Do we guarantee that if our students do not get into any of their selected schools that we will provide a refund? Absolutely. Without hesitation. Thankfully, after working with more than a thousand students, we have never had to issue a refund. However, our policy is not the same as a “guarantee of admission”. In fact, any company guaranteeing that students will be admitted to one or several schools is an outright scam. In the U.S., these guarantees of admission are as preposterous to us as it would be to Chinese people if an American student were guaranteed admission to PKU or Tsinghua regardless of his/her gaokao score. Timothy Brunold, the University of Southern California’s Dean of Admission, says Chinese students need to understand that anyone promising admission to a specific American university is not offering a legitimate service. Weston Fillman, a former admissions officer at Harvard and counselor at InGenius Prep, stated that “I’ve seen hundreds of Chinese companies that ‘guarantee admission’ to U.S. schools, and without exception these companies were outright scams.” He continued: “what’s worse, if and when admissions offices discover that a student has worked with such a company – something which happens often due to the fact that these companies write essays for students which frequently have been used in previous years or even the same year – they will reject the student immediately without further consideration.” Several companies claim they can guarantee admission because of an advanced “algorithm” or dataset that they possess. If you hear those words, turn around and walk away. No such data or algorithm exists. In fact, what these companies possess is a publicly available dataset which includes only the GPA, SAT score, and hometown of applicants who are accepted to schools. According to InGenius Prep’s head statistician, Adam Adler – a graduate of Stanford and Yale Law School – algorithms centered on this data “are so simple that they possess almost no predictive value for an individual applicant.” Moreover, “anyone with a basic knowledge of statistics and programming could write such an algorithm in a matter of hours.” Indeed, according to Brian Lizzotte, a former vice-provost (vice-president) at Yale, InGenius Prep’s dataset is “the most sophisticated and extensive in the world.” This dataset includes more than 130 variables – everything from GPA and test scores to topics of the personal statement and city of origin – and tens of thousands of observations. Nonetheless, this dataset – and the algorithm built around it – is presently useful only to inform our curriculum and application strategies. By no means could this dataset be used to guarantee admission with any certainty. Other companies claim to guarantee admission because of “personal connections.” While this may seem normal to parents and families, these companies are the most obvious scams. Put simply: personal connections – especially the personal connections of an educational consultant – will not be of any help to your student or family. How do we know this? Because we have better connections to U.S. colleges and graduate schools than any company in China, and it would be impossible for us to use those connections to help our students get in. One of our co-founders had this to say: “For the last ten years my mother has helped run the alumni admissions network at a top Ivy League school. She has been nominated for the board of trustees three times. My father works in senior administration at another Ivy League school. Four members of my immediate family graduated from Cornell and Harvard Medical School. Five if you include my grandparents. When I applied to law school, one of my recommenders – a family friend – was the former Chief Academic Officer at the Harvard teaching hospitals. I can say, without question, that these connections were of no use to me. In fact, schools told me directly that they would be of no use to me. If a company tells you that they have ‘personal connections’ what they really mean is that their service is garbage, and they can only get you to sign up by lying to your face.” One final note: although “personal connections” will not help you get admitted, professional connections may. Not personal connections of your admissions consultant, but your student’s own professional connections. We have found that students who have received a letter of recommendation from professors whom they have worked with tend to fare better in the admissions process at that professor’s school. The reason is simple: a letter from a professor whom you’ve worked with tells admissions officers that the student can succeed at that college, without question. After all, succeeding at the school typically means impressing professors, right? Long story short: don’t be foolish. You might feel more secure with a “guarantee” – but really you are just playing into the hands of, at best, someone who is trying to hide their poor quality services, and at worst, a scam artist. Remember: guaranteeing admission to U.S. Schools is just as ridiculous as guaranteeing admission to Chinese Universities.