Asset 1ScholarMatch

College Coach Training

Complete the steps below to begin helping students!

Check your progress here!

First Step

  1. What is ScholarMatch and the Destined for College program?

    Before You Start!

    To understand how to complete these modules, please Click Here for a short video tutorial. If you have any questions, problems, or concerns, visit our Volunteer Training Resources Page!
    If you’d like to speak with a member of the team, please email us at, and we will get back to you as soon as possible.

    The goal of this first training module is to introduce you to ScholarMatch and the basics of our Destined for College Program, including your role as a college coach and the amazing volunteer community of fellow coaches you’ll be joining. At the end of this training module, you will be asked to complete a short mastery assignment. 
    1. About us

      Founded in 2010 by author Dave Eggers, ScholarMatch began as a San Francisco-based crowdfunding platform for secondary school scholarships. In the process of administering student scholarships, it became apparent that our demographic of students needed a support system to help them get to and through college and into a career. To meet this need, ScholarMatch evolved into a full-service college access and persistence organization serving students at every point of their college journeys, whether it’s in California or nationwide. For an overview of ScholarMatch’s mission, story, and programs, please begin by thoroughly reviewing these slides.

    2. The Destined for College Program

      Destined for College is the overarching name for our College Access Program, which provides free college application assistance and advising to first-generation students in the US through our dynamic virtual advising program. Our primary focus is to ensure each student is carefully paired with a dedicated coach (that’s you!) to receive personalized and unparalleled support tailored to their individual needs.

    3. Our Volunteer Community and Your Role as a College Coach

      By volunteering with ScholarMatch, you’re not only impacting students’ lives but also joining an amazing community of individuals who are passionate about educational equity. To read an introduction to your role as a college coach and get a sense of the volunteer community you will be joining, please review these slides.

    4. College-Ready Milestones

      Destined for College participants are asked to complete milestones as they progress through the college application process. These milestones help students keep track of their progress while going through the college application process. As a college coach, we suggest that you review these milestones since they will help you better understand and support students by breaking down areas students may be struggling. You can visit the College-Ready Milestones website here! These are the initial eight College-Ready Milestones:

      • Prepare
        • Milestone 1 – Welcome to Destined for College
        • Milestone 2 – Explore College Fit and Match
        • Milestone 3 – Chec SAT/ACT Test Policies
        • Milestone 4 – Finalize Your College List
      • Apply
        • Milestone 5 – Draft and Revise College Essays
        • Milestone 6 – Submit Your College Applications
        • Milestone 7 – Apply for Financial Aid
        • Milestone 8 – Apply for Scholarships

    How to complete this module:

    1. Please review the video on how to complete our training modules, which is located in the “Before You Start!” section.
    2. Read through each section carefully before answering the questions in this module. Note that each underlined text is a link. We also included all documents and slides used in this module below.
    3. Once you review the information, click on the button below to access the form to complete this training module.

    Useful Documents & Slide

    1. ScholarMatch’s Mission.
    2. Introduction to Being a College Coach.
    3. College Ready Milestones Page.


  1. Understanding Barriers and Advising Our Students
    The goal of this training module is to help College Coaches better understand the student population that ScholarMatch serves and the barriers and strengths our students navigate as they work to gain access to college. In this module, you will be asked to view three resources and submit responses by following the “Complete This Module” button. 
          1. Who are our Destined for College students?

            We support underserved student populations by providing the resources and tools necessary to gain access to college. Our ultimate goal is to help students find their best college match based on their academic profile and social fit. We encourage our students to consider all available college options. Here is a comprehensive demographic breakdown of our students.

          2. College Access Barriers for Underserved Student Populations

            Now that you have spent some time getting to know our students, please review some of the current barriers they may face in accessing higher education. Explore the resources listed below to better understand why your role supporting our students is pivotal. As you review each article, be prepared to answer these guiding questions:

            a. What are some barriers underserved students face in applying to college?
            b. What assumptions or beliefs (whether real or perceived) might prevent you from encouraging some students to consider all types of colleges?

            White Privilege in College Admissions, 2 minute read
            How the pandemic highlights racial disparities in higher education – White Privilege in College Admissions, [ 6:43 min watch]
            Here’s what happened when affirmative action ended at California public colleges, 3 minute read
            Our Separate & Unequal Public Colleges, [ 1:39 min watch]
            The Struggle to Be First: First-Gen Students May Be Torn Between College and Home, 7 mins read
            How FAFSA Delays Will Impact College-Going Decisions of Low-Income Students and Students of Color, 2 min read 
            Study of Elite College Admissions Data Suggests Being Very Rich Is Its Own Qualification, 7 mins read 

            Please note: These resources don’t provide a comprehensive view of all barriers within the college access landscape, but can help equip volunteers to become better-informed college coaches, aligned with ScholarMatch’s Destined for College program’s goals and the needs of the students we serve.

          3. What is our advising approach when it comes to working with underserved student populations?

            The goal of the Destined for College program is to help students get to college based on their best college match and fit. In order to accomplish these goals, we believe it is important to define our framework for advising underserved student populations. If you prefer to read the content, please click here.

          4. How can you use this information to shape your coaching approach?

            We encourage coaches to consider the ways in which students’ identities, experiences, and needs could shape their communications with students and coaching style. Here is the written document version. How can you incorporate an equity-minded, student-centered framework into your work with students?


            Addressing White Privilege in Higher Education, 8 Minute Read
            College students should take mandatory course on black history, white privilege, 2 mins read
            College Experience Guide for LGBTQ+ Students, 3 mins read
            Neurodiversity in the College Setting, 5 mins read
            Student Loan Debt in California [2 mins read]
            Private, selective colleges are most likely to use race, ethnicity as a factor in admissions decisions [2 mins]
            Tired of the waiting lists for California’s public universities, nursing students increasingly turn to expensive private programs [13 min listen]
            The Supreme Court banned affirmative action — except at military service academies (Podcast) [37 min listen]
            How does a computer discriminate? (Podcast) [33 min listen]

        How to complete this module:

        1. Read through each section and click on the underlined sections.
        2. Please select two sources from the bulleted list to better understand the wider college access landscape.
        3. As you read, consider why your role is pivotal in working with our students.

        Useful Documents & Slides:

        1. Demographic Breakdown
        2. College Coach Advising Approach Slide
        3. College Coach Advising Approach Document 
        4. Shape your Communications and Coaching Styles Slide
        5. Shape your Communications and Coaching Styles Document

  2. The College Access Landscape
    The goal of this training module is to help College Coaches strengthen their college type landscape comprehension and terminology. At the end of this training, you will be asked to complete your own college research using the tools and resources outlined below.
      1. College Terminology and Landscape

        Applying to college can be confusing, as there’s a plethora of information that students will need to know: what different types of colleges they can apply for, what certain college terms mean, etc. Your college knowledge will be essential to help our students consider the many college options available to them. Click on this interactive presentation to learn more. To review the terms in a written format, click here.

      2. College Research Process and Activity

        Though there are many sites that can help build a college list, you will use BigFuture, College Navigator, College Scorecard, and/or ScholarMatcher, and our College Spotlight tool to practice how to search for different colleges and data. These sites are just examples of many that exist which can aid you in researching colleges with students. Please follow these links for how to tutorials: BigFuture, College Navigator, College Scorecard, and the ScholarMatcher.

        Now it’s time to put your knowledge into practice! The following activity is meant to replicate the college research process that our students experience. You will be using the College Research Worksheet to complete this assignment and will later be asked to share your answers in the Mastery Assignment below, “How to Complete this Module.”

    How to complete this module:

    1. Read through each section carefully, and remember that each underlined text is a link.
    2. Complete the College Research Worksheet in Section 3.
    3. Once you’ve completed the worksheet, click on the button below to submit your answers from the College Research Worksheet.

    Useful Documents, Slides & Links:

    1. College Knowledge Slide.
    2. College Knowledge Document.
    3. College Research Worksheet.
    4. How to use the Links Below
    College Navigator
    College Scorecard

  3. Building a Balanced College List
    The goal of this training module is to understand the importance and key criteria that make a balanced college list and learn strategies that you can implement to support your student. At the end of this module, you will be asked to complete a short mastery assignment, which includes providing feedback on a sample college list.
      1. Building a College List

        Building a balanced college list is crucial for a student’s success in the application process. A well-curated list that includes a mix of safety, match, and reach schools increases the likelihood of finding the right fit for academic and personal goals. This involves considering factors such as academic programs, campus culture, and financial considerations. The slides provided offer insights into the importance of a balanced college list and guidance on supporting students throughout this process.

      2. Students Considering Community College

        Each student’s college journey looks very different. Many students opt for the community college route for its affordability, offering a cost-effective alternative to traditional four-year institutions. Each student’s reasons for choosing community college will differ, but it’s important to support and respect the decision of each student.

      3. List Building for Undocumented Students

        Crafting a balanced college list for undocumented students involves considering institutions with supportive policies, resources, and legal protections. The focus is on identifying schools that not only align with academic goals but also provide a welcoming environment for these students. This tailored approach aims to help undocumented students, ensuring they have options that prioritize their unique needs, and fostering an environment conducive to academic success and personal growth. A great starting point to learn more about resources available to undocumented students is Immigrants Rising

      4. College List-Building Resources

        We’ve compiled a list of resources researched by our staff and shared by previous volunteers to assist you and your student in building a college list. Ranging from various college search tools to resources for undocumented students, these materials are an excellent way to kickstart the college search process.

      5. Building Rapport with Your Student

        We recommend using this guide to facilitate productive conversations with your student, gain deeper insights into their college process, and understand the most effective ways to provide support and guidance.

      6. College Spotlight

        This document serves as a solid starting point when offering suggestions or recommendations for your student’s college list, considering specific school characteristics, majors, and interests.

      7. Sample College List Activity

        This is your opportunity to practice what you’ve learned so far! In this sample College List Activity, you’re tasked with reviewing two student profiles and providing feedback on their college lists. Your goal is to ensure that each student has a balanced college list that includes reach, target, and likely schools. Good luck!

    How to complete this module:

    1. Read Sections 1-4 and their accompanying resources.
    2. Review the College List Activity in Section 4.
    3. Complete the mastery assignment by clicking the button below.

    Useful Documents, Slides & Links:

    1. Building a Balanced College List
    2. Immigrants Rising Resources
    3. Building Rapport with Your Student
    4. College Spotlight Resource
    5. College List Activity

  4. The Essay
    The goal of this training module is to understand the best practices for reviewing personal statements with students. This training module will provide you with useful strategies for starting the first draft, guidelines for editing students’ work, and tips on how to provide feedback. At the end of this module, you will be asked to identify areas of growth for providing feedback on a student’s personal statement. You will review two examples of feedback provided by coaches and identify what went well and how the feedback provided could have been improved.
    The personal statement is your students’ opportunity to offer a compelling glimpse of their character that goes beyond test scores and grades. Remember that your role is not only to edit essays for flow and accuracy but, perhaps more importantly, to encourage your students to recognize and articulate their strengths with confidence. This is your students’ opportunity to expand their application and give admissions counselors a deeper understanding of who they are. Learn firsthand about the nuances of the personal statement from admissions officers in this video (2 minutes).
    1. Starting the First Draft

      One of the most challenging aspects of writing personal statements is knowing where to start. Your students may struggle with brainstorming ideas, deciding which prompts to answer, or figuring out how to start their essay. Read this document for some helpful strategies to provide for your student.

    2. Guidelines For Editing

      When editing and revising your students’ work, you’ll likely have some questions on the best practices and approach. Read this document to review some useful Do’s and Don’ts.

    3. How To Provide Feedback

      As the school year picks up, you may find that communication with your student will become inconsistent via phone or video chat. This is why providing thorough, encouraging, and focused feedback on their personal statement via direct document edits is essential in virtual advising. You’ll likely edit their personal statement directly on a Word/Google document and send it back with your revisions (you’ll probably repeat this process 2-3 times before finalizing all edits).

      As you work through the personal statement with your students, remember that a good essay can boost an application that might not otherwise stand out in a field of highly qualified and competitive applicants. Read this document to review tips and strategies to keep in mind while providing feedback.


      How to complete this module:

      Please complete the following assignment using the tips and recommendations you just reviewed above.
      1. Please review Essay A and Essay B
      2. After reviewing both essays, complete the Mastery Assignment below

      Useful Documents, Slides & Links

      1. Nuances of the Personal Statement from Admissions Officers
      2. Starting the First Draft
      3. Guidelines for Editing
      4. How to Provide Feedback

Skip to content