Interview: Former Assistant Director of Admissions at Harvard Law School on higher education admissions to top global universities

Ms. Heather Wallick, the former Assistant Director of Admissions and Financial Aid for the Graduate Program at Harvard Law School (HLS) has been managing a coaching practice in India with the goal to help students with their preparation for admission into top-tier global universities and colleges.

Ms. Heather worked for Harvard Law School for twelve years. Before joining the Graduate Program at HLS, she worked as a lawyer and an Immigration Law Specialist focusing on the area of Business and Family Immigration. Now, she is a Director of Wallick Global Consulting Private Limited, a thriving coaching practice providing support, mentoring, and capacity building to students for their highly competitive graduate school application process.
Wallick Global Consulting has attained tremendous success in helping students get admitted to very prestigious global higher education institutions. Wallick Global Consulting has quickly established the benchmark for premier higher education career planning and academic consultancy in the Indian education scenario.
Today Ms. Heather Wallick shares her insights on the success of the consultancy, and her advice for future students looking to realize their college dreams.

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Why did you choose to come to India after your time at Harvard?
When I was at Harvard, I reviewed many applications from international students. Through my work, I realised that candidates make some common, strategic mistakes in planning and choices of activities which make them less competitive. I wanted to use my expertise and training gained at one of the world’s best academic programs to support students in their higher education endeavours.


Traveling to India was an unrealised dream for many years. When I left Harvard, I had some time to think about my own next career move. As a student of international relations, I had an abiding curiosity about the world and a wish to live outside of the United States for a time to experience the world. I came to India which for me represents a large amount of untapped human capital waiting to be nurtured. It was the perfect place to launch my personalised career and education planning firm.



What kind of preparation did you do to prepare yourself for the unique needs of Indian students?

Most if not all of the dedicated admissions professionals who do admissions work at the world’s best universities have highly developed interest and expertise in the unique region they serve. In my case, I undertook significant research on the Indian education system and its progression requirements, various boards, and domestic admissions procedures. When I came to India, it was important for me to get a sense of the needs of the hour; and, therefore I travelled extensively and also gave my “Early Preparation” lectures, gratis, at the top universities and law schools such as IIT-Bombay, IIT-Delhi, IIT-Kanpur, IIT-Madras, NLSIU Bangalore, NALSAR Hyderabad, NUJS Kolkata along with many other public and private universities. In total, we visited more than 55 educational institutions across 18 Indian states to understand the ground realities in India.


Tell us about your experience working with the pool of Indian students during the last 4 years?

I am glad I came! India has talented students that any university would be proud to have studying on their campuses. However, most students I encounter seem confused about the process of applying as a whole and lack understanding and guidance about their future job prospects. My firm can help with that. Our students have received admissions at the most reputed global universities. While working with them, we have proved our hypothesis that engagement, guidance and early intervention strategies can help students attain their dreams of pursuing higher education at the top global universities.


Where do you see the gaps in the applications of students who are applying to the top ranked universities?

The most common mistake applicants make, whether undergraduate or postgraduate aspirants, is they start thinking about the application process very late. Many times, we find that they are not very clear about what career they want to pursue and, consequently, their higher education aspirations are also unclear. We have also seen that there is a gap between the preparation of candidates for studies outside of India and their aspirations.


I say this often when I am interviewed: Students often undershoot out of fear or due to poor planning. I have seen many smart students who are completely bewildered by the foreign application processes and the need to have “extras” - for example small scale, appropriate research projects, community service, music, arts, sports are almost absent by the time a student reaches Class 12. These are important engagement activities that are considered as preparation for a successful college experience.


What is the most important piece of advice you have for students who are aiming to study at the top universities of the world?

Start early! When we compare the global competition, we realise that students who start late lack the elements of a globally competitive application as it takes years of focused activities and academic credentials to compete with that pool of applicants.


Have your first meeting with a counsellor two years or more before you are considering applying. Give yourself time to plan, execute and deliver results in the years preceding your application. The number of years and the type of specific preparation varies person to person, but generally speaking, define your goals, then set about achieving them one by one. To graduate school aspirants, make sure you do a project or a paper by your third year. Research and intellectual curiosity are critical to enhance your graduate studies experience.


Why is your early preparation model all the more important in the Indian scenario?

We believe that going abroad is a big decision for the family, both financially and emotionally. Through the early preparation model, we sensitize the students from an early age about the requirements of the top-tier global universities. Through a lot of discussions with the child, we try to identify their interest to come up with suitable career options, and thereafter streamline their preparation with these goals in mind.

We also discuss their challenges and opportunities, and encourage independence and lifelong learning. One of the objectives is to empower them to take on the social and academic challenges which they will encounter when studying in a foreign country.


We also find that there is a huge difference in the approach to secondary education in India and the knowledge base that international universities expect of their candidates. India places great emphasis on fundamentals and these often put students at an advantage in mathematics and science subjects. However, there can be a growth opportunity in areas like soft skills, language application, reading, and application of knowledge.


Where have your students been admitted?

Since its founding in 2017, Wallick Global Consulting has had many admits each year to the most prestigious programs in the best ranked global universities, including Princeton, Oxford, Harvard, Cambridge, Yale, Stanford, MIT (Sloan), University of Chicago, LSE, Imperial College London, Kellogg, UC Berkeley, Columbia, Carnegie Mellon, Cornell, University of Toronto, UT Austin, Georgetown in both undergraduate and graduate degree programs. In 2021, we’ve had five admits to Cambridge and seven to Columbia for advanced degrees in law. Our students have received scholarships worth $1M USD and we continuously help them seek out additional funding opportunities.



What do you suggest to the working professionals looking to apply?

There are many people who apply while they are in the workforce. We advise them to work hard in their jobs while working smart in their applications, choose their work assignments as per their interest and align them with the course they are looking to pursue. We have a special module through which we schedule evening and weekend sessions for our working professionals.


Students and parents can reach out to Heather and the Wallick Global Consulting team here.


Disclaimer: This article has been produced on behalf of Wallick Global Consulting by Times Internet’s Spotlight team.

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