At the risk of seeming a misanthropic nationalist, you can wonder with honest curiosity and amazement how the College of Lake County has a worldwide recruiting mission to acquire foreign students.
Highland Park? Nah! We're road-tripping to Bangkok.
Officials at CLC explain the logic in slow, patient, quiet tones — the way you share complexities with intellectually dim relatives. Sure, there might be several thousand Lake County teens every year who would benefit from CLC's education, because it's better than sitting in their parents' basement commiserating over the Internet with other juvenile underemployables.
Theoretically, CLC came into existence as a public institution only to serve those students and the local communities those students inhabit. The people of Lake County — as well as the people of Illinois — pay for it on that premise.
In the non-zero-sum universe where competition produces cultural victory for both sides, any benefit is usually better than nothing. So as long as CLC serves as a local community college, its social asset is affirmed.
On the other hand, a recruiting visit to China is probably more intellectually stimulating than a road trip to McHenry County. So CLC has joined the parade to far-off lands in search of students and money, which in this realm are the same things.
Teens in China, Vietnam, Thailand and Ukraine — apparently about 120 or so a semester at CLC — want college degrees and their parents to deliver cash, because we send most of our money there for Wal-Mart merchandise.
But apparently finding candidates with money or the willingness to acquire debt is harder in Antioch, Deer Park and North Chicago than it is Hanoi.
About 50 of the college's international students are Asia imports, down from 80 in fall 2012, according to the college's data.
Apparently, Grayslake is very big in Vietnam.
CLC spends $300,000 a year to run its Center for International Education. With about 120 international students on campus, the kids' families spent $600,000 on tuition this semester. A typical family in South Korea probably believes it's receiving a fabulous deal in this exchange.
A visitor to our fair shores pays nearly $5,000 per 12-credit semester compared to just over $1,300 for a local student. If they ever find out, it will become another reason why they hate us. Maybe it would be cheaper for their kids to become U.S. citizens and grab the hometown discount.
CLC at least seems to have managed its recruiting force as an in-house initiative. Other colleges that hired come-hither salesmen have sunk into ethical quagmires. Professional college headhunters overseas often get paid 15 percent of a foreign student's first-year tuition for delivering a warm body to the United States.
The obvious chance of fraud in that transaction is why the practice of hiring commissioned headhunters for American students was outlawed 20 years ago.
But whatever the process, foreign students are flooding the nation — 1.13 million, according to a report by the Department of Homeland Security. That's a 14 percent increase over last year, nearly 50 percent more than in 2010 and 85 percent more than in 2005.
There are rich parents everywhere.
If we can counsel them into stretching their visas for four years, we'll get $40,000 per head, and then they'll earn the right to move to DeKalb or Carbondale.
As for CLC's establishment, the industry of recruiting certainly has its benefits. You always could sign up for the Annual Cheese Curd Tour of Wisconsin and broaden your cultural horizons with cholesterol immersion.
But what if you can rustle up $8,700 to instead send the top CLC brass to China and Bahrain?
The $4,900 to send the college president and his entourage to Seoul, South Korea; Las Vegas; and Newport Beach, Calif., is something of a head-scratcher. Probably more fun and productive than a weekend in Rockford.
The school spent $8,700 to dispatch its international recruiter twice to Florida and once to Germany. Both are foreign countries.
So, if you didn't know you helped pay for someone else's trips around the world, now you do.
Personally, we would have held out for a freebie trip to Tahiti, because the sunsets there are terrific.
David Rutter was an editor for 40 years at six newspapers.