The Ivy Coach Daily

March 20, 2024

Why You Should Avoid College Consultants Based in China

This is the flag of China.

Previously Published on May 26, 2011:

Like in any industry, there are good and bad private college counselors. There are college counseling firms in which the counselors are not, in fact, experts on the elite college admissions process — they’re neither former high school counselors nor former elite college admissions officers. Instead, they’re recent college graduates who earned admission to top schools, and, as such, they believe they know the ins and outs of the admissions process (spoiler alert: they don’t!). Or they’re parents of students who successfully navigated the admissions process, so now they believe they’re experts.

Heck, even those who are former school counselors and admissions officers from top schools aren’t necessarily experts on the process. At Ivy Coach, we train our former admissions officers from elite universities — including Stanford University, the University of Pennsylvania, Dartmouth College, and the University of Chicago — to beat the system at its own game, fairly and ethically.

The Bad U.S. Private College Counseling in China

And while unqualified — and bad — private college counselors are everywhere, including across the United States, if we had to pick one country in which the counselors are so bad that students would be in better hands if they went to the local circus and asked some performers to help them with their applications, it would be China. That’s right: China.

Over the years, we’ve read stories and heard about some of these “admissions agents,” as they’re often called in China, who lack the credentials to help guide students through the highly selective U.S. admissions process and, even more importantly, know no ethical bounds. Indeed, it often seems they’ll do anything to make a quick buck.

The Rise of “Admissions Agents” in China

So what will these “admissions agents” in China do? They’ll write essays for students. In some cases, they’ll even give students pre-selected essays they’ve given to other students. They’ll fill The Common Application’s activities sections with activities the student didn’t actually participate in. They’ll forge transcripts. They’ll have other students sit for interviews in place of students whose English language skills are lacking. The list goes on.

And, to top it off, at the less selective schools (America’s top universities won’t do this), they’ll even score a commission for sending students to these institutions from the universities themselves. That’s right — a commission as though these admissions agents are real estate brokers. Well, like real estate brokers, it’s a case of misaligned incentives. If these “admissions agents” are getting kickbacks from these less selective U.S. colleges to send students there, are they representing the interest of their clients or these schools?

Parents Should Do Their Homework Before Hiring a Private College Counselor Anywhere in the World

We encourage families in China who are seeking to send their children to America’s highly selective universities to do their homework. First, while it should go without saying, if they’re looking to send their child to study in the U.S., it’s best to choose a private college counselor based in the U.S. They should then confirm that the college counseling firm is a member of the National Association for College Admission Counseling (Ivy Coach is a proud member). And then — and only then — should they start perusing that company’s website to learn more about them, their credentials, track record, and approach to the highly selective college admissions process.

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