Maybe a new job opportunity for college graduates?


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.

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5 thoughts on “Maybe a new job opportunity for college graduates?

  1. It’s really interesting to see the difference between the college application process in different parts of the world. I was surprised to read that students are willing to pay so much money just to apply to college. I went to a public high school in the US where we had guidance counselors who were supposed to help us with the process. This was free since they were school employees, and some of them were helpful.
    Thanks for writing about this, I learned something new!

  2. I am so surprised to hear that applying to colleges is so expensive in China. The average cost of a college counselor per student being $25,000 is crazy to me! Even if some families can afford it, it does not seem right to charge this much. Maybe one day the cost of these services can be lower so that more families have the opportunity to send their children to college. I went to a public high school and never needed to pay for a college counselor because one was provided for me. I never thought of this as being such a privilege because most students took it for granted and some hired outside counselors anyways, but I think more students internationally should have this opportunity provided for them.

  3. I think the reason for this unreasonable pricing is the lack of information about colleges in US to parents and students in China. Even if students can read English, most parents are not able to have full understanding of the whole application procedure. However, most education consultant companies would not likely to translate the materials, which is their business advantages, to the public. I am personally working with my friends to build a comprehensive database of US colleges in Chinese, so that the mismatch of information problem may be solve in years.

  4. In the off-months, shouldn’t they be identifying younger students and starting to talk with them about how to be ready down the road? How about building relationships or other marketing practices to expand their client base? Such a high profit margin will attract more competitors, and I think a smart firm will be using its current position to head off competitors.

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