Recruiting agencies often harmful to students

International students are advised to access information about Temple from the Web site instead of from expensive agenices.

Applying to college can be a daunting task. It is even harder if you are applying to a school halfway around the world.

For many of these students, the process of applying to the United States to study abroad can be a tedious and time consuming process, and very expensive. Often international students pay recruiting agencies to help them fill out applications and other required documentation in order to receive their visas to come to the United States.

According to the Office of International Affairs, 1,864 international students from 127 countries were enrolled at Temple in 2007.

Though enrollment of international students steadily increases, the university does not use recruiting agencies due to ethical issues.

“Agencies bring a financial variable that puts pressure on the family and student unnecessarily,” said Timm Rinehart, associate vice president for enrollment management.

Rinehart said there is also a concern that recruiting agencies may not represent the university appropriately.

“Temple University is becoming more aware about the role of agencies and will determine in the near future if and how to engage them,” Rinehart said.

Instead of using an agency, international students can access admission applications for free on the Office of International Services Web site, Rinehart said.

The Office of International Services provides information and assistance to international students to help answer any questions regarding the application process.

“Although Temple doesn’t have a campus in China, we do have a program in China in collaboration with Tsinghua University,” said John Smagula, director of Asian Programs at the Beasley School of Law.

Staff at both the Beijing office and Philadelphia office work together “to try and raise public awareness about Temple programs, to create a buzz about Temple, and to generate interests in Temple.”

Smagula said a key component of recruiting prospective law students is word of mouth.

“When prospective students have questions about the program, we will have alumni call them to answer questions,” Smagula said.

“The American Bar Association discourages [agency] use, especially if there are contingency fees,” Smagula said. “However, this issue comes up frequently at the American Association of Law Schools annual conference, and we’re planning to learn more about other schools’ experiences in exploring what the permissible scope of use could be.”

Temple uses two agency companies, the World MBA Tour and MBA Tour, to arrange and host college fairs around the world.

The companies have Web sites that allow students to register for the Graduate Management Admissions Test.

“People inquiring about the GMAT or signing up for the exam can come to the MBA tours or fairs. It is an opportunity for the prospective students to interview and have face time with a school counselor,” said Chris Butto, director of graduate admissions operations for the Fox School of Business.

Butto said technology is changing the way colleges and universities have recruited students in the past.

“A new breakthrough in Internet service products are virtual catalog brochures that are tailored to a particular person,” Butto said. “Students can go directly to college Web pages and access customized tailored pages about particular programs.

“Traditional media are moving toward more electronic and efficient ways to market to individuals. The use of view books or thick catalogs that colleges used to mail and ship have virtually gone away.”
Butto does not encourage students to use agencies.

“We would prefer students research schools themselves,” Butto said.

He added that admission directors or advisers would prefer to see more of the “real student” and less of the consultant.

In the past, Butto said he received application forms from agencies that have inserted the wrong school name.

To combat unethical agencies, the American International Recruitment Council was incorporated in Washington, D.C., in June.

The council’s goals include developing ethical practices regarding international student recruitment to American educational institutions, providing training for agencies and creating a certification system for consumers to effectively evaluate recruiting agencies.

“As school processes become more transparent because of the Internet,” many of the unethical and marketing scams will go away, Butto said.

Sue Ann Rybak can be reached at

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