Opening doors for international students

The university is an institution for critical inquiry and learning that has spearheaded scientific discovery and innovation, amplifying economic growth and societal advancement.

The ever-accelerating pace of globalisation and the growing connectedness and interdependence of different cultures and national economies make the university’s role all the more important. Enrolment of international students helps foster this learning revolution.

International students play a vital role at Western universities through their contributions to laboratory research, classroom discussion and campus communities.

In ever-increasing numbers, international students share their stories and diverse perspectives on campus, helping to create mutual understanding among future leaders and to lay the foundation for peace and prosperity in the 21st century.

Universities can only thrive with meritocratic standards of admission but they often unwittingly pose formidable structural barriers to potential international applicants.

For a generation some study-abroad agencies have exploited Chinese university applicants through misinformation and fraudulent practices, convincing students to pay thousands of dollars for assurances of admission that rarely materialise.

Fuelled by China’s population control policies that have created a win-at-all-costs culture for single child households, many study-abroad agencies prey on the apprehension and anxiety of applicants and their parents to close sales, sometimes even plagiarising personal statements, doctoring transcripts and test scores and manufacturing fake recommendation letters.

Unethical agents and firms have targeted China to exploit students and employ these fraudulent practices.


Chinese applicants struggle to find reliable information, helpful resources or mentors to navigate the admissions process. University admissions websites provide basic information but little actionable advice, while web forums are rife with hearsay and conflicting counsel.

Students are left with the undesirable choice of following dubious guidance from anonymous online posters or spending thousands of dollars for second-hand information from uncredentialed study-abroad agents.

These structural barriers typically benefit study-abroad agencies and the few wealthy applicants able to afford exorbitant fees.

China’s deserving students of lesser economic means are deterred and universities miss out on quality applicants and are sometimes duped into accepting under-qualified students who are unable to handle the rigours of advanced learning and English instruction. As a result, society is unable to produce the skilled and motivated graduates on the scale we need to face 21st century challenges.

There must be a better way to prepare Chinese students to successfully apply and to equip universities with the right international talent.

East meets West

ChaseFuture aims to provide an ethical and effective alternative. While a masters candidate at the University of Cambridge Judge Business School, I partnered with my classmate Han Shao to launch the initiative.

We sought to solve the aforementioned challenges by marrying the Chinese tradition of scholarship with the Western Enlightenment tradition through a mixed East-West team that respects the best from both cultures.

As social entrepreneurs, we aim to expand educational access through reliable information, useful resources and a network of compassionate mentors. Our vision is for to become the hub for students to navigate the application process, transition to university life and prepare for professional success.

Our free how-to blog and video tutorials help applicants explore their passion and build extracurricular, volunteer and professional experiences before applying.

Since ChaseFuture’s founding in September 2012, we have helped over 50,000 students apply to university using these resources. Our innovative model also pairs applicants with admissions experts from their target universities for one-on-one mentorship.

Our 125 admissions experts have now mentored more than 700 clients, many of whom are among China’s most able scholars and are published researchers, patent holders, successful entrepreneurs, national athletes, acclaimed artists and rising business and government leaders.

Our clients are determined to earn admission to top universities and pursue their personal vision but are unwilling to cut ethical corners in preparing their applications.

Two examples

Two of the first students I mentored, Sonya and Hanfeng, are representative of our typical clientele: ambitious and accomplished applicants from working-class families.

Sonya, an aspiring human rights NGO leader, aimed to prepare herself by earning an LLM degree at the London School of Economics. Hanfeng, a mountaineer and campus leader with the goal of becoming China’s foreign minister, desired a ‘top 5’ public policy masters programme in the United States.

I began by learning about their academic backgrounds and interests before discussing their professional aspirations and what they sought in a Western education. Both candidates were diligent, modest, caring, honest and creative.

Over several weeks, I helped them choose their target universities, showcase their accomplishments in a polished CV and brainstorm and refine an engaging personal statement. In many cases, we also equip applicants with strategies to prepare for standardised exams, find available scholarships and build relationships with professors.

Our approach is to prioritise people then profits so we are able to sustainably grow our organisation and impact. We always aim for long-term thinking and seek to continually invest in our people.

Our dedication to reliable information, helpful tools and compassionate mentorship has produced best-in-class admissions results for our users, including Hanfeng and Sonya, who respectively earned admission to the University of Chicago and to the London School of Economics with a £10,000 (US$16,380) scholarship.

Improving opportunities

Many international students crave the opportunity to attend premier Western universities and unlock their potential in life. But they typically lack the know-how, resources and support to succeed.

This unmet need presents both an enormous challenge and opportunity for committed providers like ChaseFuture to empower millions of students all over the world to gain access to the information, tools and mentors they need to reduce the stressful uncertainties of applying to university and transitioning to life abroad.

Improving educational opportunity and empowering youth are the great callings in my life. It is enormously inspiring to work with so many talented and similarly motivated leaders on the ChaseFuture team.

Our progress has enabled us to attract key stakeholders to build our impact, including institutional investors ChinaRock, Harbor Pacific and Innovation Camp, along with experienced angel investors with a passion for the intersection of education and technology.

As our organisation grows, we will remember our commitment to always put people first, and to relentlessly pursue our global vision with integrity.

* Greg Nance is co-founder and CEO of ChaseFuture. A Gates Cambridge Scholar at the University of Cambridge and Harry S Truman Scholar at the University of Chicago, Nance was named one of the Top 99 Foreign Policy Leaders Under 33 by the Diplomatic Courier.