Matriculate: Notre Dame Students Guide 11th- and 12th-Graders Through the College Application Process

Author: Shannon Rooney

MattwinklerSophomore Matt Winkler is an Advising Fellow with Matriculate

Applying to college can be a challenging experience for even the most accomplished high school student. There are online forms to navigate, essays to write, and financial aid paperwork to sort out. Going it alone can be daunting. “I remember putting a lot of work into the college application process, and was lucky enough to have a support system around me throughout the entire process—I always wondered if I would be where I am today without that support network,” says Notre Dame sophomore Matt Winkler.  

During his first year at Notre Dame, that process was fresh in Winkler’s mind when he happened upon a table in the dining hall run by students involved in the newly-formed Matriculate chapter on campus. A national organization, Matriculate is a college-access organization based in New York City that helps high-achieving, low-income high school students make the transition to college by pairing them with advising fellows at leading colleges and universities.

Winkler immediately took an interest and he’s been an advising fellow with the program ever since. “I remember being so excited that a program like Matriculate even existed; it immediately seemed like an organization that had the power to change the futures of so many high school students across the country,” he says. Winkler will soon be serving as the head advising fellow for the next cohort of advising fellows at Notre Dame.   

FellowsNotre Dame advising fellows

A chemical engineering major with a minor in energy studies, Winkler is a valuable resource for the high school students he advises. Most of their conversations are conducted over video calls, which take place from the spring of the high school fellows’ junior year through the end of their senior year. The goal is to mentor the students through every phase of the college application process.

“We get to build relationships with our high school fellows, and we hope to serve as a resource in understanding things like college essays, financial aid, finding colleges that match their academic level, etc.,” says Winkler. But that’s not all advising fellows can offer their advisees. “We also look to help the high school fellows with the more emotionally exhausting parts of the college application process, such as potentially moving far away from home, being the first person in their family to apply to college, and dealing with tough at-home situations.” A Matriculate advisor can advise up to four students, and Winkler advises three students from cities across the country.

Video ConferenceWinkler and high school fellow Aliza Haider chat via video conference.

It’s a full schedule for Winkler who is also an officer for PrismND, a tour guide through the admissions office, and works with the Gender Relations Center through both student government and as Dillon Hall's gender relations commissioner. In addition, Winkler participates in research in an actinide chemistry lab under Professor Peter Burns in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and Earth Sciences. He’s a passionate engineering student whose interests include learning about renewable energy systems and how the use of clean energy can preserve our planet for future generations.

Winkler’s wants the high school fellows he advises to know that opportunities like those he’s had at Notre Dame are available to them too. “Working with my high school fellows is an amazing way to be a part of the movement towards equitable college access,” he says. “I love knowing that my high school students have both myself and Matriculate as a resource to ask questions, be comforted, and most importantly, learn strategies and tips to gain entry to their dream schools. Knowing all the opportunities college can provide, has made me even more excited for their futures.”