A Holistic and 360 degree Abroad Career & Higher Education Guidance by TCC – Dhaval Mehta, Founder & CEO, TNI Career Counselling.

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Dhaval Mehta, Founder & CEO, TNI Career counselling
Dhaval Mehta, Founder & CEO, TNI Career counselling

What is the key differentiator that sets TCC apart in the current space of Higher Education Counselling?
TCC is focused on an impact based outcome for our clients higher education goals –
mainly school/colleges, students and professionals. We provide an end to end process from
initial assessment, mentoring, test prep to profile building, summer school and full time
applications, loan, visa, housing, insurance, ticketing for 12+ countries and 1200+ universities.
Our bid starts by providing the student with a career report defining their expertise and
(experience). We use AI-based solutions to create an apt career report and gap analysis. Based
on the personality, interest, career values and motivators, learning styles, and skill sets that are
found strong we generate an initial understanding of the student’s strongest career areas. We
also get to know areas of improvement, but their strengths are what we focus on for profile-
building strategies. For schools/colleges we provide counselor resources, overall higher
education planning, student career mapping, test preparation, applications and
recommendations. These help to increase overall student achievement and brand visibility
which in turn allows consistency in growth of student numbers, specially for newer
schools/colleges.
Post this an initial counselling session with an experienced counsellor/mentor results in a two-
way dialogue that provides clarity on career options, types of courses, country, and university
options. Eventually, the combination of the initial input, AI & gap analysis, and initial
counselling session helps in building a roadmap for success including shortlisting universities
and courses.

We also suggest the students who are in state boards, CBSE, ICSE/ISC to give AP exams, which
support their application and earn college credit, and so identifying the right APs early on is
important. The students applying to IB or Cambridge are not required to give the AP exams
unless they want to strengthen other areas for their application.

Post guiding the students through the preparations for the entrance tests like the ACT, SAT,
GMAT, GRE, or IELTS and profile-building strategies. We involve extracurricular partners and
non-profit organizations based expert mentors to guide them with questions on careers, the
application process including resume building, essays, recommendations, campus life, etc.

The key differentiator that sets TCC apart is expert ‘Mentors’, who have gone through the
process. So amalgamating expertise, experience and technology help us make the above
process efficient and effective.

While mapping the career plan for the students, what kind of challenges are you currently
facing amidst the pandemic scenario? And how has TCC supported the student community in
countering them?
While considering a study abroad, the selection, test preparation and application
process sometimes takes 6 months to a year and we stay like a shadow with the students.
Having said that, the global pandemic and the unprecedented lockdowns made our challenges
tougher initially, due to change in physical to online mode. Thus, it encouraged students to
adapt to digitally sound platforms which supported the whole application process.
We have moved to an online dashboard and app that is being beta tested so students can sign
up for services, review their shortlisted colleges, progress on the application, documents
submitted by them, with notifications that keep them informed, and hear from community
leaders giving insights about careers and universities.
To make our services quicker as well as efficient we have adopted AI-based career assessment
tests and tools. We have experienced that the advice given on the basis of these results are
more accurate which then combined with mentor guidance allows for a more focused planning and execution. The results also help us suggest various online courses to streamline the career
interest.
As counsellors, we face several challenges from goal building, making the client focus and
complete tests and other requirements on time, to getting transcripts and other documents
and then making the client select the right universities. However, one of the biggest challenges
that we face is mapping the career path aligned with different factors like student’s interests,
skills, the eligibility criteria of the universities, financial situation, etc. Every country and
university has different criterias. So, apart from the student’s career interest and skills, we also
need to make sure to consider the criteria laid by different universities. If we consider the
institutions from the UK, they expect the student applying for bachelors to declare his or her
major while they start the course which is similar to applying for masters programs.
Comparatively, US requires a more holistic profile assessment.
Considering all these factors the students are highly recommended to start early maybe in
grade 9th onwards. And for those in 3 or 4 year undergraduate programs to start by year 2.
Now, students reaching out to us at the end moment with various career areas in mind is
another big challenge that we encounter, which too is handled with an efficient solution by our
team of expert mentors and experienced administrators. We help students with constructing
the right communication with universities as well which improves their chances of admission.

What kind of platforms and tech solutions does TCC equip the students with in order to
make an apt institution choice and to achieve their target admission goals?
TCC has always believed that integrating technology within the process is going to
make it even more clear and lucid. To achieve any kind of goal you need to make small goals for
yourself. And reaching the ultimate goal of getting into the dream university, the students need
to ace at the smaller goals too. Keeping this in mind TCC has developed an online portal and
featured a dashboard incorporating smart solutions that cater to all these smaller goals.
The dashboard includes the step-wise application process, its status, and a guide on what the
students need to do in order to complete the steps. The mentors, students, as well as parents have access to this dashboard. We have observed that students get a lot of clarity of the
application process plus feel motivated to complete all the steps efficiently.
We have also moved a step forward and started providing AI-based solutions to create a career
report, map careers and shortlist universities. It gives us more analytical and apt results and
increases the chances of the application getting approved.

How greatly is the TCC team involved with students through the processes of their
application?
Answer: We make sure to be a part of each step that students take throughout the application
phase. Our process includes end-to-end support. We start with IC in order to engage the child's
interest. From IC we move on to assist the child with test preparation, college admission and
extracurricular activities. As counsellors, we need to follow a holistic and 360-degree approach.
That’s why not only do we offer expertise in career guidance, but also extend our help during
visa application, finding university or local accommodation, assisting with the scholarship
process, Travel assistance (including tickets, foreign exchange, bank opening, etc.)
TCC mentors are not only in touch with the students till the admissions but also beyond it. We
make sure to provide our guidance during the internships and placements, as well. This way we
have managed to create an end-to-end service.

What have been the brand learnings in the unprecedented scenario? With Edtech ramping
up in this situation how has TCC integrated tech and evolved in its approach and solutions
framework?
Being online we realised we could get students to attend free webinars and engage
them with several activities. The most prominent brand learning so far is expanding our
horizons with regard to university knowledge and associations, and adding AI to the career
counselling process. Along with the application process we need to support our students
through the profile building and gaining extra skills sets through courses and classes. Thus we
focused on growing and expanding our extra curricular and university partnerships adding 50
extra-curricular partners and direct/indirect associations with 1200 Universities.

Keeping pandemic and lockdown in view, we understood that we can face unprecedented
problems even in a well-mapped path. It created a lot of miscommunication and confusion.
Student’s problems had to be addressed. We did so by conducting 100+ webinars and
workshops during covid and reaching out to 1000+ students for MS, UG, MBA etc.
The current situation has given a real push to the edtech market and every industry player must
keep up with it. We are currently working on finalising our website redesign in our effort to
keep up with the increasing edtech market. We have a pre-existing network of 100+ mentors
from 50+ career areas. With this website, we plan on making the entire process of studying
abroad quick and hassle free.
Our platforms will help students connect with the required/correct mentor who will help them
add deep perspective and future vision, advise on profile building, also clear doubts on campus
life, career opportunities and maximise their chances of an admit into their dream university.

What has the global admission application trend been like in the last 2 years in India? And
any thoughts on what can be expected in the near future?
The coronavirus pandemic last year forced a lot of students to defer their plans to
study abroad. Experts now believe that getting into a foreign university this year is going to be
tougher as students were not able to apply because of last year’s halt. These students will apply
in 2021 along with fresh applicants. MBA Applications were down in 2020, whereas
undergraduate applications to US universities from India were up by 30% due to the entrance
test waiver.
The Common App for US Universities states that in comparison to the academic year 2019-20,
the applications to undergraduate programs grew by 9% this year. The organisation also stated
that applications from Indians spiked by 28%. In 2021, we are already seeing a high interest
from students and parents to prepare early on for their applications with US and Canada degree
programs seeing deadlines from October to January. Interest in specialised masters programs
and MBA has also increased like robotics, data science and analytics.