Resources for Educators who are recruiting and enrolling students from China in the USA.
Published On: Fri, Jul 31st, 2015

Tips for working with agents in China

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Why do Chinese families continue to use education agents?
Quite simply, the Chinese education system is significantly different from USA’ and Chinese parents may not understand English well enough so they feel overwhelmed by the number of schools that are available in the USA. Then again, even those of who grew up in the US still hire college coaches to give kids a competitive edge.

Reliance on Chinese education agents as intermediaries:
Chinese families now have the monetary resources to send their only child abroad to US colleges. Thanks to the one-child policy, a middle income family can pull resources from grandparents and relatives on both sides to send their only child to a earn a US degree. Most of these students are first in their families to study abroad. Like my parents who immigrated to the USA, there is a lack of familial guidance and understanding of the education systems (US vs China) despite the fact that my parents knew English fluently. I remember my parents telling me to go to a private high school so that my chances for getting accepted by an ivy league university would be far better plus I had to study hard and test well (they did not encourage me to do sports but they could not stop me from getting involved with student clubs, drama, art and tennis). When it came time for me to apply for college, my parents really could not help me. I can completely understand why Chinese families who struggle with English need help understanding the college application process in the United States. It is also customary in the Chinese tradition for parents to tell their child what to do or have someone do it for them if they do not know what to do (in this case, it is the latter since parents have no idea how to help their child apply but those who do will use agents to save time or for convenience).

Ethics behind Chinese education agents
Thousands of Chinese students have been admitted to US institutions but very few truly understand the application process. Chinese education agents, (many of whom were educated in the US and returned to China to take part in this booming business by opening an office), may not always use the most ethical standards. Some agents prioritize monetary gains over students’ well-being in getting into the right fit school. In fact, they purposely recruit only for higher rank schools because it is easier to find students. They often mislead parents by guaranteeing admission to a college and then later falsifying the student’s documents (recommendation letters, personal statements, etc) to achieve that promise. They take advantage of their client’s lack knowledge about the US application process. Some agents have made it so that families are completely dependent on them during the application process because the agent assumes the student’s identity without ever showing the student any emails, application forms and requirements from US colleges. There is no transparency for the Chinese families on how the agent represents them to a US college. Furthermore, these agents double dip by receiving payment from Chinese families but also recruiting commission from US schools. Instead of researching the best fit school for the student, the agent is busy counting his bank transactions.

On the other hand, the Chinese agents who operate ethically and with the student’s best interest in mind will select the best institutions, translate documents and simply serve as a bridge between the US college and the Chinese family. These agents also help the Chinese students understand that the application process for college is all about self reflection (which most Chinese students have very little time to do given their 15 hour long school day and weekend cram courses).

Tips on how to work with agents:
1) Ask them if they charge their clients and how much or the process they use to recruit students?
2) Respond to their questions so that they do not misrepresent or miscommunicate information about your school to their clients or provide relevant information in Chinese
3) Make sure to follow up frequently with their candidate (Universities in the United States and Canada received low marks for communication with prospective international students in a recent survey released by Study Portals, British Council, and IELTS, all NAFSA Global Partners). http://cdn.prtl.eu/mp/a2db0457.pdf

4) Pay them right after your student is admitted and has paid tuition

If you would like USA College Connection to review the materials in Chinese and diagnose your recruiting process, please contact Irene Tieh: irene@askucc.com

Good Luck Recruiting!

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