In many cases, according to anecdotal evidence and hard-data surveys, the successful Chinese applicants will have cheated their way into college.
There are now 57,000 Chinese undergraduates at American universities, as my colleague Tamar Lewin reports. Five years ago, there were just 10,000. And top private universities in the United States now have freshman classes with 15 percent foreign students or more.
... Many Chinese families hire agents to help them navigate the applications process, and an agent’s fee can range up to $10,000, plus an equally large bonus if the student gets into a school highly ranked by U.S. News & World Report, the QS rankings and the so-called Shanghai List.
Zinch China, a consulting company that advises American colleges and universities about China, published a report last year that found cheating on college applications to be “pervasive in China, driven by hyper-competitive parents and aggressive agents.’’
From the survey’s introduction: “Our research indicates that 90 percent of recommendation letters are fake, 70 percent of essays are not written by the applicant, and 50 percent of high school transcripts are falsified.’’
I wonder what these rates are in America? I'm not convinced Americans are that ethical about college applications anymore either.
... There might well be a cultural disconnect here. Fudging a transcript, plagiarizing a previously “successful” essay or embroidering your credentials is often seen as common practice in China — a low means to a higher end.
But not always.
Jiang Xueqin is the deputy principal of Peking University High School, one of China’s s top schools, and also directs its international division. In a commentary for The Chronicle, he said:
“To be fair, American college recruiters in China feel overwhelmed by the proliferation of cheating, lying, and fraud: Study abroad is big business in China, and young Ivy League graduates write essays for Chinese applicants while many a Chinese public school fakes transcripts and recommendation letters.’’
Singapore is an example of where the government has reduced the level of corruption among the Chinese over the last 50 years.