Vericant Providing Local Third-Party Interview Services for Students Applying to Private US High Schools
Editor’s note: Vericant is a China-based third-party, independent interview service that adds verified data through video interviews and writing samples. For more information, visit their website at www.vericant.com.
American author Kurt Vonnegut once wrote, ” High school is closer to the core of the American experience than anything else I can think of.” In a variety of ways, high school has an even greater influence upon an individual’s personality than does college. As study abroad has increased in popularity, the average age of study abroad students has been falling, and more Chinese families are choosing to let their children study in the United States during high school. Aiming at this market, Vericant is an organization providing local third-party interview services for private US high schools.
Vericant was founded at the end of 2010, its four co-founders having met through playing ultimate frisbee in Beijing. Before we discuss what services Vericant provides, we should mention something else: Vericant is not an agency, nor is it an educational consultancy. As co-founder Kelly Yang told me, Vericant started off as an organization that brought Chinese families to the United States to help students conduct school visits. Since too many people thought the organization was an agency, they had no choice but to change their model.
It’s easy to explain Vericant’s services. They have exclusive partnerships with private high schools in the United States and Canada, and students applying to those schools can take part in a video interview through their services. Once completed, the interview is sent to the schools to review. The form of the interview is a fairly casual conversation of about 10 minutes in length, and Vericant does not tell students in advance what questions will be asked. The final question of the interview is asked in Chinese, showing students in their normal state without any linguistic barriers. Additionally, applicants are asked to complete a thirty-minute written essay that is also sent to schools. Vericant has currently set up testing locations in Beijing, Shanghai, and Shenzhen.
Why do US high schools need this type of service? There are two main reasons. First, applicants from China often come through agencies, and it’s fairly common for these agencies to produce falsified application materials. There’s no possibility of fraud in these interviews; Vericant uses National ID cards and passports to verify the identities of interviewees. The second reason is that US high schools place great value in certain factors outside of grades and test scores, and these interviews are a way to measure an individual’s overall abilities.
Vericant received a a round of capital investment in 2011, and the company’s next step is to enter the college market. According to their estimates, China currently has around 7000 students applying to US high schools every year, so the college market will be quite large in comparison.
But if Vericant wants to enter the college applicant market, they’ll face competitors in the space who have already gained some ground. This includes InitialView, a company we have previously reported on. There are two major differences between Vericant and InitialView. First is the fact that Vericant conducts mainly interviews for high school applicants, while InitialView specializes in college and job applicant interviews. The more important difference, however, is the nature of the cooperative agreements with schools. According to co-founder Kelly, Vericant currently has exclusive partnership agreements with 35 high schools, though InitialView has non-exclusive agreements with the colleges it works with. Vericant charges a RMB 2499 interview service fee that allows applicants to send their materials to any number of partner schools. InitialView charges RMB 600 for an interview. Kelly said that Vericant is considering adjusting their current service fee system from a flat fee to a per-school fee.
Aside from modifying its interview services, Vericant must take another look at its school partnerships if it enters the college applicant market. Whether public or private, the vast majority of US colleges and universities are non-profit organizations, and are unwilling to sign exclusive cooperative agreements with third-party service providers. Kelly revealed that although Vericant has not formally entered the college market, Claremont McKenna has already proactively requested a partnership with the company. This partnership is non-exclusive, and Vericant is one of several interview methods from which applicants are allowed to choose.
Date of Publication: 3/11/2013