. A consultant doesn’t get you admitted—they help you to demonstrate why you deserve to be admitted.)

  9. Are you able to support applications to local schools as well as international schools?

  10. How many children have you placed in schools in the last two years? What was the background of those children/families (Concrete data should be provided and a fit in terms of the schools you are seeking admission to.)

Five warning signs that an agent or consultant may not be trustworthy:

  1. They guarantee acceptance at a chosen school.

  2. They do not detail what services will be provided for a certain fee.