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Outsource my education and future to a foreign agent (agen universitas luar negeri) — yes, no, maybe? November 13, 2012

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IDP Education is what we might call an “agen universitas luar negeri” or foreign university agent. It’s also a global education company with over 40 years of experience helping ASEAN connect with rich educational opportunities in Australia, although now IDP has entirely outgrown Oz.

Based on my chat with Ibu Isla lat year, IDP was practically started in Indonesia. The recruiter opened its doors in Jakarta in 1981 and now has 13 offices throughout the archipelago. Unlike most other agents in town, IDP is also certified by the American International Recruitment Council (AIRC), which isn’t easy.

Still, unless you’re dealing with James Bond directly, then before placing your entire future in the hands of a foreign agent, maybe it’s a good idea to find out who they’re really working for!

IDP is owned by several dozen Australian universities and SEEK Ltd, a major player in the Asia Pacific jobs market (80% owner of  Jobs.DB  website). In addition to distributing Australian edu products in key markets like India and China, they also provide language proficiency  (33% owner of IELTS), immigration (Australia visa), research, and other related education services.

The  consulting process  they follow is clearly broken down into easy steps, which is also the point of the video below — that corporate ed giants like IDP really can streamline the  applications and admissions process so it’s almost automatic (just add money ; )

No surprises there, correct? Since the IDP stakeholders collectively hold all the relevant puzzle pieces — and can influence curriculum trends in Oz, recruiting strategies, even  immigration rules. Just guessing, but they probably know more about the Indonesian education system than Indonesia.

Still, here are a couple of other things to keep in mind:

  • University agents generally represent universities, not students (depends on contract)
  • No matter how well an education consultant understand your needs and interests, you prolly understand them a bit better

The student in the video hints at what a hassle it was to make some of the initial decisions about pursuing an education overseas (before calling IDP). However, that  hassle — or struggle — is arguably part of what we refer to as “seeking an education,” at least in the Western academic tradition.

Based on experience, shopping for a degree is real learning. The motivation to shop hard is (or should be) huge.  If this is your first degree then, then — sorry– maybe this is also your introduction to the global ed biz. Hopefully we’re not as bad as bankers (all the time =)

Agen kuliah luar negeri

EXAMPLE: So Vada likes math, business and computers. She’s been told by a mentor there aren’t many “quants in skirts” out there. So she decides to study advanced IT and finance and become a “quant.”   But what’s it called? Mathematical finance? Financial engineering? Computational finance?  Well, the answer will vary from one education market and institution to another.

So that’s where the creativity comes in.  Meanwhile, comparing the time to complete the degree, cost, location, academic rigor and relative market value — that will require a bit of  analysis, right ? And analytical  thinking is a crucial S1 and s2 job search competency.

So my point is, don’t reject  “real” learning because you want to focus on  “book” learning.  Even a difficult choice like IELTS v.  TOEFL  or GMAT v. GRE might be an opportunity to become better acquainted with nuances within your own skill set and goal set.

Another detail about IDP — so far they only have a handful of clients in the US and UK, although a few months ago they inked an important deal with State University of New York (SUNY) which has over 60 campuses, including one in South Korea.

Free USA education plus tips on money laundering — without even leaving Jakarta mall (EXPERT PANEL: Oct. 2 @America) October 1, 2012

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Wish you were still in school enjoying the fall colors of New England, instead of drowned in work emails and headlines about corruption, terrorist and money laundering in the Indonesian press?

When I’m stuck in a rut at the office I like to disappear for a few hours and attend a free lecture on campus. That’s what I used to do at uni, also –slip off to another side of campus to score a brown bag lecture on photography or something totally unrelated to my “discipline.”

A poster for a lecture held October 2, 2012 at the At America culture center in Jakarta, Indonesia


Sun. 12 Aug | S2 info session @America: info on Wharton, Stanford, Harvard & graduate scholarships August 9, 2012

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If you live near Pacific Place (S. Jakarta) then arrive early, sit in front, and just let the information wash over you. Don’t worry because some of it always sinks in.
Pacific Place

(Full disclosure: my passport says Stanford, California because that’s where my mom & dad were living when I was born.)

I also must admit that it’s pretty tough to imagine before you go what you will experience if you study overseas. Of course, it helps if you have a friend or family member who’s already gone that route. Still, my view is that participating in these types of events does pay off.

The difference between Stanford-style education and what we’ve been able to offer so far here in Indonesia is probably a little drastic. But every Indonesian who graduates from top programs like these and comes back to give us a report — well, eventually that will have an impact. So just follow along and try to imagine.

A little advice:  don’t ask a question unless you’re sure it’s clear, generally applicable and well-stated.  An academic sharing session like this is not the appropriate forum to seek information that applies specifically to your own “outta Indo” academic adventure. And it’s certainly not the time to practice your public speaking skills.

Hope to see you Sunday!

Aug. 2012 MBA prep plan: study for GMAT or work on statement of purpose? August 5, 2012

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The answer depends somewhat on your applications deadlines. A few likely scenarios are provided below.

Scenario 1: I don’t have my GMAT and I do have Oct. 2012 deadlines

If you’re applying for fall 2013 intake at top b-schools with traditional first-round deadlines (early Oct.), then you need a GMAT score now (ASAP).  That’s because schools like Desautels, INSEAD, Ivey, Queen, Stanford,Wharton wish to receive your application approx. 12 months ahead of time.  

So register at mba.com (official site) today for a GMAT test date in mid-late Sept. Because testing slots at University of Indonesia are going to fill up fast (leaving only Surabaya and Singapore which may be less convenient).

Of course, as per the awesome infographic from Accepted.com below, your statements/essays and letters of recommendation should be progressing in tandem with your GMAT prep.  If your applications have stalled, then you can ask Strata-G Test Prep & CV for help.  Just send us an email.  It’s very likely we can propose a strategy for freeing up your time and getting your applications process back on track.

Scenario 2: I already have my GMAT score

If you already have your GMAT score, then you should invest all your available time and energy into your CV, essays, letters, etc.

Scenario 3: I don’t have my GMAT score but my deadlines are mostly Nov. 2012 (and later)

Let’s say you’re focused on schools where the first-round deadline is more relaxed (usually November); or simply different.

The November group would include Erasmus in Holland; UST and CUHK in Hong Kong; and Boston College, Dartmouth, George Washington, Georgetown, UC Davis (and many more) in USA. Meanwhile, top programs like IESE (Spain), Kaist (South Korea), National University of Singapore (NUS), and INSEAD in Singapore all require a careful look since they do things a little differently.

In sum, if you don’t have  to take the test in September then stick to your GMAT study calendar for another couple months and see if you can improve your score by mid-October (retake late October if applicable).

Strategy recap:

  • Your GMAT score is like a key — even more important that your CV, etc — because you can slip it into your pocket and take it with you into next year’s application season  (2014 intake) if you don’t get the result you want this year. So study as much as you can!
  • Most people agree that applying earlier is better, so you should always shoot for Round 1. However, if you’re going to miss it, then miss it carefully: you should never send an application that isn’t complete, credible, persuasive, and as as strong as possible overall.
  • To keep all your application deadlines from bunching up together, you can choose a couple schools with non-traditional deadlines (Nov. 2012 or later).  Also, the following advice from Harvard MBA may apply to most other schools in the U.S. and Canada: “International candidates needing visas will find that applying in Round 3 makes the timing of their visa application stressful.”
  • Waiting until the last minute to send an application isn’t so good; but it isn’t so bad either, as long as you’ve done a careful job of determining when the last moment is;AND you’ve got DHL or Fed-Ex standing by to pick up your little package and fly it away to “Dear Admish Committee.”
  • Taking the GMAT before you’re ready is a good way to get ready;  but this doesn’t apply to sending b-school applications. Thus, never submit anything that isn’t ready, because there’s no reliable “redo” option.
  • Applying to several competitive foreign MBA programs is comparable to a full-time job (in terms of time and #setres  = ) . Thus, if you’re working full time, you will need to be extremely creative as regards time management. If you feel you’re running out of time, consider sending us an email. We can sometimes confirm a basic deadline question for no charge.

Hopefully you’ll turn out to be wrong, meaning there’s still time left before the deadline. Otherwise  (if you really are out of time), we can help you speed up the applications process.

Admissions calendar

As regards, the  gorgeous rainbow-pastel instant classic from Linda Abrams above, if you don’t have time to devise a plan like this one, then consider having someone else do it for you. Because nothing will be more helpful to you in accomplishing your admissions goal than a planning calendar. (The Accepted.com blog is also awesome.)

then you already have your GMAT score or else you need one ASAP.

Rocksteady for writers — the two-step April 12, 2012

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Like this:

If you sort, label, organize and package your writing well, then your points one and two — and so forth —  are gonna come rolling right outta the box at the reader’s feet and ask to shake his hand (as illustrated below by Thing 1, Thing 2, and Dr. Seuss’ inimitable Cat in the Hat!)

How the get the most out of an Indonesian education fair (pameran pendidikan) March 24, 2012

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Has it been a year already since the Sampoerna event? Whoaa. Time flies.  Here’s the details about pameran pendidikan USA.

Sampoerna was huge and a lot of fun. I can’t imagine there will be as many schools this year. Does anyone know? Here’s what’s happening tomorrow at Shangri-La in Jakarta:

  • Workshop from 10:00- 12:00
  • All about the sistem pendidikan Amerika or US education system
  • Immigration (student visa)
  • Scholarship (beasiswa)
  • Tips menulis essay — that would be more or less your personal statement
I go each year and these events are fun but also exhausting. It’s really like being on campus — tons of interesting information, but not enough time and energy to deal with it all.
Bring a backpack for all the brochures. Pack a lunch. Wear comfortable shoes. Get mentally prepared before hand so you’re not shy or tongue tied. Have fun!
Here are a few specific tips:
  • Set goals about who you want to talk to. Don’t get frustrated if you run out of time. All the information is online.
  • Ask everyone the same questions. Some people will not understand. Some people will be tired or even rude. It doesn’t matter. Eventually you’ll get good answers if you keep asking the same questions.
  • Take notes. A voice recorder might work.
  • Send follow-up emails the next day. Even if you don’t get answers, you’ll still have the key information saved in your sent mail.
What are my favorite questions for the reps?
  • So why do you think Indonesian students are interested in studying in the US? (Very often they have no answer. Which means they failed to prepare.)
  • I hear your university is famous for [insert big guess lucky guess ]. Yes, you may get it 100% wrong . But it’s a fast non-boring way to learn.
  • Say something about the education market. Education is business and the reps are in sales, not academia. (There are plenty of exceptions and you may well find yourself chatting with a professor). So, to get the conversation started ask about competition with other universities within the same system, other types of universities, other countries, etc.
  • Say this: “My friend said UCLA might give him a scholarship for if he decides to go there. Personally, I find it hard to believe. From what I know, plenty of Californians are having trouble paying for college. So why would the state give money to Indonesians.  (It all depends on the program.  While it’s an obvious argument, sometimes the universities are trying to solve a problem or create a solution with the scholarship money and they really don’t care about nationality.)
  • So what do you think about Indonesia? This is just small talk. But it helps the rep remember who you are. That way you’ll be more likely to get a response later when you do your followup via Linked-In, email, etc.

Old GMAT is your friend (until June 5, 2012) March 24, 2012

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This Strata-G post argues that: it’s best to either 1) take the GMAT now (before 5 June 2012); OR 2) wait and take the GMAT until after August 2012.

According to Businessweek, the new GMAT “will be different from anything students have encountered before on the test” — and that’s not good.

Why was it necessary to make the GMAT harder in the first place? Well, the story from GMAC was:

The most recent survey of 740 business faculty worldwide in 2009 revealed that they believed incoming students needed to assimilate, interpret, and convert data, evaluate outcomes, and listen.

I’m not sure about listening skills on the GMAT. I do know that GMAT is in dynamic competition with GRE (a similar test marketed by ETS). And since GRE just did a major facelift, it’s not surprising to find a “new and improved” GMAT product this year.

So what’s the difference? Just one thing — a mystery section called “integrated reasoning.” It will replace one of the writing essays (the “issue”). So your four four GMAT sections on the new GMAT are:

  • AWA (one essay)
  • Quant (maths)
  • Verbal (like TOEFL but much harder)
  • Integrated reasoning (charts and graphs + analysis)


Study USA Fair @Shangri-La, Jakarta on 25 March, 2012 — see u there! March 12, 2012

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“Unheard of” schools like Green River recruit thousands of Indonesians, other international students February 6, 2012

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In NYT article titled Illegal Overseas Ross Jennings, VP at Green River Community College (Auburn Washington) suggetsts the community college wouldn’t have been able to recruit its 1400 international students without the help of agents ” “since the whole community college concept of coming for two years and then transferring to a four-year university is unknown in most countries.”

It’s using agents that’s controversial — perhaps “illegal” — not the students themselves. It’s the old notion that education, although the beginning of one’s  career is different in important ways. Supposedly it’s a time when you have a bunch of decisions and choices to make. And everybody — including employers — want to see how you make those choices. Everyone is a bit disappointed — I guess — to think that you weren’t actually the one making the decisions. Instead you were part of a money-making scheme involving a community college with big ambitions but apparently not a lot of resources.

“We need agents who know us and understand what we do,” said Jennings, according to the article.

Actually, I think a lot of  Indonesians have heard of this school. You can even transfer to Berkeley from GRCC.

Would I go to GRCC? Probably. Sounds pretty fun with all the international students, etc. A lot more relaxed than Berkeley. Score some easy credits and transfer. I just wonder what the advantage of using an agent is ??

Stanford MBA in Indonesia on Halloween (!) at Pacific Place October 27, 2011

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