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Recruiting Intelligence

Why We Use Agents – Hongqian’s Reflections


Nafsa - That's a Wrap

As a seasoned admissions colleague and first time Nafsa attendee shared with me last week, “The pace of this conference is insane!” I couldn’t agree more. And if you tried to attend the Brazilian, Turkish and New Zealander’s evening receptions, well, “insane” doesn’t start to cover it.

Following all of the great conversations we had during our 3 presentations at #Nafsa15 (slides to follow next week), we must thank all of our co-presenters and the many attendees who participated, asked questions and fostered the discussions. Digital marketing is new and constantly changing. Learning how other universities have waded into this form of global marketing helps keep us all on the right track.

Following the theme we started last week with a focus on the student experience, today we get the first-hand, personal details from Hongqian Su, a Chinese student who chose to get her Master’s Degree here in the US. The student experience is critical to our understanding where and how to allocate our limited resources for the best results.

Students and Agents

Hongqian Su, from Beijing, has just completed NYU’s prestigious and rigorous master’s program in digital marketing. With degree in hand, she is now moving on from Intead’s internship program as well and heading out into the world. The story of how she came to study in the US is informative to all of us doing international recruiting and admissions work. Note the important and influential roles of her mother and her agent and her reflection on the application process now that she has earned her degree.

Intead regularly analyzes macro data sets about digital marketing and international student mobility. We also engage in small focus groups and one-on-one conversations with international students so we don’t lose our focus on the micro interactions that inform our work.

Thank you Hongqian, for all the great work you did for Intead during your internship. We will miss you while we watch your star continue to rise.  

As for you, our readers, Hongqian’s student experience is concrete and real. Read on to gain some valuable recruiting insights. We've highlighted some key marketing points to make it easy for you.           

 ~ Ben Waxman


Hongqian's Reflections

Two years ago when I was in my fourth year of college in Beijing. The people around me were asking the same questions: where will I go to university? What should I do? But I had already thought of where I wanted to go.

Going to the US was a dream of mine since I began learning about the country. But I didn’t know what school I was qualified to apply to, or what major I was going to pursue. In addition to that, the thought of writing an unbeatable personal statement, trying to get a Fortune 500 company internship and memorizing the information I needed for the GRE, made me feel lost. As the time was ticking down, the idea of finding an agent occurred to me.

It was not as easy to find an agent as I thought it would be. There are tons of agents out there in Beijing and each agent is promoting itself as being the best. Some agents approached me on campus, in the subway or even on the street.

On my own, I consulted three different agents from JJL Overseas Education, XDF Vision Overseas and an independent agent. The former two are big companies in China, working with thousands of students. I felt like a drop of water in the sea and could not get sufficient attention.

In Beijing, the client fee is approximately 35,000 RMB (~$6,000 USD). However an independent agent would be more responsible and offer “101 training” that helps students go through the whole process of application for 45,000 RMB (~$7,250 USD). My mom got in touch with them right after I had heard about them. We wanted this amount of money to be worth our while and cover everything I needed help with.

Ultimately my mom decided XDF Vision Overseas, would be our best bet while going through this process. Because they are very well known for their English education, my mom believed the company must be experienced in overseas education as well, and she was impressed with the agent she was talking to. This option worked better financially for us than using an independent agent. I was absorbed in GRE preparation at the time and thus left this decision to my mom.

The agent contract explained that the agent would take over everything I needed to do like filling out the forms online, writing personal statements, mailing the application materials, getting my college scores approved and so on. However, we found out that all of the fees that resulted from these activities were excluded from the contract. I had to pay for those in addition to the fee of 30,000 RMB.

I was lucky that one of my mom’s friends introduced us to a professor who worked in the US. This friend helped me become more familiar with how US universities select students. She explained that admissions officers don't just look at our grades. They will evaluate us from many aspects such as school activities, internships, working experience, papers and research. I started to have hope in my dream to study in the US. I had no idea how many students I was competing with, but there were things I could do to increase my chances for success.

Then I prepared to begin the application process. I was writing my personal statement in Chinese and then sent it to my agent for translation. I had to wait for almost two months to get feedback. Meanwhile I was tackling those tests, keeping up with my schoolwork and working a part-time internship.

I decided that I wanted to study marketing, and started applying. Some of the schools on my list were Emerson College, NYU, Fordham University, and Rochester University. I got offers from Emerson College and NYU and was turned down by Rochester University. Fordham University repeatedly said my materials were lacking. I ultimately chose NYU because of the city and the school’s ranking.

Now, I’m on the other side of all of that. I have finally graduated from NYU with my Master’s Degree. I have thought a lot about my application process. If I had a chance to do it again, I would not have worked with any agents. Understanding more about the process now, I wonder why I would pay someone 30,000 RMB for something that I could do myself.

The result may have been different or even better if I was taking responsibility of my own life and took responsibility for my own applications. However, now that I am in New York and my degree is on the horizon, I am still thankful for those confused and anxious days for getting me to where I am.   


Topics: Agents