U.S. Colleges Recruiting in China Results in Application Increase

February 11, 2011

The number of Chinese students at U.S. colleges increased 30% last year, partly in response to direct recruiting by colleges. How does a U.S. college evaluate a Chinese applicant? And why do Chinese applicants tend to submit glossy four-color brochures with their applications? At Grinnell College in Iowa, almost 10% of its freshman applicants this year are from China, and half of them have perfect 800s on their SAT in Math. Aside from the direct SAT comparison to U.S. high schoolers, grades for Chinese applicants tend to be lower (some attribute this to less "grading on a curve") and there is a dearth of Advanced Placement courses available. The glossy color brochures sent in by Chinese candidates – prepared for a fee on the advice of paid "advisors," and Grinnell tosses most in the garbage, unread. Essays from Chinese applicants are another tough subject, as some families are said to hire ghostwriters to prepare the essay. Balance this against the potential for a full tuition paying applicant, and you can see the dilemma that Grinnell and other colleges face, especially when the Chinese students do just as well as American-educated ones. The bottom line is that Chinese applicants are becoming a major factor in the college admissions equation, so get used to it.

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