Spring brings another crop of enthusiastic international education seekers from China who are eager to set their sights on education in the USA. All across the country, educational consultants are holding fairs, private meetings, and presentations in the hopes to highlight opportunities all across the world. There are all manner of services to support this massive industry such as immigration help, test prep schools, college application boot camps, and short-term exchanges. It is common for many companies to be open for business seven days a week to accommodate students of all ages and levels looking to broaden their horizons, both figuratively and literally.
A few times throughout the calendar year, Cambridge Network participates in marketing and recruitment trips side by side with our high school partners. The trips have been growing in popularity and the 12-day trip in March was the most well-attended to date. The school partners on this trip came from across the country all with a unique experience to offer students interested in the program. Attendees included principals/headmasters, teachers, guidance counselors, admissions staff, and international student coordinators – anybody who knows the distinct benefits and uniqueness each school has to offer. The timing of this trip comes off an early February Chinese New Year, a period where families ‘refocus’ their goals for the future. This is important to know since many private high schools in the United States will release their decisions for enrollment for the upcoming year at around the same; though it is not ideal to have one calendar for domestic students and another for international, knowing this can at least help you to plan for the admissions season as a whole.
The main purpose of this trip is to accomplish their international admissions goals as it relates to China; over the course of the trip, each school participated in dozens of interviews with the expressed purpose of enrollment in the upcoming school year. Cambridge Network organizes multiple meetings, sometimes more than one per day, at the offices of our agency partners where the schools can give presentations directly to students and parents, have conversations with consultants in a direct sales capacity, and host a general Q+A session. Unlike a general international education fair where there are several countries represented promoting a wide variety of programs and services, these engagements are focused and advertised with only the Cambridge partners featured.
Another stop on our trip includes a visit to public and/or private schools in China. We think this is extremely important to show the visitors what it means to study and learn in a Chinese school environment. It’s one thing to hear about the way schools operate from international students or from Cambridge staff, but it is completely eye-opening to see the methodology in action. In addition to these classroom experiences, the visits conclude with a friendly, open exchange of ideas between the American guests and their Chinese hosts. During these discussions, members talked about ways to get students thinking in different ways, the process of approaching complex academic topics, how teachers support students, and observations about how Chinese students can be better equipped upon arriving to a foreign country. What was apparent is that even though an ocean and a culture separated the two groups, both wanted the same results for the students within their respective programs.
Finally, we would have been poor guests to China if we didn’t use our downtime to take in the amazing sights of the country. In the group that I was leading, we were able to hit two Unesco World Heritage sites – The Great Wall at Mutianyu outside of Beijing and The Terra Cotta Army (also known as Mausoleum of the First Qin Emperor) outside the city of Xi’an. For most in the group, both were bucket list items that they were happy to cross off!