Planning your child’s future in a world of uncertainty can hound parents for years. Especially in this time where nothing is set in stone and the world is adjusting to far more changes than ever, choosing a career can seem impossible. But here’s when career guidance steps in to help you out.

After successfully building her own businesses, Payal Chitlangia dived into the world of career guidance and helped students prepare for their futures with The College Source. A natural when it comes to counselling, she has a warm personality that helps her immediately develop a strong rapport with the students that she works with. Her passion for development is contagious and that why, The Channel 46 caught up with this Self-Starter to know her journey, and get some advice for people who want to enter this space.

1. What’s your educational and professional background?

I am an Alumnus of La Martiniere for Girls, Kolkata. I went on to study Economics at Grinnell College in the US and then at the London School of Economics. I mentor students in their quest for Higher Education at Foreign Universities. Over the last 13 years, my students have gone on to study and graduate from many prestigious universities such as Harvard, Stanford, The Ivy League Colleges, London School of Economics, SMU – the list is endless. My personalised one-on-one approach in finding the most suitable or “best-fit college” for a student is unique and provides the best possible guidance for my students and their families.

2. What prompted you to become an admissions counsellor?

My experience studying in universities abroad helped me understand higher education better. Back in India, I identified that students looking to study abroad were chasing rankings instead of considering other factors that make an institution a good fit. This prompted me to start working as an admissions counsellor – helping students explore beyond publicly available rankings and instead identify and eventually attend an institution that fits their learning style and preferences. This will help them achieve their personal and academic goals better. 

3. Did you always know you wanted to work in this space?

It wasn’t my plan to work in this field. I happened to identify a gap in the admissions counselling space and wanted to help students apply to university in a less arbitrary manner.

4. What was your first work milestone and how did you get there?

A memorable work milestone was when my first batch of students was admitted to prestigious universities in 2005. I gave them individual attention and followed a rigorous one-on-one counselling process.

5. How long did it take you to monetise your venture? 

There was no turning point as such. I trained to become a counsellor and was paid for my consulting service from the beginning. 

6. Do you market online/offline? What works better for your project?

My brand has grown entirely through word-of-mouth referrals. I believe in creating long-lasting bonds with my students and their families. People who identify with my process and have witnessed how I mentor students find their way to me. Apart from that, I have only recently begun to create an online presence for my brand through social media. 

7. What are your tips for an aspirant who wants to enter this space?

  1. Think like a teenager, but strategise like an adult. 
  2. Empathise but remain practical. 

8. Are there any online/offline courses you would recommend?

The counselling courses that the University of California offer are fantastic and recognised globally. I would recommend aspiring academic counsellors to consider taking these.

9. Which networking groups and showcasing events could help an aspirant meet the right people and generate work opportunities in this field?

International ACAC and IECA are great networking organisations for counsellors where they can work on professional development.

10. What are some investments one should be ready to make when entering the education consulting space?

One should be willing to invest in growing their knowledge constantly, cultivating patience and developing a sense of humour.

Think you’re a Self-Starter or know someone who is? Drop us an email to be featured on The Channel 46 at [email protected]

About Self-Starters

We spotlight inspiring women who are entrepreneurs or have skill-based passion projects and are willing to share knowledge, advice and tips about getting started in the space. Each Self-Starter’s story will be highlighted in a prime slot on the Homepage for a whole week, after which their story will appear under the ‘Work’ category on The Channe

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