What do 2365 Chinese HS students and 28 counselors say at local fairs?


Last fall, we surveyed more than 2,000 students and 28 counselors at Sunrise’s China recruitment tours to learn more about how students in tier 2 and 3 cities in China approach the college application process and find information about universities.

Here are some of the most notable findings:

  • 40.42% rely on in-school resources, presentations, and in-school counselors for study abroad information.

  • 70.44% rely on either local internet search or social media accounts like WeChat and Weibo for important information.

  • 75.73% do not plan to work with agencies.

Some quotes from counselors:

  • “Parents are still very unfamiliar with the higher education system and western curriculum.” - Ms. Tang

  • “The status quo is that students barely know what is in an application. In most cases, high school students learn for high scores of standard tests, like SAT and TOFEL, and try to apply universities/colleges with a high ranking.” - Mr. Lu

  • “Over 80% of them were self-employed, so I would say that parents are easier to educate.” - Ms. Zhang


As in-school resources and “do it yourself” grow in popularity and traditional agencies make up less of the recruitment landscape, we recommend adapting your strategy to better capture the attention of increasingly more independent and savvy Chinese students:

  1. Direct Dialogue. Having meaningful conversations with students and school counselors broadens your applicant pool. Sunrise organizes recruitment tours every season - we invite you to join us to meet and successfully build these relationships.

  2. Direct Promotion. Social media and search engines tools are increasingly powerful and persuasive. Chinese social media platforms like WeChat and Weibo are the most popular digital engagement tools, while search engine optimization on major Chinese search engines can also drive new students to your website (bonus if you have a Chinese website!). We can help you navigate these essential apps.

  3. Direct Platform. As more international universities waive SAT or ACT requirements or begin accepting the gaokao for enrollment, we suggest platforms that make your university more visible. Our China Test Optional Initiative platform allows students to acquire specific information about your school and allows students to opt into hearing more from test-optional universities from around the world.