Pittsburgh authorities indict 15 Chinese in college test-taking scheme

There’s really not much I can say about this. That cheating on college entrance exams has been going for a while is a long known fact. What amazes me is that it’s taken this long for the authorities to find out that this is happening. Very disturbing are the charges that students did not only cheat on getting into a university, but that “they were also cheating their way through our nation’s immigration system.” 
-Andreas Kristinus

President, EduGate
testing Prosecutors aren’t saying how many students benefited from the alleged college test-taking scheme.

By Torsten Ove / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

A group of 15 Chinese nationals in the U.S. and China schemed to have impostors take college entrance exams by using fake passports for identification in the hopes of obtaining student visas for entry to U.S. universities, federal prosecutors in Pittsburgh said Thursday.

The U.S. Attorney’s office said the defendants, including two living in Pittsburgh, defrauded Educational Testing Services and the College Board, which administer standardized tests, between 2011 and 2015 by either taking the tests for others or paying others to take the tests for them.

Prosecutors said some of the conspirators had counterfeit Chinese passports made in China and sent to the U.S., where they were used by the impostors to fool administrators into thinking they were other people before taking exams conducted in Pittsburgh and its suburbs.

The conspirators received the benefit of the impostors’ test scores on the SAT and other exams for use at American colleges, one of which is identified in the indictment as Northeastern University in Boston.

The 35-count indictment, handed up May 21 and unsealed Thursday, identifies some of the defendants as students who paid up to $6,000 for others in the U.S. to pretend to be them in taking tests, such as the SAT, at Barack Obama Academy, another testing site in Monroeville and elsewhere.

Five of the defendants are identified as test-takers, including the lead defendant, Han Tong, 24, of Pittsburgh.

Another local defendant was identified as Gong Zhang, 23, who prosecutors said received a fake passport at his address on North Craig Street in Oakland from an unidentified conspirator in China on April 1, 2013, and then used it in posing as someone else that day in taking the Test of English as a Foreign Language.

Prosecutors would not say how many students were able to get into American schools through the scheme but said the investigation is continuing.

“These students were not only cheating their way into the university, they were also cheating their way through our nation’s immigration system,” said John Kelleghan, agent in charge of Homeland Security Investigations in Philadelphia, one of the investigating agencies.

It wasn’t clear how the scheme was discovered, but U.S. Attorney David Hickton said Educational Testing Services, based in New Jersey, and the New York-based College Board have cooperated with investigators.

One example of how the scheme typically worked involved Han Tong and Siyuan Zhao, 24, of Massachusetts.

On March 9, 2012, a conspirator accessed Mr. Zhao’s ETS online account and, using Han Tong’s credit card, bought a test to be taken in Mr. Zhao’s name at a Monroeville testing site using a fake passport.

The impostor took the test, prosecutors said, and on March 19 Mr. Zhao accessed the score and had it sent electronically to Northeastern University.

Mr. Zhao was arrested Thursday in Boston and was scheduled to appear in federal court there for a hearing in which prosecutors said they would seek his detention and have him brought to Pittsburgh for trial.

The U.S. Attorney’s office said Mr. Tong and 10 others will be issued summonses to appear in U.S. District Court to face the charges.

The names of three others, all in China, remained sealed.

These are the other named defendants: Biyuan Li, 25, of Boston; Jia Song, 20, of Santa Ana, Calif.; Ning Wei, 24, of China; Songling Peng, 19, of Watertown, Wis.; Xi Fu, 26, of Portland, Ore.; Xiaojin Guo, 20, of China; Yudong Zhang, 21, of Blacksburg, Va.; Yue Zou, 20, of Blacksburg, Va.; and Yunlin Sun, 24, of Berlin, Pa., and Pittsburgh.

Torsten Ove: tove@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1510.

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Forget Harvard and Stanford. It really doesn’t matter where you go to college… Hmmm… I agree…

I have been thinking about this for quite some time now – does it really matter to the majority of students where they go to college…? Or is it the parents (as is the case with China) who want to garner the glory of their oh-so-successful child..? Let’s face it, there are way too many parents running around these days, wearing sweatshirts with the logo of their child’s school… Or is it the student who will succeed and be become happy in his/her job, who picked the school THAT IS RIGHT FOR HIM/HER..? We seem to get sucked into the “ratings war” and “connections” psycho thriller, thinking, without an ivy league education, there is no future… And yet, there are literally hundreds of good schools in the USA AND in Europe, that have a long track record of laying the foundation for some rather important and successful men and women… Yes, competition remains fierce and many will fail (China, Japan, South Korea) but only because they set their sights too high… We must educate students and parents alike that, yes, an education is super important these days, but there are solid, strong, and affordable choices left untapped – the only thing it takes is to look upon them in a humble fashion…
-Andreas Kristinus
President EduGate
March 16

In the coming weeks, college acceptances will start rolling in for a select group of high-school seniors vying to get into the three dozen or so most-selective colleges and universities in the country. Most seniors planning to go to college this fall already have been accepted somewhere, either because they applied early or they chose less-selective schools that notify applicants almost immediately of their decision.

But for those waiting to hear from Harvard, Stanford, Williams, and other elite schools, this time of year is one of high anxiety. By May we’ll hear yet again from those campuses bragging about how they set records for the number of applications they received this year and how few students they accepted — likely about one out of every 10 applicants.

For all the attention showered on these elite college and universities, however, they enroll fewer than 6 percent of U.S. college students. To put it another way, Stanford received approximately 40,000 applications last year when about 3.4 million students graduated from high school across the U.S.

The competition for getting into elite colleges seems to be getting more intense, leaving frustrated students, parents, and counselors to wonder: Does it really matter where you go to college?

It doesn’t, according to Frank Bruni. The New York Times columnist is author of a new book coming out on Tuesday, “Where You Go Is Not Who You’ll Be.

The book is a quick read for stressed-out students and their parents. In it he has plenty of examples and lengthy stories of Americans of all ages and from all walks of life who have found success without degrees from brand-name universities. Bruni points out, for instance, that among the American-born chief executives of the top 100 companies in the Fortune 500, just about 30 went to an Ivy League school or equally selective college. (Bob Iger, the CEO of Disney, graduated from my alma mater, Ithaca College, and unlike many other top executives never got an MBA).

Bruni told me last week that he decided to write the book because of the constant chatter among his friends who have kids in high school and among his nieces and nephews “all whipped up in a frenzy” over where to go to college.

“I was watching this and comparing it to my own life and the successful people I know,” he said. “I wondered if there was anything in their résumés, a uniform attendance at a few select schools, and I didn’t see it. It wasn’t the case. It was a patchwork of educational pedigrees.”

You wouldn’t know that from conversations at cocktail parties or college nights, particularly in competitive suburban and urban areas, such as Washington, D.C. and New York. There, the talk is all about how to get into the “right college.” I asked Bruni how you change that culture to persuade more of those students and their families to consider a broader array of schools.

In his opinion, the obsessive focus on elite schools begins with parents, some of whom he said are rightly concerned about launching their kids into a much more competitive world and want to give them every advantage. “I understand that motive,” he told me, “but some parents are simply trying to flatter themselves.”

In turn, guidance counselors take their cues from parents and are often evaluated, especially at private high schools, by how many of their students go to elite colleges.

Perhaps the shift away from the admissions frenzy needs to begin with employers who have long used admission to an elite school as a signal of a top job candidate. In the book, Bruni interviews a few employers and venture capitalists and also shows where recruiters say they find their best employees.

Many recruiters tell him they are much more focused on the experience of a candidate than where they went to school. And as Bruni points out when the Wall Street Journal asked recruiters the best universities for their entry-level hires, the top five were Penn State, Texas A&M, the University of Illinois, Purdue, and Arizona State. They are all brand-name schools, but they’re also public universities and hardly elite.

Bruni worries about the unintended consequences of putting so much pressure on teenagers to get admitted to a selective school. Last year, Bruni taught a course at Princeton and saw firsthand how many students view life as a series of challenges, a set of hoops to jump through, and getting into Princeton was one of them.

“A significant number of students had put so much energy into getting in, and then getting ready for the next competition, the job,” he said, “that they didn’t save their best energy and best selves for tilling the four-year experience for what it’s worth.”

A college alone doesn’t make a successful graduate. Sure, top college provides a peer network that greatly helps both while students are on campus and afterwards as alumni. But someone with grit and ambition can succeed at many different types of schools.

The reality is that if those students Bruni taught at Princeton didn’t go there, it’s likely they would have gone to another fairly selective school anyway. So they’ll do just fine. Few students who get rejected by Princeton end up at Northern Michigan University.

That’s where Howard Schultz went to college, and today he is CEO of Starbucks.

Overseas returnees struggle to find jobs in China

If so many Chinese students studying in the USA can’t find a job after returning to China, then why are we not keeping them here..!? After all, we invest a lot of time and money in educating the brightest (we hope) that china has to offer… Why, then, are so many of them returning home..? Clearly, Chinese students believe that a degree from a prestigious US or European university opens doors upon their return… Not so… So, why does the US not try everything in their/its power to retain their investment and keep it close..? For some reason, Chinese students still have not figured out that being educated in the west allows them to stay in the west… Shouldn’t USA universities be teaching them this as well..?

-Andreas Kristinus

 

More students in China can afford to pursue their studies overseas for growing incomes from the country’s economic development when being back home. While many are heading abroad, the country has also seen a rising number of overseas returnees in recent years.

According to the Ministry of Education, over 350,000 students with foreign degrees returned to China in 2013, a 30 percent surge compared with the previous year.

According to the Ministry of Education, over 350,000 students with foreign degrees returned to China in 2013, a 30 percent surge compared with the previous year. Over 91 percent of the returnees are aged between 23 and 32 with over 90 percent of them financially supported by themselves or families. Among the returning students, over 60 percent received their master’s degree, while around six percent graduated with doctorate. The ministry report says it has become more difficult for many Bachelor’s and Master’s holders to find employment due to the sheer number of these graduates.

Mr. Nie worked in China for over five years, before going to the UK to study for a Master’s degree. Now he has graduated, Nie is struggling to find a job in Britain or in China.

“Companies in Britain don’t recognize my work experience in China, and there are not many job openings because of the recession in Europe. On the other hand, competition in China is also fierce. I can’t even get my old job back.” Mr. Nie said.

Nie is not only one struggling to get a good job after studying abroad. A recent job fair in Beijing for overseas graduates attracted some 3,000 people. Many of them had to wait in a long queue just to get in.

“I took an overnight train from Zhengzhou and arrived 5 a.m. this morning just for this job fair. Before I went abroad, I thought it would be easier to find a good job as I have an overseas degree, but now I’ve been job-hunting for five months.” Overseas returnee Mr. Zhang said.

One of the reasons why these overseas returnees are struggling to find a job, is timing.

“In China, the peak season for recruitment is around Autumn, as most students in domestic universities graduate in June. I got my degree from Australia in January, so when I came back, the good positions were already taken.” Overseas returnee Mr. Sun said.

Another factor is the clash between high expectations and harsh reality.

“I want to work in an international company, because I got my degree and work experience in the US.” An overseas returnee said.

“My priority is German firms. Because I studied in Germany.” An overseas returnee said.

According to a recruitment website, almost 60 percent of overseas returnees want to work in foreign companies or joint ventures, but only around 20 percent achieve that.

“Many private enterprises are developing very fast now. And they offer more job opportunities and promotion prospects. The graduates shouldn’t pin all their hopes on foreign companies or joint ventures.” Guo Sheng, CEO of Zhaopin.com, said.

Many overseas returnees also want higher salaries because they have spent hundreds of thousands of yuan to studying abroad. For many, that seems to be an unrealistic demand.

 

http://english.cntv.cn/2014/05/12/VIDE1399849036955600.shtml

For many parents and kids, it’s ‘Harvard, Harvard, Harvard!’

EduGate faces this dilemma on a daily basis… parents simply do not understand that there are over 4,000 colleges in the USA and that Havard is most definitely NOT the best school for their child… it seems that educating the parents is more important than educating the students… albeit, both are blinded by the reputation that precedes Harvard and unfortunately they miss the big picture… on any given day in beijing, i find more students at a starbucks desiring to go to harvard than of students actually getting accepted… yet, i strongly believe this attitude will change in a few years and parents will be open to let their child decide on their own which uni to attend…

for all those students that are looking to find the right school for them, edugate offers summer english learning programs (for credit) extension programs, and assistance with conditional/direct admission and gateway (no TOEFL or SAT required)…

http://www.edugate.us

They are among the top schools in the Ivy League. Yale University took one student.

Yale and Princeton University accepted two other students, a brother and sister.

Other than getting into some of the most sought after universities in the United States, what the three had in common was that their parents are Chinese, all had done extensive prep work to get into their dream college, and all three rejected those universities for the school they really wanted – Harvard University.

“Chinese parents only know Harvard, Harvard, Harvard,” said the owner of a small, private tutoring service that helps children from low-income Chinese families prepare for various college standardized tests, like the SATs and the SAT subject tests. “Parents come to me and say, ‘Our child must get into Harvard. They must get into Harvard, we don’t want them to go anywhere else,” said the owner, who declined to be named.

She has been working with high school students for nearly a decade, hiring teachers to help classes of 15 to 20 students prepare for the SAT exams. Most of the students that attend the SAT classes in Brooklyn began preparing as early as their freshman year of high school.

“Particularly for the Chinese who come to the United States, it’s only Harvard. It’s as if there are no good schools other than Harvard,” she said. “I tell these parents, there are so many good schools in the US, but they don’t even know schools like Dartmouth or Vanderbilt. Obsessing over Harvard is almost a Chinese tradition now.”

Some trace that obsession back to 2000 when Harvard University and Liu Yiting became household names across China after Liu’s parents published a book chronicling how their parenting style led to their daughter’s admission to Harvard. “Harvard Girl” sold millions of copies in China and detailed Liu’s disciplined upbringing and how she became one of the first Chinese undergraduates to attend Harvard on a full scholarship.

The book led to many copycat titles, with different parents trying their hand at detailing their own parenting styles and how it led to their childrens’ admissions to other prestigious higher education institutions.

Bev Taylor, the founder of college counseling service The Ivy Coach, works with parents and their children to get them into the schools of their choice. She helped the family whose daughter and son were accepted by Yale and Princeton.

“They weren’t done. They wanted Harvard. Why it was Harvard? I don’t know. What’s wrong with Princeton, what’s wrong with Yale? And why would you go through that? What’s so different?” she said. “A lot of it is bragging rights so mommy and daddy can say they have one kid at Harvard and one kid at Princeton, instead of saying they have two kids at Princeton.”

Taylor said that about 85 percent of her clients are Chinese and Indian. They pay $995 an hour for Ivy Coach’s services, which range from helping with personal essays to reviewing applications to see where students can improve them and make them stand out.

Billie Wei, who almost finishes up with her first year at Harvard, went to Ivy Prep, one of the most well-known Chinese cram schools in New York.

As for her turning down Yale, “she just couldn’t let go of the reputation of Harvard,” said her father, who said going to the school was her decision.

There are 722 students from China studying across all of Harvard’s colleges, more than 300 of whom go to the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, with the rest in undergraduate and other graduate programs.

“The number of students from China studying across Harvard University has increased significantly in recent decades,” said Jeff Neal, director of communications at Harvard.

The number of students from China attending Harvard has increased threefold since the mid-1990s, according to the school.

Harvard doesn’t break down applicants by country, but Neal said that the number of applicants from China to the undergraduate program has also grown during that time period, “though at a much slower rate”.

amyhe@chinadailyusa.com

More Chinese students want a US education, but fewer stay for a job

This article points to some of the weaknesses on display in keeping Chinese students in the US upon completion of their studies… This phenomena is noting new… If it were not for these students, US universities would be “empty…” Let’s face it, most US students either cannot afford the high cost of education or are unaware that a college or university education is available to them… Yes, the quality of Chinese students studying at US universities has improved over the years… No longer are US universities accepting Chinese students simply to fill a “quota” or to boost their international programs with mediocre students from China… Chinese students forgoing the “gao kao” know that they will never study in China… They have chosen the US for their college education… Yet, upon completion of a BA or MA, they return home…

Can the US afford to let them go..? What can we do to keep our “investment” here, the place where their new acquired knowledge and experience can be best put to use..?

-Andreas Kristinus, EduGate

 

At the peak of the Cultural Revolution, it would have been impossible to envision a mass exodus of Chinese-educated youth to universities in the United States, where capitalism reigned supreme.

Fast forward to today, and many Chinese students skip local university entrance exams and apply to American colleges, which leave no stone unturned in recruiting them. The factors behind the change have as much to do with shifts in financial power as with the emphasis on diversity touted by the universities.

In 2007, 140,000 students from China went abroad for higher education. In 2012, about 400,000 studied abroad, 95 per cent of whom were self-sponsored, according to figures from the Chinese Ministry of Education. Nearly half decided to go to the US; Australia and the UK are the second and third most popular destinations respectively.

The growth in Chinese students pursuing studies in the US has been exponential during the past decade: China sent 60,000 students to the US in 2000, almost all graduate students sponsored by the government; in 2012, 194,000 Chinese students went to the US, with most of the growth coming from self-funded undergraduate students.

Overall, China started to lead all nations in sending students to US universities in 2008. Today, it sends five times more students to US institutions than the second-largest source, according to US State Department statistics.

Chinese students are choosing the US over other developed countries because of familiarity with US brands. “The main reason the US is more popular is simply because there is a greater choice of recognised brands … and many more universities in total,” says William Vanbergen, who runs a chain of admissions consulting offices and international schools in China. “Australia is only considered by people with less disposable income or those aiming for immigration,” he adds, alluding to Australia’s open immigration policies.

Chinese students also prefer the US because the universities offer more academic choices. In the UK, students are generally expected to choose a major at enrolment and stay focused on it during the course of the programme. In the US, on the other hand, most allow students to pick a major at the end of the first or second year.

For their part, US universities are working hard to maximise their share of paying Chinese students. Recruiters understand that despite the recent growth, the number is a fraction of the 10 million students who take the entrance exam for Chinese universities every year. They also understand that an ever-increasing proportion of Chinese families have a higher purchasing power.

The need to penetrate the Chinese student market has been further exacerbated by the financial crisis and budget cuts at home. Some of the largest increases in foreign students are seen at public universities with severe funding cuts by state legislatures.

Public universities are particularly eager in welcoming foreign students, who lend international cachet and can also be charged higher out-of-state tuition. Like out-of-state US residents, international students pay twice as much as in-state residents.

Non-resident domestic students could fill these seats too, though universities do not see why they should be given preference. As Michael K. Young, president of the University of Washington, told The New York Times: “Is there any advantage to our taking a kid from California versus a kid from China? You’d have to convince me, because the world isn’t divided the way it used to be.”

Instead, foreign students are seen as assets who can help prepare local students for a highly connected world.

The US attracts huge numbers of foreign students, but with stringent caps on work visas, does not take advantage of these trained individuals in the workplace. So perhaps it works best for all that the latest cohort of Chinese students no longer yearns to work in the US.

Having immersed themselves in English language and American culture, the students take advantage of increasing opportunities at home. For decades, the rate of return to China remained low as students with advanced degrees did not see opportunities for research at home. Last year, more than 272,000 Chinese returned after completing their education abroad, 86,700 more than in 2011; a 46 per cent increase, according to the Ministry of Education.

Collectively, these students hold the key to transforming China. “This is where the action is,” Vanbergen concluded. “There is a huge shortage of bilingual, bicultural talent required to take China into the next stage of development from an export-based to a domestic consumption-based economy. Students with these backgrounds are ideally positioned to fill this demand.”

Hassan Siddiq studied grand strategy at Yale College and is the founder of www.dailythem.es, a peer-to-peer community focused on writing better. Reprinted with permission from YaleGlobal Online.http://yaleglobal.yale.edu

 
This article appeared in the South China Morning Post print edition as More Chinese students want a US education, but fewer stay for a job

Schools flush out cheating Chinese students

 

At EduGate, we sit down with our applicants to make sure they are who they say they are. In addition, we visit them at their university after they have gotten accepted to ensure they are on track academically. Anything less, and we would not be doing our job right.

 
 
Overseas education authorities are tightening up on the review process for high school and university applicants coming from China, after concerns have been voiced over Chinese students cheating on their submissions. 

“Like many other schools, one of our main jobs now is to examine the credibility of the materials submitted by students,” Elton Wen, China manager for State University of New York (SUNY), said at the China Educational Expo 2013 in Beijing last week, which was attended by 80 US high schools and universities looking to promote their schools to Chinese students and parents.

Chinese students cheating on their applications to study at US schools has become a bigger issue in recent years, according to Tom Melcher, former chairman of Zinch China, an education consultancy that helps Chinese students study abroad. 

Since 2011, Melcher has exposed Chinese students getting around overseas schools’ high requirements by faking their academic transcripts, hiring ghostwriters for their essays and cheating on their Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) exams, which Chinese students are required to take if they want to study in an English-speaking country.

Sneaky methods  

According to Wen, Chinese students often try to cheat the system by modifying their transcripts, sometimes even with the help of their high schools.

“When we get an application from a student with extremely high grades, we have to check their academic backgrounds carefully, and sometimes the student is asked to prove himself or herself by sitting through an interview or making a personal statement,” Wen told the Global Times.

But Wen said that the purpose of such scrutiny is not to prevent Chinese students from studying at reputable schools abroad, but to help them make rational choices. 

Those who cheat to get into universities, but are not caught until after enrollment, are in most cases forced to transfer programs or schools, or even drop out altogether without the chance to conclude their studies, he said. 

TOEFL exam proctors, too, have seen added creativity from cheating Chinese students recently. Some examinees have gone through serious lengths to get higher scores, even hiring qualified lookalikes to sit their exams for them. 

At Kansas State University for example, some Chinese students who have shown up for class in recent years have not matched the security photos taken of them when they supposedly took their TOEFL exams months earlier, according to Melcher.

Risky business

Students who are caught cheating on their TOEFL tests are barred from retaking the exam until passing a three, six or 12-month period, depending on the severity of their case. 

But despite the severe penalties, Chinese students desperate to get into a prestigious school abroad are still willing to take the risk, said a consultant surnamed Wu, who runs a website that helps Chinese students prepare for TOEFL exams.

He admitted to the Global Times that fierce competition and increasing pressure are driving more Chinese students to cheat, but said that at the heart of the problem is a greater systemic issue in China.

“China’s credit system is not well-built; the cost of cheating is low, but the potential reward is enormous,” said Wu.

“A bit of cheating can totally change a student’s life, and even if they’re punished, the penalty often has little influence on their record or future when they return to China.”

Global Times | 2013-11-12 20:13:01 
By Global Times

EduGate Offers Saint Louis University Summer Immersion Program for International Students

Here is another great opportunity for Chinese students to be gaining insights into university life and learning more about what is required to gain entrance into a U.S. university. EduGate is happy to be promoting this excellent program.

ABOUT THE PROGRAM

Saint Louis University invites international students 16 to 18 years of age to participate in the Summer Immersion Program. During this three-week program, students live on campus at Saint Louis University, take a college credit course, and participate in various cultural events. Download your copy of this year’s schedule by clicking on the box to your right.

COURSE INFORMATION
The course is designed to provide a foundation for cross-cultural understanding and enrichment.

MLNG 193 Hollywood & History
Using a central content theme based on the exploration of media images, cultural history, folklore, and sites within the Missouri and Illinois region, the program will work on strengthening key English language skills. The cultural history component consists of discussion and lecture courses on “Hollywood and History” and “Cultural Narratives,” in which local events and historical figures are examined in the context of overall U.S. culture and history. The classes are linked to a media communication component, which looks at the relationship between movies, TV narratives, and actual events as documented in a variety of media.

COST
The cost of the program is US $2,800, which includes course tuition, housing, meals, and all scheduled events and activities.

IMMIGRATION INFORMATION 
If you would like to attend the program, you will need an I-20 that indicates the program dates.  Once you have registered for the program an I-20 document will be sent to you.

UC Davis offering Summer College Credit Program Course

EduGate just confirmed that UC Davis (University of California, Davis) will be offering a credit course “How to Succeed in U.S. Colleges and Universities” that will more than likely become available this summer.  It can be worked around a program, so it does not have fixed dates.

It will be a two credit course that can count towards student’s electives.  Ultimately, as with any transfer of credits, it is up to the academic institution to accept.

We can incorporate it into any of the custom programs that are 2-4 weeks in length, and is basically an in-depth college preparation course with time management, study skills, and other helpful resources for future undergraduates studying in the U.S.
Please let me know if you are interested…