Asset 1ScholarMatch

Training Module 5B

In-Center Operations and Best Practices for our Drop-In Coaches.

Congratulations you're almost finished!

You’ve made it to the last of our onboarding training modules! We appreciate your persistence and hard work as we make sure that our volunteers are well equipped to understand our Destination College program and best serve students in the class of 2020.

This final module will walk you through our In-Center operations and best practices for Drop-In coaches who will be working with students in our center.

Our Expectations of College Coaches

Now that you understand the significance of your role as a College Coach, please read the following closely to understand our expectations of your commitment to our students. Volunteers must abide by the following to ensure a safe and positive environment for all.

Committed Engagement

During our peak season (September through February) we expect you to be present at least twice a month in order to build relationships with the students that regularly attend our workshops. Consistency will help you build relationships with students. Students request to work with coaches who attend workshops regularly. For them, being able to count on your support is invaluable.


Please inform us when you will be tardy or unable to keep your commitment in a timely manner. You will be provided the volunteer email and cell phone number to ensure communication is easily accessible between coaches and staff. Because we are a drop-in center our student’s attendance can be inconsistent, we appreciate your flexibility if we need to reschedule your attendance. If, for whatever reason, we need to reschedule or cancel your attendance we will notify you by 3:30pm the day of your commitment. Additionally, if you live in the neighborhood and would like to be added to the contact list for last minute volunteering needs, please let us know.

Outside Contact

Outside of our Drop-In Center, all student communication must go directly through a staff member. Contact with students (via email, phone, or in person) outside our office is forbidden. We request that you do not give out your business card or contact information to any students. Additionally, we expect that you will not solicit students for any services you provide privately, such as college or career consulting. If you want to be matched in the future with the same student, feel free to highlight this on your sign-out form or let a staff member know and we will be happy to connect you to the same student.

Appropriate Content

At ScholarMatch, our rule of thumb is this: if you cannot talk about it in front of a student’s grandparent, then you should not talk about it with your student. Only discuss sensitive topics when it relates directly to the work you two are doing.


It is important that every ScholarMatch student feels that their privacy is respected. We do not discuss personal information about our students in front of other students.


If you ever feel uncomfortable in a situation with a student, speak to a ScholarMatch staff member immediately.

Student Engagement

Engagement with your students will likely vary throughout the program year. The chart below illustrates the typical pattern of engagement we have observed in past years:


Not surprisingly,  engagement rates are highest over the fall application season. It’s normal to touch base less frequently during the winter, and then for engagement to tick back up in the spring as students weigh their acceptances, financial aid award letters, and final decisions.

College Coaching Workshops & Best Practices

We offer workshops on essential college admission topics, including:

  • college/major exploration
  • personal statement writing
  • completing college applications and financial aid forms
  • financial aid award letters

College Coaches work in-person at our San Francisco center, and commit to volunteering several times throughout a semester.

Coaching sessions are from 5:30 – 7:30pm and take place at our college center on Monday-Wednesday evenings and select Saturdays from August-January. We ask drop-in College Coaches to commit to attending two sessions per month.

We want to make sure that we are providing as many tools, resources and staff support for our coaches to feel comfortable assisting a student during College Coaching. As a Drop-in College Coach we ask that your biggest strength be adaptability. On any given evening, the number of students during our workshops can vary drastically and it is extremely helpful when a coach is able to walk in and work with either one or three students at a time.

Tips for Coaching

The following acronym will help the student familiarize themselves with you and will help you build rapport!

ACE (About me, Career, Education)

Approach: As staff members we will make sure that we introduce you to the students you will be working with but it is a much easier transition when our coaches take the lead and approach the students themselves in a friendly manner. 

Check-In: After you introduce yourself to the student/s you will be working with, we encourage you to ask them where they are in their essay editing process. It is helpful for the coach to know how much editing a student has completed and where they would like more assistance. This step is important because if a deadline is approaching, you would want to approach your editing suggestions differently.

Rotate: Fall season is our busiest season, that being said, we ask that coaches rotate around the room and have an eye out for which student has not been helped. It is easy to get caught up helping one student, but as you can imagine, if we are short on coaches we need all hands on deck checking in on all students. We also see the value in exposing all of our students to many coaches and learn about multiple college journeys and careers.

Space: Knowing when to allow a student to work on their own and brainstorm is extremely important. Not evaluating or adding comments during brainstorming sessions encourages creative/critical thinking.

Lack of discussion is O.K. even if at first it feels awkward: Students might not have much input in the moment and that is OK. This allows you to give space and rotate. We also suggest that coaches bring a book or grab one of our laptops in the case where all students are busy doing work or being attended to.

Open-Ended Question List

We recommend using the following questions to foster productive conversations with your student, gain further insight into your student’s college process, and understand the best ways to offer support and guidance.

Relationship Building:
What kind of job would you like to have when you grow up?
What is your favorite thing to do outside of school?
How would a friend or family member describe you?
What is your family like? How many siblings do you have?
What is your hometown like?
Who do you most look up to or admire?
What is the farthest you have ever been from home?
What’s the best thing that happened to you since we last talked?

Reflections on High School:
What have been your favorite classes in high school? Why?
What has been your favorite thing about high school?
What has been your least favorite thing about high school?
Who has supported you most at your high school?
What extracurricular activities are you currently involved in?

Reflections on College:
What are your motivations for attending college?
What are you most looking forward to about college?
What are some of your fears as an incoming college freshman?
What are you most interested in studying once you are in college?
Describe what your ideal college campus would look like.
What are you looking for in student life?
If you were to tour the schools on your list, what would hope to see?
What clubs or activities do you see yourself joining in college?
Do you plan to study abroad? Where would you most like to go?

How to Sign Up & Sign Out

In order to best serve our students and our coaches, ScholarMatch tracks Sign-Out forms consistently throughout the year. Collecting this information is imperative for us to better understand the needs of our students and coaches in order to improve our program to best serve everyone.

Sign Up
In order to sign up for College Coaching, please view our calendar through our website at You will see the “Get Involved” tab at the top right corner and once you click it you will be directed to our volunteer webpage. There you will see “College Coach, SF Bay Area you”  where you’ll be able to view our Volunteer Calendar and sign up using your ID.

All volunteers are expected to Sign-Out on a computer at the ScholarMatch office before leaving the building. Our “Volunteer Sign-Out” form can always be found at the bottom of any page on our website. Please feel free to leave feedback here, or reach out to staff to discuss directly. We love to hear what is going well and where we can continue to grow.


Module 5B Assignment

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