In the news: Chinese students looking for the elite American boarding school experience, Marvelwood School, a U.S. boarding school, said to be disillusioned

‘We’ll Send You Kids’

Oliverian School[7] in Haverhill, New Hampshire, which serves students who struggled in traditional schools, is interested in recruiting similar teenagers from China, headmaster emeritus Barclay Mackinnon said. When Mackinnon urged agents in China to tell families about Oliverian’s niche, he “got the sense they just weren’t hearing me,” he said. “They just wanted to know, ’Will you take kids? We’ll send you kids.’”

The National Association for College Admission Counseling[8], an Arlington, Virginia, nonprofit group whose members include colleges and high schools, wants to clean up recruiting of international students. It announced in July that it will appoint a commission to set ethical standards and consider alternatives to incentive-based compensation for agents abroad. Colleges are prohibited from paying incentives to recruit U.S. students who qualify for federal financial aid. While American schools use agents worldwide, the practice is especially common in China because agents are ingrained in its culture, said David Hawkins, NACAC director of public policy and research.

‘Bottom Line’

Schools should be “forthright” with Chinese parents about the makeup of their student bodies, said Paul Miller[9], director of global initiatives for the National Association of Independent Schools[10], a Washington-based group representing 1,400 private schools, including Marvelwood. “We’re not in favor of schools filling their rolls with full-paying international students if the only motivation is the bottom line.”

At the Knox School in Nissequogue, New York, 55 percent of the 140 students come from China. They pay almost $55,000 the first year, including $9,600 for English as a second language and $1,800 for orientation. The ESL fee is justified because classes are smaller, and price isn’t an issue because China has a lot of multimillionaires, headmaster George Allison said.

Cheshire Academy in Cheshire, Connecticut[11], increased its Chinese population to 102 of its 210 boarders in the past academic year, up from five in 2008-09, said Alan Whittemore, its international admission coordinator.

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