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GATE College System for Homeschool Review by Kym ThorpePamela Donnelly, Founder and CEO
GATE College System
3500 West Olive Ave, Suite 3000
Burbank, CA 91505
The GATE College System is an interactive online college admissions tool created by Founder Pamela Donnelly and a team of 26 educators. Together they put their expertise in college counseling, GPA support and test prep into a digital system to help high schoolers learn effectively, get accepted into college, and earn financial aid. GATE’s mission is to equalize access to college admissions and financial aid. The GATE platform helps students and their parents get a good handle on test prep, understanding financial aid, effective strategies for college acceptance, and it even guides students in college selection.
Designed especially for homeschooled students, GATE for Homeschool brings these same step-by-step tools to the homeschool community. College-bound homeschool students can follow the road map to ease their confusion and anxiety and help them get competitive scores on the ACT and SAT exams, as well as guide them through admissions and essays and financial aid. It’s designed to be used over four years, but because it’s modular, it can be easily adapted so students can benefit even if they start using it partway through their high school years.
GATE is a self-paced, modular, online guide that can be accessed on any digital device. A parent dashboard allows the parent to act as facilitator and view their student’s progress through the system. The student dashboard has a place to keep track of practice test scores and college lists, and has access to all the interactive components of GATE. Each letter of GATE stands for a different module in the system. G is for Grades, and this section is where students can learn how to assess their own learning styles and preferences, and how to leverage that information to help them learn, study, and memorize most effectively. There’s also a section for studying Greek and Latin roots to help students improve their vocabulary in preparation for exams. In the A module, students will learn all about College Applications. They’ll understand the admissions committee and college terminology; they’ll be able to optimize the college application; and they’ll get practical help in determining majors, minors, and academic focus. There’s also an interactive tool to help them work on their own list of possible colleges. In T, for Testing, students can use the GATE to the SAT/ACT mobile app to give them strategies and practice to ace those tests. And in E for Essays, students will find plenty of help in showcasing themselves and their writing skills in their essays. Each of the modules includes text, interactive components, colorful graphics, videos, and is presented with humor and an encouraging tone that makes it fun for students to work through.
My daughter, a junior, has been using GATE for about a month, and has been focusing on the Grades section. She enjoyed the humorous presentation of information in the videos, and the insight she gained from learning about and assessing her own learning styles and preferred study environments. She hasn’t yet written a college entrance exam, but is already more confident that she’ll be able to do a good job of it, thanks to the vocabulary study helps and the practice tests that help her know what to expect. Using the Gateway to College School List to explore which schools she’ll be considering really is a lot of fun. As a mom without much personal experience navigating the mazes of college applications and financial aid, it’s a relief to have the explanations and guidance of the GATE website and the eBooks included with membership.
The Parent Dashboard is limited in how much information it shows about the students. I was able to see which modules my student had completed, her scores on the SAT and ACT practice tests, and her school list, but from the Parent account, I could not view any of the module content, such as the videos or lessons, or her answers to the lessons. I would like to see the Parent Dashboard expanded or modified so that parents can look at the content of the modules and know more about what their student is doing and learning, rather than just seeing whether they’ve completed a module or not.
I’ve often heard from homeschool parents the wish that the homeschool community had guidance counsellors to help us navigate college choices, applications, and testing; and for many homeschool families, the GATE College System will meet that need and demystify so much of the process.
-Product review by Kym Thorpe, The Old Schoolhouse Magazine, LLC, November, 2017