The definite answer is maybe. Commission-based student recruiters are not a panacea. They require support, monitoring and consistent attention to deliver results.
If you are a New York City or Boston university with a Top 100 position on the U.S. News and World Report ranking, commission-based recruiters will embrace you and almost certainly promise and deliver success in terms of sending you more applicants.
To the other hundreds of academic institutions, we are back to maybe. The largest markets sending students to the United States, China and India, have thousands of recruiting firms, ranging from tiny mom and pop stores to behehemoths working with tens of thousands of students and parents to get into an appealing, appropriate and affordable university in the United States or the U.K, Australia or Canada to focus on the English-speaking markets.
Paid college counselors are dedicated professionals, compensated foremost by parents to assist their children with the application and selection process of universites. Parents expect success for their payment in India or China (or in the U.S. for that matter from these professionals).
So, the professional counselor will try to find a good match for the student. Parents and students may have very ambitious admission goals -- the Ivy League names are the only university names some families really know abroad. Counselors will work hard to adjust expectations and place students.
Now let's focus on commission-based recruiters, who are compensated exclusively or in addition by U.S. universities for placement of a student at your university. Recruiters are rational, efficient professionals-- they want to work with universities providing the best -- and possibly -- easiest placement for a student, acceptable to the student and his/her parents. Whether your university is "easy" depends on many variables: location, profile, cost, admission standards, marketing materials. Last, but not least, if you are one of the many solid, but not highly ranked and branded U.S. universities, whether you are on the top of the mind of the recruiter will make a big difference in students and parents being receptive to your institution. You need to provide constant support, marketing materials and dedicated, responsive service. You may be asking - what am I getting for the commission payment? That's a topic for a different blog which we will certainly tackle in the future.
The bottom line is that using commission-based recruiters may give some institutions an edge in recruiting international students. There are numerous variables to consider as you consider working with agents.
For more information on building or expanding your agent recruitment network, we'd encourage you to register for our brand new e-book Student Counselors and Agents: Building and Managing Your International Network. Through interviews with over 50 international higher education professionals we unlocked and compiled a vast array of helpful hints and tips. Now all of that great information can be at your fingertips.