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30M Followers And Counting: The Influencer Tutor Behind China’s College Admissions Gold Rush

Zhang Zibiao, known as Zhang Xuefeng, has emerged as a dominant figure in China’s competitive college admissions landscape. As the South China Morning Post (SCMP) reports, the 40-year-old tutor from Heilongjiang province has amassed 30 million followers and a reported fortune of at least US$100 million.

Zhang’s influence centers on the “gaokao,” China’s college entrance exam, which saw a record 13.42 million registrants this year. His counseling service, priced between 12,000 and 17,000 yuan ($1,700-$2,300) per student, is booked through 2026.

The tutor’s success spans multiple ventures. The SCMP mentions a 2019 lecture where Zhang disclosed ownership of three companies, with one approaching an IPO expected to yield “several hundred million yuan.” He also reported substantial income from book royalties and lecturing.

Zhang’s approach to college applications emphasizes strategy over exam scores alone. His service, which has aided about 800 students in major degree subjects across 3,000 institutions, markets itself with the slogan: “A good score in gaokao is less important than a good application strategy.”

The influencer’s rise has coincided with the growth of an industry dedicated to “gaokao” application assistance, now comprising over 1,600 registered companies. Zhang’s viral 2016 lecture on choosing majors for top universities catapulted him to fame and led to television appearances.

Despite his popularity, Zhang’s career has been marked by controversy. According to the SCMP, he has faced backlash for criticizing certain universities and speaking against liberal arts majors. However, many parents view him as a “guiding light,” valuing his direct approach to explaining complex educational pathways.

Zhang’s influence extends beyond individual counseling, with his comments on various majors and their career prospects shaping public discourse on education and employment in China.

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David Adler is an entrepreneur and freelance blog post writer who enjoys writing about business, entrepreneurship, travel and the influencer marketing space.

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