Of Smoke, Mirrors, & Educational Consultants

I continue to document and add to my rather lengthy inventory the many ways in which educational consulting companies cheat their clients and partners.  This began with an article I wrote in 12/14 for University World News entitled Walking the walk – Ethical agency-based recruitment.

cheatingHere’s one that involves an upcoming US higher education mini-fair.  It’s what I’m fond of calling the “dog and pony show” approach to pre-event marketing.  Why do it the old-fashioned way – through extensive and costly on- and offline marketing – when you can simply bribe “students” to come to your event?  It’s easy, cheap and guarantees quantity, if not quality.  You want 500 students?  No problem!  Pay 50,000 VND per student.  Psst – hey, everyone!  We’ll pay you $2.25 in cold hard cash, if you register online, come to our fair and bring a friend.   That’s $1,125 – what a bargain!

If you really wanna rock ‘n roll, you can get 1,000 “students” for $2,250!  Then you can say in your promotional materials and on your website that it’s the BIGGEST FAIR IN VIETNAM!  Tell ’em what they wanna hear.  Bigger is better and money make$ the world go round, right?!?

smoke and mirrors,jpgI don’t know how many of these students are actually interested in overseas study, especially in the USA, but they are warm bodies who will create some buzz and make the fair look “successful.”  This is one of a number of ways to artificially inflate fair attendance.  Others include busing in students, most of whom have no intention of studying overseas.  For them it’s a field trip and a chance to practice their English with unsuspecting colleagues who have not paid lots of money to travel to Vietnam and practice their English with young people who have no intention of studying in the US.

Note to recruiters:  If most of the students are wearing the same school uniform, your fair organizer has probably bused them in.  This is also a common practice among local partners who organize events for regional tours.  Keep the clients happy – at all costs!

MAA

 

 

 

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US Education Admission – By Hook or By Crook

Everyone knows of the smart kid who decided to apply “DIY” and then wasn’t accepted—and they don’t want to risk being  the next one. Unfortunately, there’s a sense in China that the honest applicants are the chumps. (What Students in China Have Taught Me About U.S. College Admissions, Terry Crawford, The Atlantic, 6.1.15)

fraudThere’s editing and then there’s EDITING.  You know, the kind when it looks like admission essays supposedly written by the same student look like they were written by two different people – one by the student him/herself and the other by a paid (native-speaker or US-educated?) “helper” with a more sophisticated mastery of the language and a much more extensive vocabulary.

Need some help with that pesky essay?  Let your fingers do the writing, copy and paste-style.  Just Google it!  From the perspective of those of us who have read our fair share of admission essays over the years it’s easy as pie to spot “enhanced” essays over the garden-variety ones.

Speaking of Google, the best thing since sliced bread and itself a double-edged sword, it’s also easy to spot language that was permanently borrowed from another source without attribution.  Enter the suspicious-looking phrase with the big words into Google’s magic search engine (or any number of sites designed to detect plagiarism), hit enter and, bingo, there’s the original source!

no cheatingAs China goes, so too, Vietnam, among other countries in Asia and elsewhere.  As the above Atlantic article makes clear, one popular way to gain a competitive edge is to cheat and deceive.  That’s a sad lesson to teach young people who end up becoming co-conspirators in their own admission process.  The silver lining is that those students who are admitted to US secondary or postsecondary education quickly discover the importance of academic honesty and the risks of academic dishonesty because it’s one of the topics covered in international student orientations is academic dishonesty, including plagiarism.  Every institution has an academic honor code and punishment is general severe for those – US and international students – caught violating this or any other aspect of it.

MAA