I am the parent of an international student who applied to college this year and I had a horrible experience with Gateway Education in Shanghai, in particular my advisor was Stephen Tung. They did a horrendous job with our kid. We hired them during his senior year to help polish his essays and his application. We did so on the recommendation of a friend and paid an exorbitant sum of money for these services. I wanted to write this review to hold this firm accountable, not on the basis of where my son did or didn’t get in, but on the basis of their service or lack of it.
When we first met with them, Stephen persuaded us to join his services by listing out all the schools that your son should look at. He used the names of fancy schools like Princeton and Yale and said our son had a great change of getting into them. Later out this proved to be completely unrealistic. It wasn’t even close. When it actually came to helping us his performance was even more horrible. He was never free and would constantly reschedule meeting times.
Furthermore, after we sent him drafts of essays he initially promised that he would always get back edits within 24 hours. However, the reality of the situation is that he would not even read them, and whenever he met with our son he would first ask our son to “read the essay out loud so he could get a better feel for it.” He almost certainly never read the essays and rarely got back any edits. When he did, his edits were also usually just small grammar bits or wording. When helping my child brainstorm essays, he was completely unhelpful and would say empty jargon like “what would you want to tell someone if they were interviewing you.”
First, Stephen only graduated from UC San Diego and lacked many of the higher order writing skills that were needed to write at a high level. Simply put, many of his students including my son were better at writing than him. He was rude, dismissive, and often sounded like he was trying to get off the phone call as soon as he could so he could call other clients. He would always end calls at 2:00 on the dot and not give an extra minute or sometimes even end the calls early before the hour mark.
He also advertised that he worked with a woman from Yale who was an English major and could help with the essays. We never interacted with her once.
All in all the services of him and his firm were horrendous. I would caution any student or parent to proceed with caution when accepting the services of any college counselor.
TLDR: horrible service, punctuality, and empty promises from Stephen Tung of Gateway Education.