International Student Agents: A crazy dynamic

Agents and their role in the recruitment of international students- especially Chinese students- has reached a near fever pitch with the over use of agents on one side of the scale and the denouncement of any use of agents on the other side. As usual the effective reality is somewhere in between.

Direct connections between schools and colleges and potential Chinese students are non-existent, or, weak. Chinese families desire American college and private school experiences for their student. American schools and colleges lack Chinese infrastructures and don’t understand, or control, domestic Chinese application processes.

The opening for someone to connect, and direct, the two sides is huge.

Agents and International Students

Our colleagues at Vericant brought an interesting info graphic “Agent Debate” to our attention. Agents work to fill the middle space I just laid out- connecting schools and families while working each side through the other’s processes. And therein lies the crazy dynamic of an agent.

With whom does the agent’s allegiance lie?

The agent receives compensation from the family and the school, which can give rise to an agent with most important allegiance- only to himself and his compensation. Agent is a needed role, but it’s also a role ripe with dishonesty in so many ways.

I think, though, it’s important to keep in mind that many agents work diligently and honestly. If they don’t schools and colleges would drop them like hot potatoes.

International Student & Agents

Infographic by Genius Recruiter


  • Great visual to explain this trend!  I would like to add another alternative to using agents is working with an Independent Educational Consultant.  IEC’s work directly for families and not on a commission base for any specific schools…this means the students will receive counseling that guides them towards schools that are the right fit, not towards schools from which their counselor will get a kickback.  Two great resources for finding an educational consultant are the Independent Educational Consultants Association (IECA) and the Higher Education Consultants Association (HECA)  Members of both of these organizations adhere to a Principles of Good Practice and follow ethical guidelines in their work with students.  

    Kristina Dooley
    Independent Educational Consultant
    Member: IECA & HECA

Brian Fisher

A product of both private and public education, Brian Fisher served as a teacher, coach, dorm parent, and administrator at three different boarding schools. Brian also fills the role of Director of Development at Wolfeboro, The Summer Boarding School, in NH along with being a partner at AdmissionsQuest.

More by Brian Fisher

Subscribe for email updates: