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College Possible 101: A cheat sheet for AmeriCorps coaches

A College Possible Coach Sits On A Chair. They Look Up – Smiling – At Another Coach In A College Possible Fleece Jacket.

If you’re interviewing for a role as an AmeriCorps service member, or you’ve already landed a service position with College Possible, you may want to learn more about our organization. Whether you’re prepping for your interview or brushing up on the basics before Welcome Weeks, we’ll give you a rundown of what College Possible does, and how you’ll support our mission as a College Possible AmeriCorps coach.

What is College Possible?

College Possible is one of the largest and most successful college access and success programs in the country. Our nonprofit organization matches eligible students with a near-peer coach trained in an evidence-based curriculum to help students overcome the most common barriers to getting into college and completing their degree. The best part is that it’s completely free for students and their families.

While the College Possible headquarters is in Saint Paul, MN, we have eight service site locations across the country. In addition, Catalyze is another program offered by College Possible to university campuses to increase student retention. Currently, Catalyze AmeriCorps coaches serve in eight campuses nationwide. 

For over 20 years, College Possible has served more than 85,000 students from low-income backgrounds and first-generation college students. “Serving with College Possible helped me realize how important it is for students to enroll and stay enrolled in college so that our future as a country remains one filled with promise,” says T’Netha, a College Possible AmeriCorps coach. College Possible college graduates are 24 percent more likely to be employed than their peers who don’t attend college, and they’re estimated to earn $1.2 million more in their lifetime.

What role do AmeriCorps service members play?

AmeriCorps service members are the backbone of College Possible programming. Their coaching and support empowers both high school and college students to persist through educational barriers to complete their college degree.

Every year, College Possible recruits nearly 350 AmeriCorps coaches to serve roughly 25,000 students throughout the country. AmeriCorps coaches serve a 10–11 month service term running August through June or July, with the option to renew their service an additional year. 

The near-peer relatability of a coach is an important contributor to our programming’s effectiveness. Many of our coaches are fresh out of college, or have graduated in recent years. Because of their recent college experience, coaches are able to better relate to common roadblocks the modern student experiences — from navigating the lingering effects of COVID-19 in the educational landscape, to adjusting to evolving systems and software.  

Just as College Possible students use the program to learn, so do AmeriCorps coaches. Many use their service term as a “gap year” before entering grad school, or as an opportunity to build real-life experience before jumping into their career field. 

College access and success coaches are trained on everything they need to know in a month-long onboarding process called Welcome Weeks, before they interact with students. While it’s common for AmeriCorps coaches to have a degree in education, it’s important to note that this is not a requirement for service.

Do college coaches teach classes?

Serving as an AmeriCorps coach does not require an education degree, as coaches do not teach classes. Instead, the role of an AmeriCorps coach is to help students navigate key college milestones like college selection, test prep, applications, and financial aid, all the way through degree completion. Additionally, high school coaches — what we call college access coaches — help students write and edit their college essays, one of the most daunting tasks in college applications. 

“Some students need me as a reminder to get their FAFSA completed on time, while other students need me to help them re-enroll after transferring from their previous school,” says Stacey, a College Possible coach.

Once students gain admission into a college, coaches will assist them in course selection and class registration. From there, a college success coach’s main job is to connect students to existing resources on campus. This can be as simple as helping students overcome the fear of meeting their professor during office hours, or assisting students in finding study groups that fit their specific needs. It can also mean helping students connect with campus financial aid professionals. 

While college access and success coaches do not teach high school or college core curriculum, they play a crucial, and often overlooked, part in ensuring students make it to the degree finish line. “As coaches, we tend to forget that this type of support is some of the most important work we do at College Possible,” says Mireya, an AmeriCorps coach with College Possible. “Yes, we help students with their college applications and FAFSA, but we also get to nurture students’ spirits and help them believe in themselves.” 

If you want to learn more about how our exceptional team of AmeriCorps coaches propels our program forward, register for a free, virtual information session today. Ready to apply for AmeriCorps service with College Possible? Browse our open positions at sites across the country.

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