I graduated from a top public high school in my province, and at that time, there are only 30 of the graduates in my year are coming to US for colleges. In China, almost all of the high schools were public. Students need to take city-wide or province-wide entry examination to get enrolled. No application is needed and the exam scores are the only benchmark for enrollment. Similarly, after 3 years study in high school, students need to take another national college entry exam for college admission—-Gaokao. Only one 3-day long exam is offered per year, and it is highly competitive. Private high schools became popular in recent years, as more and more students are not satisfied with the public school they get in or they simply do not want to take the Gaokao. The private high school usually cost $10,000 per year, and the public ones cost less than $1,500.
4 years ago, I finished my applications to US colleges. That was my first time to know the “private college counselling” industry in China. It is a newly arose industry, benefited from the increasing number of Chinese students going aboard. As there is no specific counselor in Chinese public high schools, the need of independent counselors emerged and the industry suddenly become so popular that hundreds of education consulting firm came out. At that time, each student usually pay around $5,000 for the whole procedure of college application. Usually, a consultant, usually a native American with top US colleges’ degree, will assist students with school selection, application forms filling, essay editing and offer decision.
I went back to China every summer break and winter break, and has been worked with one of the top brand education consulting firm over 3 years until last year. That firm started in 2010, and suddenly became the leader in the industry as most consultants of the firm graduated from ivy leagues. With different experienced consultant, the price ranged from $15,000 up to $50,000. The price of service averaged around $25,000 per student. With less than 30 employees, the company is making more than 5 million a year. And the profit margin of the company is greater than 60%. Every consultant will take care of about 10 students’ applications. And usually the only working time every year are the application seasons, which starts at the beginning of summer and ends in January, when all applications are closed. The rest of year are vacation with salary for the consultants.
I was not surprised about the relatively high price service in China, until I talked with a friend here in Bucknell. He told me that most top private counseling services offered in California only cost about $3,000 maximum. However, the parents in China are always so willing to pay any education bills for their kids.
I want to write about this industry because I think there are, potentially, lots of opportunities for graduates who willing to work internationally. However, those kind of career paths could never be seen until you went to the specific country or had a friend knowing about that. I am always willing to talk more details about it if anyone is interested.