Colleges pay recruiters to bring in foreign students

Small colleges are paying recruiters to bring in foreign students who’ll pay full tuition. It’s illegal to pay U.S. recruiters, but not those based overseas.

Houston Community College has opened an overseas campus that some call Crazy College of Qatar.

Wanted: full-pay and foreign students

Full-pay and foreign students are a lucrative target for colleges and universities. International students with F-1 visas will pay premium prices to study in the U.S.

Also on Community College Spotlight:  The cheapest path to a bachelor’s degree is to start at community college and live at home. But is too risky?

Public schools woo foreign students

With enrollment and revenues declining, public high schools are recruiting tuition-paying foreign students, reports AP.  Most foreign students come from China, perfect their English and apply to U.S. universities.

In Millinocket, Maine, Superintendent Ken Smith is seeking 60 or more Chinese students — each paying $13,000 in tuition and another $11,000 for room and board — to fill empty classes at Stearns High School. Stearns once enrolled nearly 700 students; this year, there were less than 200.

Local students will benefit by being exposed to those from abroad, and Chinese students will gain from being immersed in the local culture, he said.

Students in Shanghai, Beijing and Fuzhou “didn’t know where Maine was, but they knew where Harvard was,” Smith said. “They all want to go to Harvard.”

Arizona, Arkansas, California, Florida, Illinois, Massachusetts, Ohio, Virginia and Washington schools are recruiting overseas, AP reports.

In remote Newcomb, N.Y., the high school this year took in nine international students — three from Russia, two from France, two from Vietnam, and one from Korea — who pay $3,500 each for tuition and another $3,500 to live with a host family. The school is bringing in foreign students not just for revenue, but also to keep its numbers up — it has only 34 students this year — and expose its students to other cultures, said Principal Skip Hults.

“We felt like our high school was becoming too small, both socially and academically,” Hults said.

Lei Huang, 16, from Shanghai, is attending Camden Hills high school in Rockport, Maine.

Schools in China, he said, demand long days in the classroom and long nights doing homework, with an emphasis on memorization and testing. In Camden, he appreciates the emphasis on creativity and tapping into students’ interests.

Outside of school, he likes being able to drink water out of the tap, the abundance of trees and time to participate on the high school ski team.

Foreign students can attend public schools for only one year because of visa regulations. Lei plans to attend a private school next year. He hopes to go on to MIT.

Bad risks, cash cows

On Community College Spotlight:  Long-term default rates on student loans are high: 31 percent of community college students default on their loans.  Also, crowded community colleges cash in on foreign students. And an LA Times columnist objects to outsourcing community college classes to the for-profit sector.

The work-ethic and knowledge gap

Most American students are lazy and lack basic knowledge, writes Kara Miller, a Babson College professor of rhetoric and history, in the Boston Globe.

My “C,’’ “D,’’ and “F’’ students this semester are almost exclusively American, while my students from India, China, and Latin America have – despite language barriers – generally written solid papers, excelled on exams, and become valuable class participants.

One girl from Shanghai became a fixture at office hours, embraced our college writing center, and incessantly e-mailed me questions about her evolving papers. Her English is still mediocre: she frequently puts “the’’ everywhere (as in “the leader supported the feminism and the environmentalism’’) and confuses “his’’ and “her.’’ But that didn’t stop her from doing rewrite after rewrite, tirelessly trying to improve both structure and grammar.

Undergrads from China have the strongest work ethic, Miller writes, but she’s also been impressed by students from India, Thailand, Brazil, and Venezuela. They struggle with English, but they’re carried forward by their respect for professors and for knowledge.

By contrast, many of her American students “appear tired and disengaged.”  While the best U.S. students are knowledgeable and innovative, too many lack the basics.   “We’ve got a knowledge gap, spurred by a work-ethic gap,” Miller writes.