Student Transition Empowerment Program

The Student Transition Empowerment Program (STEP) is an initiative in the Office of Diversity, Inclusion, and Multicultural Education (ODIME) + Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer and Questioning (LGBTQ) Resources created to enhance the recruitment, engagement and retention of first generation college students accepted to George Mason University. Our mission is to empower students through academic skills, access to resources, community building, self-discovery, and the global citizenship needed to compete in today’s college environment and beyond.


To participate, students must be Virginia residents accepted and committed to attending George Mason University until graduation.

STEP is divided into two key components:

  1. STEP Summer: STEP Summer is a six week residential program from Sunday June 14th to Saturday July 25th, 2020 for selected, first-year George Mason University students. STEP students live on campus during the program (including weekends!), earn three college credits(one class), and build a support network of peers, faculty, and staff prior to the start of their freshman school year; and
  2. STEP Academic Year and Beyond: STEP students who successfully transition from the summer portion continue on as STEP Scholars. STEP Scholars take University (UNIV) 100 together in the fall and participate in ongoing support and programmatic initiatives throughout their time at Mason. Completion of the program allows students to be eligible to apply for the STEP Scholarship

Application Requirements:

Students are eligible to apply to STEP if they meet the following criteria:

  • Be accepted into and plan to attend George Mason University as a Freshman for Fall 2020;
  • Be a Virginia resident;
  • Qualify for in-state tuition;
  • Be a first‐time first‐year student;
    • Be a first-generation college student. George Mason University defines a first-generation college student as someone whose parent(s)/legal guardian(s) applies to ONE of the following: (1) Completed a Bachelor's Degree or community college outside of the United States (2) Highest level of education is from a community college (3) Did not complete a Bachelor's Degree (certifications are not considered equivalent to a degree). If other members in your family (siblings, aunts, uncles, etc.) went to college before you, you are still considered a first-generation college student


Application Process:

To apply, students should follow these steps:

  1. Complete the online application
  2. Have one letter of recommendation submitted by a teacher, counselor, or coach that speaks to your preparedness for the summer program

*Please note: The application will include the following essay questions.  It is recommended that you prepare your responses prior to beginning the application.  Please keep the responses to each question under 500 words.

  1. Why is obtaining a college degree important to you?
  2. How can the STEP program be beneficial to you in achieving this and other personal goals?
  3. Give an example of how you achieved an academic goal. Describe how you motivated yourself to accomplish this goal.
  4. Is there anything else you would like for us to consider in your application?



Application Deadlines:

Priority Deadline:       Sunday, May 3rd,  2020 by 11:59 pm; Students who apply by this deadline receive priority consideration.

 Final Deadline:           Sunday, May 17th, 2020 by 11:59 pm; No applications or recommendations will be accepted after this date.


STEP Timeline (Updated 4/10/20)

  • Staff Interview Dates: April 13th-April 17th; Staff will be confirmed on or before April 24th
  • STEP Workshops will be confirmed by June 1st
  • Participants
    • Priority Deadline: May 3rd, 11:59 p.m.
    • Final Deadline: May 17th, 11:59 p.m.
    • Application Review: May 18th-22nd
    • Selected Student Contract Submission Deadline: May 29th
    • Confirmed Students Registered for Classes: June 1st
  • Staff Training
    • June 1st-July 1st (Weekly for 1-4 hours)
  • Summer Program
    • Program Start!: Sunday, June 28th, 2020
      • Opening Reception: June 28th, 2020
      • Classes Start: Monday, July 6th, 2020
      • Classes End: August 5th, 2020
      • Finals Week: August 6th-8th, 2020
      • Closing Reception: August 8th, 2020
    • Program End: Saturday, August 8th, 2020
    • Post-Program Engagement - Welcome Back Reception!: August 25th, 2020

STEP Promotional Video

Updated on Monday, April 16th, 2020