Graphic with yellow grad caps and text for 5 Ways Coaches Support Student Success

What Is College Coaching? Five Ways Coaches Support Student Success

by Julie Kirk

Making Waves Education Foundation » Resources » What Is College Coaching? Five Ways Coaches Support Student Success

One of the core components of Making Waves Foundation’s College and Alumni Program, or CAP, is coaching. Each of our students, known as Wave-Makers, is assigned a College Coach to support them on their higher education journey and path to college graduation.  

What is a College Coach anyhow, you may be asking?

If you’re anything like me, you hear the word “coach” and the first thought you have is about sports. Well, that’s not exactly what a College Coach is.  

But…maybe it’s not that far off, either! College Coaches and athletic coaches do have some things in common, after all.  

What do Golden State Warriors Head Coach Steve Kerr and me – two coaches, different contexts – have in common? Here are five ways College Coaches support student success.

1. We support and build upon our students’ and players’ strengths

A good basketball coach is likely going to put the best ball handler on their team at point guard, because that’s the position their strengths are most suited to. They recognize their players’ strengths and uplift those.

College Coaches do the same!  

We honor our students’ strengths by validating, affirming, and highlighting them as we partner with students in how those strengths can effectively be used to achieve their college, career, or life goals. 

2. We help create plans for growth

If a coach recognizes their team is not excelling in an aspect of the game, they’ll likely create a plan to address it – running drills, practicing game scenarios, drawing up plays, etc.

Similarly, if a College Coach notes that a Wave-Maker might need additional support in one area, we may suggest resources or support to consider seeking.  

For example, if a student says they didn’t perform on a midterm exam as well as they had hoped, we might explore that a bit further together. We may ask questions like, “How did you prepare for the exam?” Then, we may explore study habits, tips, and resources, and partner together to make a plan for adjustments ahead of the next exam. We might also take a look at the student’s sleep schedule and other wellness habits to explore how they are taking care of their brain and body to set themselves up for success!  

3. We support, you execute

Just like in sports, a College Coach is here to support your “game plan” – setting goals, serving as an accountability partner, providing resources for support, and more – but ultimately, the execution of the plan is up to the student.  

The best players are often the most well-rounded – which is why we encourage and support our students in setting goals in a variety of different areas.

Not only is your College Coach here to support your academic goals, but also your wellness goals, professional development goals, leadership goals, community building goals, and so much more. As coaches, we utilize different tools, approaches, and resources to support each student in their unique “game plan.” 

Ultimately, we can’t accomplish your goals for you, but we can and will support you in setting, working towards, and ultimately achieving them!  

4. We are all part of the team

Coaches, players, trainers, equipment managers, and more all make up a team. While the players may be the ones out on the field or court, they have a whole support system behind them, playing their role to contribute to the team’s success.  

Similarly, your College Coach is just one component of your support system – you also have your family, friends, campus community, campus resources, fellow Wave-Makers, and more.

We don’t claim to have all the answers or resources that you need, but we will always be here to help find and access them!  

5. We are here to cheer you on!

The best coaches are encouraging, uplifting, and motivating. They are on the sidelines cheering their team on throughout the game. Your College Coach is here to cheer you on, too!  

Asking for help can take a lot of courage – we invite you to practice that courage by leaning on your College Coach and the rest of your “team” for support.

From your high school graduation to your college graduation and every success and challenge in between and beyond, we are rooting for you and with you every step of the way!  

As a former athlete, I know firsthand how much of an impact coaches can have on the lives of their players. As a College Coach, I can only hope to have a similar impact on the lives of the Wave-Makers I am fortunate enough to get to be “in the game” with.

Every day I look forward to the trust, vulnerability, courage, and joy that Wave-Makers bring me in our work together.

Here at Making Waves, we are all looking forward to another season of building upon your strengths, creating plans for growth, executing game plans, being your teammate, and cheering you on together! 


With a unique focus on college attendance and graduation, Making Waves Foundation supports historically underrepresented and underserved students in pursuing their dreams. Making Waves Academy is a public charter school in Richmond, California, educating more than 1,100 students and Making Waves Foundation’s college success program, known as CAP, provides coaching, scholarships, financial literacy, and career support for more than 500 college students as well as a network for more than 500 Wave-Maker alumni.