Destination College SF
Free one-on-one college counseling and a pathway to game-changing college support.
Welcome to the Destination College Program!
Destination College, ScholarMatch’s college access program, provides hands-on support to San Francisco Bay Area high school students who are the first in their families to attend college. Participants are matched with a college coach who provides virtual one-on-one guidance throughout the entire college application and financial aid process.
Through this student-centered approach, coaches help students make informed decisions based on their college needs and preferences. Coaches and students usually stay connected beyond the college application process, building long-lasting and meaningful relationships.
Students work with college coaches via phone, text message, email, and video calls once a month during their senior year to work on the following:
- Explore college options
- Develop and edit personal statements
- Fill out financial aid applications
- Review financial aid award letters
- Search and apply for scholarships
- Clarify any college application issues
Students who complete the Destination College program are also invited to apply to the Scholars Program—our college persistence program—to receive robust support in college, including up to $25,000 in flexible scholarships and career mentoring all the way to graduation.
How It Works
Apply: High school juniors are invited to apply beginning February 1 by filling out the student application form. Students who apply before June 30, 2023, will be prioritized. Regular application review will start in July, and the deadline to apply is September 15.
Meet Your Coach: Students are matched with a college coach and work together virtually throughout the year. Communication happens via phone, email, and text as they navigate the college application process together.
Complete Milestones: Students complete their “College-Ready Milestones” to apply to college.
Apply to Continue Support: Spring of the senior year, eligible students who complete their milestones can apply to our Scholars Program, ScholarMatch’s college persistence program.
College Support: Students who are accepted to continue with ScholarMatch will receive robust advising, financial support, and career mentoring all the way to college graduation.
Program Eligibility and Requirements
We carefully review applications to our program and consider personal circumstances for students who do not meet all of our eligibility criteria.
To be eligible to apply to our program, students must:
- Identify as a first-generation college student
- First-generation college students is defined as students who grew up in households without a parent or guardian who had completed a four-year college degree.
- Meet our income eligibility guidelines
- Have a high school GPA of 2.0 or higher
- Live in the San Francisco Bay Area
Since our program is fully virtual, we expect our students to communicate and meet their coaches at least once a month or as needed once they are admitted into our program.
- Commit to meeting once a month or as needed with their college coach
- Be comfortable with communicating via Zoom, phone, email, and/or texting
- Communicate and follow through with their college coach within 2-3 days
How to Apply
Thank you for your interest in applying to ScholarMatch’s virtual college access program! We recommend that you review our sample application before submitting your application and double-check that you meet our program requirements.
If accepted, sign and submit our student and parent agreement that will be sent to you via email and review our Milestone 1 video.
February 1: Application Launch
March 31: Priority Coach Matching Deadline
If you want a head start on the college application process then you should apply by our priority deadline.
September 15: Rolling Final Deadline
We recommend submitting our application prior to our final deadline as spaces fill up quickly.
April-July: Student Rolling Onboarding
During this period, students attend a virtual orientation session to review our program expectations. Students use this time to complete our mandatory program agreement and Milestone 1 in our College-Ready Milestones.
Thank you for your interest in our program! Our application deadline has passed. If you are still interested in receiving support we encourage you to apply to our virtual drop-in program here.
If you are a Class of 2025 student please submit this contact form so we can be in touch when the application opens early next year.
Destination College participants have access to the following:
- Workshops and events: We offer online workshops and events to help students complete each College-Ready Milestone and to connect with other students and volunteers in the Destination College (DCSF) program.
- Tutoring and classes: We offer tutoring support for SAT/ACT and academic classes in partnership with AJ Tutoring and a limited number of scholarships to take A-G required courses with UC Scout.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the application process?
Students are required to submit an application to our program and meet our eligibility requirements to be considered. Program acceptance isn’t guaranteed. After applications are reviewed, students complete an online student and parent program agreement and watch a short video about our program. These are the three required steps that need to be completed before a student can be matched to a coach.
Who is eligible for your program?
We serve first-generation students from low-income backgrounds who are in their junior or senior year of high school. For students who are interested in our program and don’t meet the eligibility criteria, we will consider admitting them based on program capacity.
How do students and families hear about your program?
We conduct outreach and information sessions at high schools and local community-based organizations with a need for our services. Many of our students hear from us via word of mouth, a teacher, or alumni of our program. We also partner with select community-based organizations and high schools to provide services to their students.
How do students and coaches get matched?
We match students and coaches based on students’ application information and matching preferences, such as timezone, hobbies, college majors, and desired industry. We approach matching holistically by considering many factors; our goal is to pair students with coaches who will be a good fit.
How many times do students have to meet with their coaches? What are the expectations in working with a college coach?
Our students meet with their coaches an average of 15 times during the program year. The busiest times are summer and fall, during which time we anticipate students and coaches meeting several times a month. During the winter and spring of the senior year, students typically meet with their coaches around 3-5 times per season.
What type of colleges do students apply to?
We recommend that students apply to colleges that are a financial, academic, and personal fit, so it varies based on students’ needs and preferences. Some students apply to more highly selective institutions, while others apply to regional schools because they want to stay closer to home.
I’m a student and I already have an idea of where I want to go to college, should I still apply?
Yes! Our coaches can still advise you and guide you through many other aspects of the college application process, including building your college lists to ensure you have a good mix of schools, so come decision time, you have many options to consider. In addition, you will also receive support on financial aid applications, personal statements, college offers, and more.
What if I am receiving support from another organization?
You are more than welcome to apply to our program, however, we find that students who are not receiving support from multiple organizations benefit the most from the one-on-one support that ScholarMatch provides.
What our Students are Saying
“ScholarMatch has allowed me to dream bigger and realize that I can pursue higher education without financial debt. My mentor is like one of my friends. She truly cares about me, we have engaging conversations, and we don’t just talk about only college applications. She’s helped me through so much, and she says it’s been a journey watching me grow this past year with the time we’ve spent together.”
– Vicky V., Class of 2022
“The ScholarMatch program has been a HUGE resource in helping me apply to college. (Big shout out to my ScholarMatch Advisor Nancy for everything she has done for me, including helping me to write essays, apply for scholarships, and prepare for interviews!!) ScholarMatch has provided me with many resources and information to know which college is my best fit. Because of the immense support I received, I will be going to Johns Hopkins University this upcoming fall! A fun fact about myself is that I love to watch pop culture analysis videos on YouTube.”
– Iheoma A., Class of 2022
“As a first-gen low-income student, I had no clue how to start applying for college. Upon meeting with my ScholarMatch coach, Amber, she transformed my fear into confidence and assurance that I would be able to accomplish my goals. Words can’t adequately express my gratitude for her role in my college application process, I don’t think I would have reached this point without her wisdom and dedication to my success!”
– Eden A., Class of 2022
“My college coach, Paul, has helped me find the right schools, guided me through the application process, and helped me secure enough aid to keep me debt-free. He’s been very kind, available, and never hesitates to lend some guidance. I’m positive I wouldn’t be where I am now without his help and the ScholarMatch program!”
– Steven R., Class of 2022
Check out our calendar to learn more about our online workshops and information sessions.
Meet The Team
DC Programming Lead - Min-Ling
Meet The Team
Director of College Access - Lisa
Meet The Team
Volunteer Program Manager - Paola
Meet The Team
Program Associate - Dominic
Meet The Team
Program Associate - Nora