10 months ago
Admissions Advice

Do colleges find taking GATE (gifted and talented education) English or Honors English more impressive?

I’m choosing my junior year classes soon, and I’m not sure which to take. I’ve taken GATE and Honors English before in the past but I’m curious as to how colleges see them.

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10 months ago[edited]

My honest opinion would be neither and opt for AP Advanced Placement English - Language and Composition and then take AP English- Literature and Composition in 12th Grade, or if you are in an IB Program, take the highest available IB English classes to like IB English A - Literature, or IB English A - Lit and Language. If your HS doesn't offer AP or IB classes, you can take them online either through accredited online High Schools/"cram schools" or some colleges that offer programs for HS students like JHU or UC Schools. Or you can self-study.





GATE or TAG programs are controversial because students who are selected into those programs are generally tested in 1st-4th grade or when they are 7-10 years old. It's true that when they are tested they exhibited a level of intellectual curiosity and achievement higher than their peers however the metrics are relative to their age group. Since it's evident that all students mature intellectually different, by the time that same group is 15 or 16, they may find themselves either at the same 95% percentile level or lower. In the meantime, there are other students who have learning or intellectual spurts that leapfrog past these GATE or TAG kids, yet they are never invited into the group and have to develop their own talents and spikes independently. Since GATE or TAG kids are almost never retested say at age 13 or 14, they are only as talented and gifted as their last test.

In my High School, about 5% of my classmates were GATE or TAG kids. While they were clearly all smart at 7, too many of them rested on their laurels rather than grinding it out or feeling that they needed to prove their worth. So when it came to applying to colleges, most of them did not get into their top picks and settled for targets because they thought the GATE or TAG label would give them clout. In fact, maybe 10% of this group got into their top or near the top school while other NON-GATE or TAG kids who had 99% SAT/ACT scores, UWGPAS of 99%+ based on taking the hardest classes, a repertoire of excellent ECS, amazing writing ability got into Elite colleges at higher percentages. I think most of the GATE or TAG kids knew where they stood by 12th grade but by then it was too late to do anything about it.

Therefore, I think college admissions officers like to compare "apples to apples" and "oranges to oranges". If their most successful admits have say 6-10 AP or IB classes with top marks, that speaks to the fact they these cohorts are poised to successfully complete college-level courses, keeping the class retention rate super high like 95%. If AP or IB classes are not available, colleges like to see evidence of intellectual curiosity. So when they see that HS kids self-enroll in college courses to challenge themselves, like taking College Maths or STEM courses, that impresses them as well.

Since you are in 10th grade, be strategic and diligent about knowing what the requirements are for the kinds of colleges you wish to apply to. Do not fall into the possible trap that being a GATE or TAG will help you in any way on your college application. If anything, some college admission officers will have higher expectations of you if they see that you were hand-picked and given additional educational resources like special courses and teachers to develop your potential. They may put the bar up for you, rather than lower it.

Hope this is helpful in planning out the next 2 years of classes.


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