Could this online tool help students get into their dream college?


After the success of an exclusive tutoring program that catered to parents with money, Pamela Donnelly decided to create a new alternative.

Donnelly, the founder and CEO of Valley Prep Tutoring, based in Los Angeles, decided to create the GATE College System, a new digital platform that gives students Ivy League-caliber college prep for a small price.

The tool, which is slated to go live in September, teaches high school students the ins and outs of the college application process, helping them gain admission to elite schools. The system comprises four sections: Grades, Applications, Testing and Essays.

Donnelly said she wants to reach more students who might not be able to afford Valley Prep through the online platform.

“We realize that edtech is a marvelous tool that is giving students equal opportunity and access,” Donnelly said in an interview with EdScoop. “Through this platform, millions of students are going to be able to identify what it takes to compete and apply for colleges.”

The GATE College System is a website accessible on any connected device. It features more than 70 helpful lessons that teach students how to enhance their study habits, prepare for the SAT or ACT exams and write college essays.

Donnelly decided to build on the success of her first program. Through Valley Prep, high school students are given personalized tutoring, face to face or through Skype, from Ivy League and other top university educators. The service offers tutoring packages ranging from $499 to nearly $25,000.

“I created a digital platform so that we could create an opportunity for students whose parents are not able to afford our one-on-one service,” she said.

The GATE College System will be available for high schools and families to purchase starting September 15. For high schools, prices will vary depending on the number of students receiving free or reduced-price lunch. For independent consumers, it will be available for $95 a month for a four-month subscription. The costs for schools will be announced next month, Donnelly said.

The site will also have a complementary app, “GATE to the SAT/ACT,” available starting September 6. It will allow students to practice a series of test questions and measure their strengths and weaknesses. Students will also have the option to upgrade the app to take a timed, 100-question practice exam that parallels either the SAT or ACT.

After the exam, kids will receive feedback. Then, with the click of a button, they will have access to sample problems to help them improve.

Officials say they believe the system will “be a solution for high school counselors who have an average of 200 to 300 students each” to help kids develop their pathways to college.

“As a mother and an educator, I saw that large percentages of students are being marginalized because no one was finding a solution that their parents could afford,” Donnelly said. “That’s why we brought GATE to the market. We believe in channeling every student’s innate potential.”

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