How Rich Chinese Parents Get Their Kids Into U.S. Colleges

This is the title of a new article by Amy Hawkins in Foreign Policy.


Like most companies interviewed for this article, Jiazhou insisted that its tutors are not ghostwriters.

Other companies are less scrupulous. Yingtai Education, based in Xi’an, charges up to 100,000 RMB ($14,900) for a package of services that includes selecting appropriate schools, preparing a study plan, suggesting extracurricular activities, and “guidance about [personal statements].”

Yingtai tells students what to emphasize in their personal statements and, a spokesperson said, “sometimes for the very lazy student we [have] to help [them] to compose.” Yingtai doesn’t charge an additional fee for cases where ghostwriting is deemed necessary, because for such students, “sometimes teaching and giving guidance is more time-consuming.”

“It’s a real shame,” said Nini Suet, founder and CEO of Shang Learning, an education consultancy. She said that “unethical behavior is still pretty rampant” in the education industry, and that many parents expect ghostwriting as standard.

Shang Learning is a member of the Independent Educational Consultants Association, which requires adherence to strict ethical standards, but she admits that some parents “flip out” when her company refuses to produce fraudulent essays for their children.

How USA college admission works:

1. First you get sorted.

Scholarship athletes.

Monied and powerful/connected.


Pulled out first.

2. Then by race. Chinese nationals are put into one pile, to compete against each other.

3. Then they sort.

Grades in hard courses (AP, IB) and SAT = 70%. Colleges go to great pains to obscure precisely how this works.

The remaining 30%…

Demonstrated interest / good interview

Essay – half for writing quality, half for content

Recommendations from teachers


4. So the personal essay is roughly 8% of that decision. For American students.


What most people don’t realize

College admissions officials realize how pervasive the paid advisers are in China, compared to the US. It’s their former colleagues actually providing these services to Chinese students!

So of course they discount the importance of the essay. My estimate is that the essay for Chinese nationals might count only 3%.

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