If you are planning to apply to any US college, you will most likely be requested to send a copy of your high school or college transcript (if you are applying as a transfer student) before a college will provide you an admission decision. Some colleges will request that you have transcripts sent from your high school or college directly to the admissions office. Others will want official transcripts issued from the Education Ministry. Many colleges will also ask for translations of your transcripts, so you will be required to hire a third party translators or ask for the English translations directly from the Education Ministry. Rarely will a college accept your own translation. This situation is quite similar with the case when you have to authenticate your foreign college degree before applying for a job.
You have a variety of choices, but look at the requirements of all the colleges you are interested applying to for admission and see if there are specific requirements. While many websites provide basic requirement information, it is best to look specifically at international student section of the college’s website.
Almost one quarter (1/4) of the US colleges require the use of World Education Services (WES) transcript evaluation services. This service requires that you ask one of the Ministry authorized verification offices, either the China Academic degrees & Graduate Education Development Center (CDGDC) or the China Higher Education Student Information & Career Center (CHESICC), to send your transcripts to the WES offices. You can find specific instructions in Chinese at the www.wes.org site. You will have to pay the fees for WES services as well as the services of the Chinese verification office. Ask for English version of the transcripts to reduce your translation costs and try to apply several weeks, preferably four or five weeks, in advance as it will take time for documents to travel to WES offices from China and then for WES to evaluate your transcripts before sending a report to the college of your choice. See if any of these colleges are AccessWES colleges (there is a list on the WES website)because AccessWES colleges will get the WES evaluation on the same day ( or next day) that an evaluation is completed.
If you are applying to more than one US colleges, check to see if all your colleges will accept the WES evaluation with copies of your transcripts. If they do, purchase an ICAP evaluation package so that you can store your transcripts and evaluation at WES. The ICAP package will allow you to send copies of stored transcripts and evaluations from WES to your college admissions offices for a nominal fee for each set of documents rather than requesting your documents from China each time. This will save you time and money.
Of course, not every college will accept WES evaluations. Other evaluation services are identified at www.naces.org or may be specifically identified by a college on their website.
Our advice – plan ahead as very rarely will colleges make an admissions decision without having your transcripts. Allow plenty of time (6-8 weeks if possible) to get documents to college admissions offices and remember that the translation of documents may take even longer and be more expensive.
Betty Wong was deputy executive director at WES before leaving and starting Intro America Inc.