Founded in 2014


Matriculate is a nonprofit that supports high-achieving, low-income high school students in navigating the college application process through a personalized student support system.

Relationship Map Info Icon

This Kumu map illustrates the web of relationships put within reach for students. Thicker lines indicate strong relationship ties (daily to weekly contact). Dotted lines indicate weak relationship ties (less frequent contact).

Stronger Ties

Advising Fellows.

Weaker Ties

Peers, High School Experience Managers, and Matriculate staff.

Key Design Insight

Leveraging the power of peer-to-peer interaction and social networks, Matriculate trains talented college students at top institutions to connect remotely with high-achieving, low-income high school students.

How Matriculate
builds social capital

Matriculate builds students’ social capital through a personalized student support model aimed at addressing discrete barriers that students face in navigating the college application process. Matriculate recruits, selects, and trains college students from top colleges, called “Advising Fellows,” to serve as virtual advisors. Advising Fellows use video chats, text messages, and phone calls to help high school students through the college application, financial aid, and enrollment process. Because they have successfully navigated the transition to colleges themselves, Advising Fellows can provide credible, personalized guidance and act as role models.

The Matriculate Advising Experience

The Matriculate program empowers high-achieving, low-income high school students to make the leap to top colleges and universities. High school students are connected with a free virtual college advisor who provides information, guidance, and support to high school students in navigating the college process. These virtual college advisors, known as Advising Fellows, are current undergraduates and leverage the power of peer-to-peer interaction and social networks to fill the holes in how high school students approach applying to college. Advising Fellows serve both as guides in the application process as well as models of matriculation, having successfully enrolled in top colleges themselves. 

The Matriculate program is anchored in an advising model between high school students and college students. The program starts junior year of high school. Each Advising Fellow commits to working remotely with up to four high-achieving, low-income high school students through the college application and selection process. Advising Fellows are expected to commit to four sequential semesters and five to six hours a week. They are freshmen, sophomores, or juniors at one of the partner colleges. 

Relationships Built

Advising Fellows: Matriculate’s Advising Fellows are current students at top colleges who provide guidance and support to students applying to college. Advising Fellows must apply, and if selected, will be trained and assessed on their role. They interact with their students one-on-one via text messages, emails, phone chats, and video chats.

Head Advising Fellow: Head Advising Fellows are former Advising Fellows who take on a leadership role to manage other Advising Fellows on their campus and act as the liaison between Matriculate staff and Fellows. Head Advising Fellows play a critical role in ensuring the quality of the Matriculate model by ensuring Fellows excel in supporting their high school students, troubleshooting and solving challenges, helping with training, monitoring program implementation, and suggesting and implementing program improvements. Head Advising Fellows also serve as Advising Fellows themselves, acting as one-on-one partners and guides for at least two of Matriculate’s high school students across the country applying to college. Head Advising Fellows are volunteers who receive a monetary stipend and have the opportunity to receive course credit and/or work-study if offered by their college. 

Matriculate Staff: Matriculate designates a staff member “Campus Lead” as the point person for each campus-based advising program. This person visits campus to meet with advisors regularly, connects weekly with the Head Advising Fellows, and connects directly with high school students around any challenging circumstances that require additional support. 

On-campus Peers: Matriculate works to connect high school students to each other at key inflection moments. Students who are visiting, or are accepted into, similar colleges are encouraged to meet up and connect with each other and with Matriculate Advising Fellows while on campus.

High School Experience Manager: The Experience Manager is an on-call staff member who engages in a variety of support activities for high school students, particularly during winter breaks and enrollment season. The manager typically sends out the physical mailers (a kit) to families with checklists and sends out the first communication to students. Additional activities include bi-weekly nudges to ensure active engagement, monthly newsletters, and webinars targeted to high school students and their parents/guardians. If a high school student is disengaged, the manager will step in to provide targeted support to the student in place of the Advising Fellow.

Design Tools & Tips

Peer-to-peer personal interactions. The personal interactions that Matriculate brokers are anchored in an advising model between high school students and college students that serve as the catalyst to shatter low-income, high-achievers’ college perception gap. This peer-to-peer approach is particularly effective because high school students can see success modeled by the college student who has successfully navigated the college process. High school students say that their advisors “get it.” They know not only what the process entails but also how it feels.

Cultivating authentic relationships. Despite the program providing virtual connections, high school students see these as authentic, genuine relationships and often report that the Advisor is the first person they reach out to for help. Matriculate has found that authenticity comes from recency. College students can relate to what high school students are going through because they recently applied to college themselves, lending them a level of both expertise and credibility. In addition, the program balances formal and informal communication. Informal communication can consist of Advising Fellows reaching out to check in before or after a high school student has a big sports meet or exam. Matriculate has found that these informal check-ins are extremely important in cultivating an authentic relationship.

Cultivating social capital among Advising Fellows. The Advising Fellows are volunteers who gain the opportunity to build their own social capital by meeting weekly on their college campus to share experiences and provide support to other Advising Fellows. In addition, they have the opportunity to apply to be a Head Advising Fellow to be responsible for recruiting and leading future cohorts of Advising Fellows and to receive a monetary stipend. This has also helped drive the retention of Advising Fellows.

Measuring Social Capital

Matriculate first administers a pre-program survey to high school seniors to learn about their existing relationships and the college-going culture at their schools. Students also complete a monthly check-in survey to help program administrators understand with whom students interact both in and out of school. The monthly surveys also ask students to reflect on the quality of their relationships with their Advising Fellows through questions and a checklist. Sample questions and checklist items include:

“I feel comfortable asking my Advisor questions related to my application process.” (5-point Likert scale; strongly agree to strongly disagree)

“Overall, my Advising Fellow has been helpful to me as an advisor.” (5-point Likert scale; strongly agree to strongly disagree)

“Someone reviewed my essays.” (checklist item)

Advising Fellows also complete monthly reports with details of their experiences and real-time session summaries with their high school students, including the number of advising sessions. In addition, Advising Fellows complete a post-program survey to gauge the quality of their relationship with program administrators. Sample questions include:

“Do you feel supported by the staff?” (5-point Likert scale; strongly agree to strongly disagree)

“Do you feel a sense of belonging?” (5-point Likert scale; strongly agree to strongly disagree)

Notable Results


High school students for whom the quality of postsecondary institutions included on their application lists improved significantly after working with their Advising Fellow for six months (compared to 26% who started with quality lists).


High school students who said they felt comfortable asking their Advising Fellows questions.


High school students who said their Advising Fellow has been helpful to them as an advisor.

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