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Meet Pamela Donnelly of Valley Prep Tutoring and GATE College System in Burbank and Malibu

Today we’d like to introduce you to Pamela Donnelly.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Pamela. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
From soap star to college admissions expert. I’ve been a career educator for over 20 years now, having moved away from acting on TV to pursue academia and helping students. After many years of teaching in the classroom and working as a college admissions counselor, I opened Valley Prep Tutoring in 2012. Taking out an $80,000 business loan was a risk, but it has paid off well. As we are now in our 5th year of business, we have over 40 expert tutors on staff. Parents rave about our highly personalized, boutique suite of services tailored to help the most discerning families gain a competitive advantage.

Since private, one-on-one services are too costly for many families, I began my second company GATE College System as a digital platform to help any student anywhere benefit from our trainings. As a female founder and entrepreneur, I’ve now raised over half a million dollars to build a scalable solution addressing the college counseling gap in America. With an average 490:1 ratio at public high schools, students require the supplemental support GATE offers. I’m proud to have created a way to potentially help millions of deserving students level the playing field. Our mission with GATE is to equalize access.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc. – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
“A smooth sea never made a strong sailor,” as my dear Nanny used to say in VA, where I grew up as a first generation student. I’ve had to struggle to achieve success, but believe anything is possible when the right mentorship is in place for students.

I’ve struggled as a mother to raise 3 daughters while finding my way in business. Those balancing acts are not easy for anyone, I’m sure.

For every struggle there has been more than enough encouragement along the way, though, in the form of the real-life outcomes my students consistently achieve. Nothing is more professionally rewarding for me than to help teens get into right-fit colleges.

So, as you know, we’re impressed with Valley Prep Tutoring and GATE College System – tell our readers more, for example what you’re most proud of as a company and what sets you apart from others.
Valley Prep offers one-on-one in-home tutoring for students throughout the greater Los Angeles region (not just the valley!). Our team specializes in turning C’s and D’s into A’s and B’s with our GPA support; we also have some of the top point gains in the area on important exams like the ACT, SAT, ISEE, HSPT, CHSPE, MCAT, LSAT and more. College counselors, many of whom have worked on the other side of the desk in admissions at major colleges and universities, also offer list-building support and essays coaching. Students who apply to work with our team and are accepted get into an average of 9 colleges for every 11 applications they submit.

GATE College System’s digital college prep curriculum was developed over four years in the field with Valley Prep’s educators and students sharpening our unique, step-by-step road map to the best possible college with the most financial aid. GATE students typically receive $40,000 or more off the cost of college tuition on the basis of academic merit, and see significant confidence boosting as a direct result of working with our easy-to-use strategies.

So, what’s next? Any big plans?
I’m always planning for the future! Currently: looking for ways to connect to schools, districts, non-profits and homeschooling parents to help expand GATE College System’s impact for a wider range of students, in particular those who may be socio-economically disadvantaged. On the Valley Prep side, I’ve decided to open up a limited number of spots for my popular live events, College Quest, at local high schools this fall. Here I give away copies of my bestselling books (SWAT Team Tactics for Getting Your Teen Into College and 4 Keys to College Admissions Success) and offer 2 hours of insider tips with Q & A, typically on a weeknight during the school year.


  • Valley Prep Tutoring Intro Package (new clients) $149 for 90 minutes tutoring (on any topic or test).
  • GATE College System Digital Curriculum $29/month for 12 months ($348 total enrollment).
  • personal one-on-one consultation $300/hour, 2 hour minimum (by application only).

Contact Info:

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