How Wallick Global Consulting is helping students crack the admissions code for Ivy League colleges
India may have a host of reputed institutions for higher education, but that doesn’t stop Indian students from applying for courses abroad and seeking an Ivy League education. In fact, a study by UNESCO Institute of Statistics suggests that the exploration of greater opportunities led more than three lakh Indian students to migrate overseas in 2016, as compared to only 66,713 students in 2000.
The idea of studying abroad may seem exciting, but the process is often tiring and intimidating. This is where Noida-based Wallick Global Consulting (WGC) comes in, helping potential students get admission in the top 100 universities of the world.
Unlike popular “placement agencies”, WGC offers a unique blend of coaching services, including profile building, admission assistance, and financial aid recommendations.
Bootstrapped with $ 10,000 , the education consultation startup was cofounded by Heather Wallick, former Assistant Director of Admissions and Financial Aid for Graduate Program (LLM) at Harvard University, and, serial entrepreneur Prashant Yadav.
“We are very clear about our role as a coach. Unlike an agent, we enhance the abilities/performance of our clients,” says Prashant, 35.
The Eureka moment
In 2013, Prashant, an electrical engineer and serial entrepreneur was working with his cousin, a Harvard alumnus, on an education policy initiative.
“I got to interact with many Harvard, MIT, and Stanford alumni at that time. Those interactions completely changed my perceptions about top schools,” Prashant says.
He realised that preparing well ahead of time and under experts would exponentially increase the chances of a student’s success. Envisioning the increase in the percentage of Indian students in global universities, Prashant started a pilot in 2016.
In another corner of the world, Heather, 49, who had worked with Harvard Law School for more than 12 years, retired in 2015, and was exploring opportunities in the education field.
The duo met each other through a common friend from Harvard and started discussing the idea of starting a consultancy company. Heather flew down to India in November 2016, to understand the Indian edtech market better.
Heather, during her tenure at Harvard, would review applications for the law school’s LLM programme. “I realised that most students make common mistakes in their applications that lead to their rejections,” she says. Another untapped problem seemed to be Indian students’ unawareness of scholarships.
After four months of intense research by visiting 50 schools and colleges and across 12 Indian states, they decided on launching WGC and registered the startup in August 2017.
WGC’s first student was a law graduate from Delhi University, with a 54 percent at CLC. He was referred by Prashant’s family friend, and went on to receive applications from Georgetown and Columbia Universities.
Apart from the two founders, WGC has one full-time employee, four interns, and a couple of advisors, including Shailendra Kumar, an INSEAD graduate, and, Vinod Yadav, alumnus of Cox School of Business, USA.
While all students aspire to study at leading schools, not every applicant is fit for them. WGC believes in providing realistic ideas to students and suggesting the best fit school for every student.
It conducts talks at elite Indian schools through which students get to know about them. Moreover, aspiring students can apply for WGC’s consultancy, through their website. Heather personally evaluates the profiles of every student who applies.
“The assessment is based on students’ CVs, a write-up of 300 words on their aspiration of higher education, a list of colleges they wish to apply to, and their competitive test reports (like GMAT, SAT),” Prashant says.
“We evaluate the aspirations of every student. If not consistent with activities and achievements they have already secured, we set goals for them and closely monitor them,” he adds.
WGC is basically a service provider – a mix of mentorship, consulting, and capacity building through discussions and tests. It assists and guides three different sets of students – school students who wish to apply for grad school abroad; graduates who want to apply for masters; and, students who wish to apply to business schools.
For school students, WGC suggests activities that would ultimately help them build a profile for their dream colleges. The startup closely monitors these students and educates them about the process. It charges them Rs 3 lakh per year, or Rs 4 lakh for two years of consultation.
For graduates, the fee depends on their time of joining, the college they have graduated from and the number of universities they are planning to apply to. Giving an example, Prashant says for a typical IIT-ian, with GRE above 330, willing to apply in five colleges, the fee would be Rs 1 lakh.
“For graduate students, the resume, internships, and an original research usually determine the universities to which the student will apply,” Prashant says.
They have a similar pricing policy for students looking to apply to business schools. A typical potential MBA student is charged $5,000 for 10 applications. “During application season, we work with students on nuances of the application process and provide them an admission officer’s perspective on their application, which eventually leads to many drafts for SOP (statement of purpose), resume, and brag sheet,” Prashant says.
Heather is quite clear that she does not involve herself in securing recommendations or editing them.
“All the components in a well-rounded application include focusing on the students’ areas of strength, their educational aspirations, and their prior work or internships,” she says.
Heather also offers personalised services for students who need them at a rate of Rs 21,000 per hour.
The numbers game
So far, WGC has around 30 placed students at MIT-Sloan, Stanford, Cambridge, Yale, New York University, University of Michigan, and Columbia University, among others. According to the founders, the startup has been growing at a rate of 500 percent, year on year.
The Indian edtech market is pegged to touch $1.96 billion by 2021, according to a report by KPMG and Google.
And according to a report by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), with an annual CAGR of three percent, the number of students travelling abroad for higher studies in 2019 is estimated to be 4.6 million across the globe.
WGC competes with startups such as iSchoolConnect, studyportals, MyMBACircle.com, and gradschoolmatch. What sets it apart is Heather’s experience of screening applications for international students for over 15 years and her personalised initial evaluation of applications.
The startup now plans to build a tech platform to cater to the needs of student applicants, and the founders are looking to secure funding to make this possible.
(Edited by Teja Lele Desai)