Asset 1ScholarMatch

Training Module 1

About ScholarMatch: Our Destination College Program, Students, and Volunteers


Welcome to our online training modules!

This introduction provides an overview of ScholarMatch, our Destination College program, the students we serve, and the volunteers who make it all possible.

When you’ve finished reading this information, please complete the brief mastery assignment linked at the bottom of the page (estimated time: 20-25 minutes total).

About Us

Founded in 2010 by author Dave Eggers, ScholarMatch began as a San Francisco-based crowdfunding platform for scholarships. In the process of administering student scholarships, it became apparent that students needed a support system. To meet this need, in 2011 ScholarMatch rapidly transformed into a full-service college access organization and now serves students nationwide at every point of the college journey.

In 2015, we launched the ScholarMatcher, a groundbreaking college-list building tool optimized for the needs of low-income students, and began to offer college advising services virtually to high school students nationwide.

In 2016, we expanded our college services to serve undergraduate students in Los Angeles. We are thrilled to be opening an LA drop-in center in the summer of 2019 as a counterpart to our hub in SF, in addition to launching our services for LA-area high school students over the 2019-2020 program year! Today, ScholarMatch is a nimble 25-person organization, actively growing and constantly refining our programs.

Our Destination College Program, which you are on course to volunteer with, serves high school students applying to college. This program focuses in particular, but not exclusively, on first-generation (students from households where neither parent has earned a 4-year college degree in the US), lower-income, first-time degree seekers enrolling in 4-year colleges and universities. Over the 2019-2020 program year, we will support local students through our San Francisco and Los Angeles college centers, as well as students nationwide through virtual advising.

To learn more about ScholarMatch as an organization, please feel free to browse our most recent annual report.

About Our Students

In the next training, Module 2, you will read about and reflect on particular challenges faced by first-generation college students, low-income students, and students of color in applying to and persisting through college. In our final training of the on-boarding sequence, Module 5, you will learn more about the logistical details of the specific volunteer opportunity you’re interested in.

Here, we wanted to offer a high-level overview of how students get involved with ScholarMatch in the 2019-2020 ScholarMatch Destination College program. These students come to us through the multiple different channels listed below.

Virtual / Remote

The majority of our virtual students nationwide come to us through CollegePoint, a Bloomberg Philanthropies initiative. ScholarMatch is proud to be one of four partner organizations delivering virtual advising through CollegePoint to high-achieving, low and moderate income students across the United States, from Hawaii to Florida and everywhere in between. You can browse the CollegePoint website for more information on the initiative, watch this YouTube playlist, and listen to a recent NPR piece on the program here to learn more!

As our capacity allows, we will also consider student applications on a rolling basis to potentially serve remote students outside of the CollegePoint program with virtual advising.

SF Bay Area

Students come to us through our network of relationships with local high schools, counselors and other non-profit organizations, through word-of-mouth, and by simply walking by our Valencia Street storefront.

Our drop-in center is open to any and all high school students interested in our services. This year, we are excited to open up the opportunity for local Bay Area students to match 1:1 with coaches for year-long advising relationships over the 2019-2020 year! Through this coaching model, students and volunteers work together to tackle college applications for the entire academic year.

LA Area

In Summer 2019, we’re excited to be opening up our second college drop-in center in the Boyle Heights neighborhood in Los Angeles! We are thrilled to partner with the Kayne Foundation in recruiting our first cohort of LA high school seniors. This cohort of students will come from both official recruiting affiliate high schools and from local students and residents in the Boyle Heights/East LA area.

As with our San Francisco office, our Los Angeles college drop-in center will be open to any high school students interested in our services. 

About Our Volunteers

Our volunteer College Coaches are the heart and soul of the work we do to support promising but under-resourced high school students through the college admissions process. It is through our volunteer model that we are able to offer individualized, high-touch support to over 1,000 high school students each year.

By volunteering with ScholarMatch, you’re not only impacting students’ lives, but also joining an amazing network of individuals passionate about education equity. To offer a glimpse of the span of ages, professions, locations, and identities our College Coaches represent, here are just a few examples of individuals and groups currently volunteering with our program:

  • A faculty member at the UCLA College Counseling Certificate program
  • A current first-year undergraduate student at USC and ScholarMatch Class of 2018 alum (we made an exception to our BA degree requirement for this outstanding individual!)
  • A Distinguished Professor of Physics at the University of Kansas
  • Retired teachers, counselors, and school principals
  • Stay-at-home parents passionate about equity in education
  • Independent Educational Consultants looking to take on pro-bono students
  • International admissions experts based in Central America, Europe, Asia, the Middle East, and Australia
  • A wide range of working professionals from fields beyond education who bring excellence and generosity of spirit to our work!

Collectively, our volunteer community has an incredible wealth of experience and expertise around all topics related the admissions process, and many other areas of education. Whether you’re a seasoned professional in college access or coming to this work from another field, we’re excited for you to join us!

Over the next year, we look forward to investing in our volunteers, building our College Coach community, and leveraging its collective expertise. Here are some benefits of joining ScholarMatch as a College Coach:

  • Provide key support to under-resourced students at a critical inflection point in their lives
  • Work towards building a sustainable, equitable solution to college access in the US
  • Receive an invitation (upon completing all trainings and background check) to attend the expenses-paid ScholarMatch volunteer convening in San Francisco, from July 12-13, 2019
  • Gain access to a national network of college access and higher education experts
  • Connect with fellow volunteers through an internal email listserv, our (optional but vibrant) College Coach Facebook page, webinars, and volunteer happy hours in major cities, among other forums

Preliminary Overview of Your Role

ScholarMatch College Coaches serve as one-on-one partners and guides for students across the country who are applying to college. Coaches provide the information, guidance, and support that our students—predominantly lower-income and first-generation college applicants—need to apply, gain admission, and excel at the best colleges and universities for them with regard to academic match, financial fit, and social fit. This work includes helping students research and identify colleges, complete essays, resumes, recommendations and application forms, apply for financial aid and scholarships and compare award packages, and prepare academically, socially, and emotionally to succeed in college.

As a College Coach, you will provide additional support for your students to help ensure that they understand their choices, to encourage them to apply to a range of schools (i.e. reaches, matches, and safeties), and to empower them to ultimately make a decision that is right for them. Should you find that your advice differs significantly from that of your student’s guidance counselor, parents, or other important figures in your life, you should humbly share your perspective with the student while conveying respect for these other figures and their perspectives. Ultimately, your student will decide what is right for them.

ScholarMatch will provide ongoing training, curriculum, monthly goals, milestones for your students, and support throughout the year to guide coaches through the process.

Module 1 Assignment

To finish this training module, please complete the mastery assignment linked below.



Once you have finished, you can access Training Module 2 here.