Want to Work as a College Counselor in China?

This post is current and updated regularly. Last updated as of May 2017. 

If I had a dollar for every time someone asked me about teaching English in China, I could quit my day job. Teaching English in China is great. I taught for multiple different schools and companies all over China.

That said, I think it’s important for you all to know that teaching abroad isn’t the only education-related job in China.

college counselor China

Making mooncakes with my students!

Most of you already know that I currently work as a college counselor in Beijing. Basically, my job is to help Chinese high school students apply to American universities. I have my own private office, I make a pretty decent salary, and I have lots of great benefits.

Today I’m going to talk to you about what my job entails and give you all the details on how to apply as a college counselor in China.

BONUS: My company is hiring! Want to come work with me in Beijing? If you’re interested send me your resume to richelle@adventuresaroundasia.com! 

Enreach Beijing office

My private office!

What’s Working as a College Counselor in China Like?

Personally, I prefer college counseling to my old job teaching oral English to 1,000 high schoolers. Not only am I right in the heart of Beijing’s Haidian district, I also have a higher salary, my own office, comprehensive benefits, and more quality time with my students.

I’ve met a few other college counselors in China, and every job is different. Some positions are better than others, so you’ll need to do your research before you decide to take a job. Even within my company, each office does things completely differently!

You may work for an agency or a within a high school. Some places require you to teach classes, others actually have you doing admissions paperwork. The worst places will have you writing your students’ essays for them.

college counselor China

Mooncake party with my coworker!

My Tasks as a College Counselor:

I start meeting with students in their first year of high school (year 10) all the way through the application process. In their first two years, I counsel them on things like appropriate extracurricular activities, writing an essay, tips for scoring well on the ACT and TOEFL and creating a high school resume.

In the fall I help year 12 students prepare their applications. While the Chinese college counselors actually help them pick universities and go over admissions strategies, I focus on the essays and interview prep. I help students come up with incredible topics for their common app essay that are unique to their personality and story. Then I help them edit those essays.

I never, ever, ever write essays for the kids, and I purposely leave a few “Chinglish” phrases in the essay so that the admissions officer knows the student wrote it.

College counselor job China

Students and I with the GWU summer camp admissions rep

I also help them come up with ideas for all of their supplemental essays and help the students edit those essays once they’re finished. If they have an admissions interview, the student will come to my office where we’ll do a practice interview and I’ll coach them on how to improve.

Every once and a while I’ll teach classes on things like essay writing and interviewing. We also have fun events like a dumpling making party, a mooncake party, a graduation celebration and a summer school college fair.

Again, not all offices are like mine. I have a friend who is a college counselor at a Chinese high school in Ningbo and she gives two classes a week. I have another friend in Beijing who does all of the administrative paperwork and helps kids select colleges in addition to helping with the essays and interview prep. She works with fewer students intensively, while I do fewer tasks with a larger group of students.

Want to see a day in the life of a college counselor in China? Read it here!

College counselor China

My Beijing office!

College Counselor Benefits

Working as a college counselor in China is a much cushier job than I imagined when I originally applied a few years ago. The pay is significantly higher than a typical first-time ESL teacher, with more prestige and better benefits. Unless you’re a career teacher working at a private or international school, you probably will have a much better package as a counselor.

Typical Salary:

Most jobs don’t disclose the salary up front, but the going rate seems to be 15,000-18,000 CNY per month with housing or 20,000 CNY without housing. You can definitely negotiate in this job, and expect a raise after your first year.

If you have admissions experience or significant work experience, you can expect to be paid much more.

This is a huge step up from most English teachers who are making 10,000 CNY with free housing. I actually made 5,000 CNY at my first job!

Keep in mind, some salaries are before taxes, and others are after tax, so be sure to check.

College counselor China

Halloween with my students

Housing Stipend:

Some places will provide you an apartment or a housing stipend, and others will give you nothing at all. The housing policy should be written in your contract, so be sure to look into rent prices before you sign anything. Also, keep in mind that some companies will let you keep unused housing stipend money as par of your salary while others won’t.

Vacation Time:

Since this is a year-round position, you should also expect vacation and sick days. My company has 20 vacation days per year and 5 sick days for foreign employees, as well as breaks for all Chinese holidays. You should have a week off for National Day, another week off for Chinese New Year, and a bunch of 3-day weekends.

This gives you more than enough time to go home or travel during your breaks. However, you can’t take all of this vacation at once, as the company doesn’t officially close outside of national holidays.

Debate Coach Beijing

Judging a debate tournament through my company!

Other Benefits:

Most companies will offer a round-trip flight and a free visa. My company even paid for my entire trip to Hong Kong (including the hotel and a food stipend) to get my visa. You should also have health insurance provided by the company, which may or may not be good. I have Aetna health insurance which covers 80% of hospital visits and medication, and 100% of hospital overnight stays.

Previously I had catastrophic health insurance that only covered me if I spent over a few hundred USD, which is actually hard to do unless you’re dying. Seriously, I had blood poisoning and an operation to remove sea urchin spines from my foot and I think I paid $40 USD total.

Chinese college counselor

The college counseling area

College Counseling Job Requirements

With great power comes great responsibility.

Just kidding.

I should say, with great benefits comes great expectations.

It’s super easy to get a job teaching English in China, but college counseling is a bit more selective. Most companies want a native-speaking USA citizen with a 4-year degree who went to a highly selective college in the USA. A master’s degree, teaching experience, or admissions experience is always a plus.

For example, I taught English to Chinese high school students for a year, which proves that I can work well with that age range. I also worked as a tour guide for the George Washington University when I was a student there. In my last year, I gave admissions interviews for student applicants, which was a big bonus for my current company because I’ve become the go-to interview prep person.

Finally, these companies are really worried you’ll just pick up and leave China, so the longer you’ve lived in China (or even elsewhere in Asia), the better. I’d been in China for two full years before I came to Beijing, so no one was too worried about me taking off because I hate China.

One thing you don’t need to have as a college counselor is a TEFL certificate. Congratulations!

Interested in working as a college counselor? Contact me and send me your resume!

work college counselor China

We have an espresso machine!

How to Find the Good Companies

I’ll be pretty blunt: some companies are definitely better than others. Like any job, you have to be aware of what you’re getting yourself into before you sign any contracts. But in China, it’s especially nerve-racking since you probably won’t be able to see the office in person before you sign anything. While most jobs are legitimate and have great intentions, a few are downright awful.

My biggest tip is to read, re-read, and re-re-read your contract. 

Your contract should be extremely specific, and if it’s not, have them re-write it. Dig through that thing with a fine-toothed comb and have someone you trust look it over as well.

What are the government holidays and are they paid? What is the policy on overtime? Do I pay for the apartment deposit? When will I be reimbursed for my flight? Do I get the yearly flight after a year, or can I use it sooner?

I originally felt awkward asking these kinds of questions and didn’t really have my company clarify much. While it mostly worked out for me, I wish I would’ve known I’d have to front 7,000 CNY for my apartment deposit, or that most of the apartments shown by the company are over the stipend allowance.

Unsure of what to check for?

 

ONE: See if you have a trial period. In my contract for the first three months, I received no benefits (vacation days), and the contract could be terminated with minimal notice on either end. This means I had 3 months to decide if I liked the job or not, and I could leave at any time if I decided I didn’t like it.

TWO: Clarify your role during the interview. Ask exactly what your job will entail so there are no misunderstandings. Will you be working on weekends? What is the daily schedule? How many students will you be working with? What will you be doing with them?

THREE: Ask about the structure of the company. Ask how many other counselors there are, and how many foreign staff they have. You can even ask to chat with a current employee if you want.

FOUR: Make sure your contact can’t blackmail you into staying like my first English teaching job. My school could charge me up to $8,000 USD if I left early. That is ridiculous and completely unfair if the school decides to treat your poorly. My current contract states I need to give them three months notice before I leave, which I think is pretty fair for China.

FIVE: Ask about overtime. If you work as a college counselor you will be working overtime. Are you compensated for this? Do you accumulate extra vacation days like me? How much overtime are you expected to work?

FINALLY, BE SURE TO ASK IF YOU WILL BE WRITING ESSAYS FOR THE STUDENTS. Seriously. If they so much as mention any hint of you writing stuff for students DO NOT TAKE THE JOB. You will end up writing all of the essays for all of the students and that is immoral and unethical. Don’t do it. You will hate your life and hate your job.

Zhongguancun

The Zhongguancun neighborhood where I work

Where to Find a Job as a College Counselor in China

As I previously mentioned in my How to Find a Job Teaching in China post, CRS education is a great place to find education jobs in China. This is actually where I found my current college counseling job!

Once you apply for a job, CRS will interview you and hand-select the applicants they send to the position for an additional interview. If they like you, they’ll also keep in touch and let you know about similar jobs that open up.

The only downside to CRS is that they have all sorts of education-related jobs, many of which want you to have prior experience. If you’re a few months out I suggest subscribing to their emails about new job postings and see if anything pops up that you like.

In addition to CRS education, you can also find jobs on Jing Jobs, eChinaCities, the Beijinger, or Linkedin. You can also sign up for InterNations which is great for networking.

Finally, you can email me your resume. I have a lot of contacts in China and I might be able to find you a great position here! 

College counselor in Beijing

We celebrate birthdays well

Work for My Company: CACS Enreach!

UPDATE April 2017: Enreach is still hiring for positions all across China! Email me your resume at richelle@adventuresaroundasia.com

Overall, my company is one of the good ones. They treat us fairly and pay us well. While there are sometimes cultural misunderstandings and confused expectations, overall I’m fairly happy with everything.

 

While I work for the Enreach Beijing office, there are placement options all over China in cities like Shanghai, Hangzhou, Nanjing, Ningbo, Shenzhen, and Chengdu.

If you want to find a job at my company, the quickest and most direct way is to send me an email and I’ll put you in touch with our foreign counseling recruiter. For more information on the job requirements, check out job posting #3 on my China Jobs Page!

college counselor China

Pin Me!

If you’re a native English-speaking American who attended a highly selective college in the US, definitely consider applying if you’re interested. We need someone ASAP!

Want to apply? Email me at richelle@adventuresaroundasia.com!

 

Whether you apply to work for my company or not, I want you all to know that college counseling is a real option in China. If you love working with older kids but don’t see yourself teaching classes, this is a great job for Americans abroad.

Beijing debate teacher

My students at an NSDA debate tournament

Not the Right Fit?

I know the requirements for being a college counselor are super specific, especially since we only hire Americans. However, if you’re interested in working as a drama teacher, debate coach, critical reading teacher or SAT tutor, we also have positions there as well.

There are so many education-related jobs in China that aren’t just teaching English, so be sure to check into them! There are companies like mine looking for English-language extracurricular teachers in almost everything under the sun. Want to teach art in English? Want to help kids prepare for English-language debate competitions? Want to help kids put on an English musical? There’s a place for you in China.

Are you interested in working for my company but not sure if you should apply? Feel free to email me your resume at AdventuresAroundAsia@gmail.com!

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About Richelle

Expat, traveler, and spicy food lover, I've spent the last few years living in China and traveling around Asia. In my spare time I enjoy salsa dancing, exploring night markets and stuffing my face with street food.

29 comments on “Want to Work as a College Counselor in China?

  1. Sounds like an interesting job … though I didn’t have such a good go as an English teacher, it might be time to give an opportunity like this another try!

    • You should definitely apply if you’re interested! I was a fine English teacher, but I didn’t really like most of the jobs I had. I like the deeper relationships with the students I have here, and the fact that I’m not teaching all of the time.

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  3. I’m definitely applying after the ahem–interesting experience I’ve had here in Jinan. Counseling sounds like a wonderful experience to help students, and right up my alley since Public Relations/Communications was my major!

    • Wow communications was my MA major! Yeah in my opinion counseling is definitely a step up from teaching English, especially if teaching ESL isn’t your passion.

  4. Thanks for posting this. I love everything about China, and I’m also passionate about education, but English teaching definitely wasn’t my thing. Are you guys looking to hire immediately?

  5. I’m already sorted teaching corporate professionals in Germany. My job is mixed as I used to be the Head of School and I teach as well lol! Surprisingly, even though I studied Politcal Science, I seem to have a talent for teaching so I did a Masters in Education too. Yay!

    However, I’ll share this post in case there is anyone in my network interested in movng to China.

    • That sounds really awesome! I taught business English about a year ago and I actually had a lot of fun with it. I’ve realized I prefer older students, even though I love kids. If you decide to move to China let me know!

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  18. Hey Richelle;

    I’ve sent you an email. I am very interested in this adventure :). Teaching ESL is not my passion, but counselling is.

    Jessica

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  20. I am interested in finding a job in China, but one which would allow me to bring my daughter and husband along as well. Is this compatible with your job?

    • Hey Tessa, most companies will provide spousal and child visas. It’s something you can easily work out when you’re applying for the job :D Why don’t you send me an email with your resume and I’ll see if Enreach is a good fit for you!

  21. This sounds perfect for my next job in Asia! I’m currently in Daegu, South Korea, but I lived and worked in Chongqing, China for two years before coming here. I just signed on for another year at my current school, but I will be contacting you/your company in a few months! Do you know if there are positions in Chengdu or Chongqing, or are they mainly in Shanghai/Beijing? I prefer further south and smaller cities.

    • Hey Nicole, thanks for getting in touch! We definitely have positions in other cities. I know we have locations in Shenzhen and Chengdu, as well as Ningbo, Hangzhou and more! Beijing is currently hiring, but I know there are many other options as well. Good luck and be sure to send me your resume when you’re ready!

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