Getting into a good school in the US has gotten much more difficult in recent years, for two main reasons: increased competition and increased scrutiny.
The concept of “studying abroad” has matured drastically and rapidly over the past decade as the number of Chinese applicants to Western schools witnessed tremendous increase.
According to the Institute of International Education, mainland Chinese have reshaped the international student body at U.S. colleges and universities, notably at Ivy League institutions, surpassing traditional “study abroad” heavyweights like Canada, India and South Korea, to lead international enrolment across U.S. higher education.
Similarly, boarding high schools such as Deerfield Academy, Hotchkiss School and Tabor Academy reported they’ve witnessed a tenfold growth in the number of Chinese applicants: from fewer than 20 applications in 2005 to more than an average of 200 by 2012. Putting that into perspective: if all these applicants were accepted, one third of the students at these schools would be Chinese.
This increased competition has made it necessary for schools to weed out students who are less than the very best.
Along with this ever-increasing demand to study abroad, more and more admission agencies have emerged. Although initially these agencies helped students through a complex process, over time they succumbed to pressures to deliver guarantees with no effort from student. Through unethical means, they got students accepted into top schools.
But when the students arrived, the schools were shocked – these were not reflections of the students they had seen in the essays and test scores. Many could not speak English and even those who could did not know how to communicate properly in a classroom or social setting. Their American classmates and teachers were frustrated with their inability to contribute.
Therefore, US schools began to fear the students from China. They raised lawsuit against certain oversea study agency and questioned the authenticity of their students’ test scores and applications. They took measures to screen Chinese students – and only Chinese students – much more strictly.
Seeing the growing demand of candidate verification among Western schools, companies such as InitialView, Vericant, and Zinch collaborate with Western schools to present an unedited candidate interview for evaluation beyond academics.
So, in recent years, due to stiffer competition and the new scrutiny, an increasing number of students with impressive resumes encounter failure in application to schools and dream jobs alike. High grades, stellar test scores and the normal laundry list of extra-curricular activities can no longer guarantee acceptance into top schools/universities.
The fact is that top schools are looking for well-rounded individuals, not robots with impeccable academics.