Here’s How Parents In China Get Their Kids Into Choice US Colleges

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Chinese parents have spent millions of dollars on application coaches to get their kids into premium U.S. colleges, according to an investigation by Foreign Policy.

Parents in China have reportedly employed consultants to increase their children’s chances of being accepted into a choice school, using similar tactics to those of U.S. parents recently arrested in a highly-publicized college bribery scheme.

China represented the largest number of foreign students attending U.S. colleges in 2018, with 340,000 enrolled, according to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

Hundreds of companies in China offer students application guidance, according to Foreign Policy. Hiring a coaching “agent” is common and can cost as much as $90,000, but this big price tag reportedly guarantees at least three acceptances into a “Top 60” school.

Paid agents suggest extracurricular activities and assist with SAT and ACT preparation. They also help applicants write their personal essay, a critical application component students struggle with because the American essay style is vastly different from Chinese written language.

For $29,800, another company named Bonday offers students pre-application advice, “soft-skills” training, and essay tailoring. They boast acceptances into Princeton and Harvard. Yingtai Education charges $14,900 for similar services, while a company called Jiazhou charges $7,150 for straight application preparation.

Most of the companies interviewed by Foreign Policy denied blatant essay ghostwriting, but some acknowledged that parents expect the counselors to write essays wholesale for the students.

“Unethical behavior is still pretty rampant,” Nina Suet, founder and CEO of Shang Learning. Suet told Foreign Policy that her company adheres to ethical standards on counseling students through the Independent Educational Consultants Association.

U.S. schools are weary of fraud, however, and several colleges have reportedly engaged third parties to verify that Chinese students match their applications in real life.

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