Consultant Interview

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Warren Stanislaus Warren Stanislaus
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Warren is a bilingual education and communications professional and is currently working towards a Ph.D. in Oriental Studies at the University of Oxford, splitting his time between Japan and the UK. Warren completed a B.A. in Liberal Arts at International Christian University and received his Master’s degree from the University of Oxford’s Nissan Institute of Modern Japanese Studies. He will draw on his diverse background, an acute awareness of the Japanese context and extensive interactions with universities, to help clients gain admission to top MBA and graduate programs.
Originally from London, Warren first came to Japan in 2006 as a volunteer and returned to Tokyo in 2007 as a full-time undergraduate student. Since then, he has spent over 8 years in Japan, with work experience across the private, public and nonprofit sectors. Previously, Warren served as a higher education officer at the British Council where he supported British universities’ student recruitment activities in Japan, through fairs, seminars and individual counseling.
Most uniquely, Warren had the opportunity to serve as the executive research assistant to Yoichi Funabashi, former editor-in-chief of the Asahi Shimbun and Chairman of the Rebuild Japan Initiative Foundation (RJIF), a think-tank. At RJIF, Warren gained experience in crafting speeches, editing, and article writing for leading publications and high-profile international symposia.

Hey, Warren, tell us a bit about yourself.

I am originally from London, England and am of mixed heritage, including Trinidadian, Swiss, German and Nigerian, with a Polish surname from my Caribbean side (and now married to a Japanese)! As a child, it was always a dream of mine to visit Tokyo. Today, I am a Japan specialist and long-term resident. My original exposure to the country was through pop culture. Now my interests lie in Japanese social movements and political culture.

Above all, I am passionate about education and creating opportunities for others. I am in training to become a university professor and regularly participate in educational activities related to youth empowerment, international exchange and community building. In particular, I am dedicated to supporting the globalization of Japanese universities.

Why did you decide to come to Japan and what has your experience been like so far?

My first visit to Japan was as an 18-year-old, fresh out of a South-East London high school. I worked as a “gap-year” volunteer for six months in a kindergarten and home for the elderly in Nishio City, Aichi Prefecture. As you can imagine this was a unique opportunity to experience the diversity of Japanese culture. It was also life changing. I gave up my deferred offer to attend a university in my home country and embarked on a radically different journey by becoming one of the few Brits who study abroad for their first degree.

Originally I planned to study Japanese at a university in the UK, however, after spending time in rural Japan I knew that in order to master the language and better understand the complexities of the culture from an insider’s perspective, it was vital to study at a university in Japan. Six months became four years, four years became eight years, and now I spend my days reading and writing about Japanese society for my PhD. Japan is an integral part of my life.

And you are an Admissions Consultant at AGOS. What do you like best about your work?

The most rewarding aspect of being an admissions consultant is the opportunity to build strong professional relationships with so many talented candidates. In particular, I enjoy getting to know my client’s background, personality and goals. I try to place myself in the applicant’s shoes, and by doing so, supporting the applicant throughout the admissions process becomes a personal matter that I feel passionate about.

How would you describe your consulting style?

Working in research, analysis and communications at a leading Tokyo-based think tank, gave me a knack for identifying key information and arranging it in an appealing or convincing way for the relevant audience. I support clients in finding and telling their stories.

To secure admission to MBA and graduate programs overseas, it is not enough to have good test scores. The schools want to know about you as a person, and how you will be an asset to the program and student body. In other words, you need to be able to identify your unique selling points, demonstrate its relevance and communicate its significance.

Through targeted conversations and probing questions, I help applicants discover relevant information and experiences from their career that will pique the interest of admissions committees. I will work with the client to piece together the information and craft a persuasive narrative that will be the heart of an application.

For example, I have assisted numerous applicants in comprehending the bigger picture of their work or field of study beyond the domestic situation in Japan. The admissions committee was able to see how my clients could contribute to a stimulating class discussion and become future global leaders. I also work with clients to identify the specific professor, course or institute at their chosen universities that align with their personal goals. The feedback I receive from applicants suggests that this is some of the most useful advice as they learn how to better match their story to the university.

What advice do you have for applicants who decide to work with you?

I encourage clients not to overlook any aspect of the application. It is often the parts, which seem smaller, or on first appearance may appear irrelevant that can be the difference between success and failure.

As an admissions consultant, I am very particular about ensuring that the client thinks strategically and holistically about their application. In order to be truly competitive, I am convinced that you need to help the admissions committee picture you as a member of the university. Don’t leave anything to the imagination if you can fill it in yourself!

So my advice would be to start thinking about which specific professor you want to work with, or the class that you hope to enroll in. What clubs or societies do you intend to participate in? Have you read any of the work published by a specific professor and how will this be relevant to your development? Have you visited the campus or been in contact with anyone at the university to discuss your plans?

What do you like to do when not helping AGOS Admissions clients achieve their goals?

In my spare time, I enjoy football (British), cooking (non-British), outdoor activities, volunteering and listening to an eclectic selection of music ? from classic (Monteverdi, Thomas Tallis etc.) to soul (Chaka Khan, Anita Baker etc.).

I am also the Co-Founder and President of the Oxford Alumni Club of Japan, which allows me to pursue my other passions of event management and building relationships. This group started out as a small gathering of friends and acquaintances that were graduates from my course. Today it is the largest Oxford-only alumni network in Japan with members from across the departments, colleges and graduation years.

Any final comments?

My approach to admissions consulting is very holistic. As I have mentioned already, a successful application will never be solely based on good “data” such as test scores or an outstanding GPA. Taking this one step further, having a promising career and the potential to be an outstanding student is also only one aspect of the evaluation process. You need to offer something more. To become a competitive candidate you should approach the application as a figure skater ? show off your multidimensional personality and talents ? not a speed skater that is single-minded in their pursuit of getting over the line before others.

I would encourage clients to really reflect on what their unique contribution to the school will be. Or worded another way, how are you going to make an impact? Not only is this a crucial issue for the admissions committee, but it will also help you to picture yourself at the university (or post-graduation), and decide if it is really the best option to enhance your life at this moment in time. At AGOS we don’t just want to help you to get into any university, we want you to receive an offer from the right one.