Book-writing Cycling College Tour along West Coast


My name: Xiaodong Zhang, independent educational consultant in Beijing, China, and a nine-year blogger since 2004.

Age: Fourty-four years old

Professional Experience: 14 years of US college admission consulting experience since 1999

Clients served: hundreds of students and parents.
College Placement

B.S. in Food Engineering (1991)  Dalian Polytechnic University
M.S. in Microbiology (1996)   Chinese Academy of Sciences

What to do: visit colleges and schools along West Coast by cycling

Period of Travel: September-November 2012
Arrival date in Seattle: September 17th, 2012
Will do shakedowns in and around Seattle for about a week.

Start from: Seattle, Washington

End at: San Diego, California

Overseas travel experience:
US travel almost every year since 1999, Canada, Mexico, Guatemala, India, Vietnam, Laos...
Every year my wife and I have a marriage anniversary honeymoon in some foreign countries.

Languages: Proficient in English, some Spanish. Was a professional English interpreter.

What is the motive of my college tour and book writing?

The truth is, a lot of Chinese students and their parents select American college and school only by referring USNEWS ranking. It is not surprising because ranking is the only easy resource they can find. They may want to select right schools, but very little information available in Chinese language. In recent years, more and more students and parents have asked for my help, they take CHOOSING A RIGHT SCHOOL as the FIRST PRIORITY rather than ranking.

As for English-proficient Chinese applicants, how to choose the right school is still a tough job. Many students ask for help from agency representing some American universities and schools. This is why there might be thousands of Chinese students crowded in a "Ranking No. XX" university or well-promoted school, meanwhile, there could be only a few Chinese students in another nice but little-known institute. There are many American colleges and schools, while students know little. Only faceless ranking or promotional propaganda does not help them. That is why some students came to me for college or boarding school transfer selection when they did not like their first American school, either choosed by themselves or by agents one year ago.

Why not attend counselor tour?

I had attended a couple of counselor college and boarding school tours in the US, however, I think it will be much better if I can slowly visit and spend more time on every place, drop in a class, eat in dining hall, sleep in student dorm, listen to a campus lecture, hang around the town, take pictures, read college newspapers and magazines, and talk with students, faculty, and local people.  All of these can help Chinese applicants know American college much better than only dumb ranking data they can get, and I can tell people much more than I do just a quick visit.

Why do I cycle?

Long-distance hiking and cycling are two best outdoor things in my mind. It goes slowly and I have learned a lot by covering every inches of land. I did 400 kilometer hiking in 2010 on Szechuan Shu Road which has over 2000 years history of plank stone road and pines. This year I will cycle West Coast, visit colleges and exercise. I may also try to hike on part of Pacific Crest Trail this time.

How do I come out the idea of writing book about college tours?

My educatioanl consulting has been reported by Beijing Youth Daily and Beijing Mirror. Then publising houses contacted me on US college application book writing. So it has been a long time for me to think about publishing a book, with interesting unique US college details and insights instead of a superfacial one with stereotyped essay samples and application tricks. Although I hope I will write a book which might be also popular in other Asian countries such as Japan, Korea, India, and Taiwan, I am not sure yet though by now. Just do it first.

I deeply believe, the success of my college visit is the success of letting more students know your college. Please provide me as much interesting information and clues as possible.

Do I request any support or sponsorship from college?

As an independent consultant, all my travel expenses will be on my own. I will write my visit objectively to introduce your college. I will not ask for money from any school. What I only request from your college is two or three nights accomodation which can help me know more about your college and town. If you school has temporary housing for visitors, I can pay for that. Of course free accomodation will be helpful and appreciated because we will do a quite long trip. However, I can pay for my accomodation on your campus. I do not want the money issue to be a barrier between your school and me.

Other things are totally optional. Your contact with other colleges and schools will let other admission people know us better and help our visit. You may reimburse some amount of money if your admission office has the budget for counselor college tour.  In addition, any amount or type of sponsorship will be appreciated. I will put your school name on my appreciation sponsorship list. It will make some good story as well. It will also be great encourage for my travel. Again, it is optional.

I hope my travel and publishing will become a win-win-win situation. Good for students and parents, good for colleges and schools, and good for me as well.  

Before my visit to your college, I will visit your college website to know your school, and look at wikipedia to know more about your city.

1, post my visit on my personal blog  
2, post my visit on 2-3 major Chinese website educaiton and travel forums
3, After finishing my travel, publish a book about West Coast college.
    It will be a good chance for your school to expose to a lot of Chinese students and readers.
4, Cross-country speech in big Chinese cities, universities, and middle schools about my cycling college tour and book. Will work with publishing houses.

[本日志由 admin 于 2012-09-06 12:37 AM 编辑]
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