Student Transition Empowerment Program

The Student Transition Empowerment Program (STEP) is an initiative in the Office of Diversity, Inclusion, and Multicultural Education (ODIME) 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 5 ½ week residential program from Wednesday, June 20th to Saturday, July 28th, 2018 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.


  1. STEP Academic Year: 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.

Application Requirements:

  • Students are eligible to apply the STEP program if they meet the following criteria:
  • Be accepted into and plan to attend George Mason University as a Freshman for Fall 2018;
  • Be a Virginia resident;
  • Qualify for in-state tuition;
  • Be a first‐time first‐year student;
  • Be a first-generation college student, meaning your parent(s)/guardian(s): (1) did not receive or complete any level of post‐secondary education, (2) enrolled at or earned a two‐year degree from a community college, and/or (3) earned any level of post‐secondary education outside the United States. These students may have older siblings who have completed a degree; and
  • Earned a 2.75 GPA or higher in high school

Application Process

To apply, students should follow these steps:

1) Read, understand, and agree to the Program Requirements, which can be found here.

2) Essay Questions: In the application form you will be asked to upload one document that answers the questions below.  Please answer ALL 4 questions and upload them together into ONE Word or PDF document. Please keep the responses to each question under 500 words, with a maximum total of 2000 words.

You will not be able to save the application and return to upload your document. We recommend that you complete the essay questions in a separate Word or PDF document before uploading your answers.

  1. Why do you want to attend George Mason University?
  2. If selected for STEP, describe how this program can benefit you in college in the following areas: a) academically; b) socially; and c) as an individual at Mason?
  3. Give an example of how you achieved an academic goal. Describe how you motivated yourself to accomplish this goal?
  4. What does diversity and social justice mean to you?

3) Complete the application form: The application can be found by clicking on the button “Apply to STEP program” above.

4) Letter of Recommendation:  As a part of the application process, we require one letter of recommendation.  For a copy of the form, please click the button ”STEP Recommendation Form” above.


Application Deadlines
Priority Deadline: Monday, April 16th, 2018 by 11:59 pm; Students who apply by this deadline receive priority consideration.
Final Deadline: Friday, May 4th, 2018 at 11:59 am (noon); No applications or recommendations will be accepted after this date.

Updated on Tuesday, May 1st, 2018

STEP Promotional Video