Office of Student Life : Creating the Extraordinary Student Experience


Program Overview:

What is STEP?

Ohio State’s Second-year Transformational Experience Program (STEP) was developed as a continuation of the university’s effort to redefine the student experience. STEP is designed to focus on student success and development and allows students the opportunity to engage in activities that cater to their individual interests and needs. A central feature of STEP is giving participants the opportunity to engage with faculty outside of the classroom in one-on-one meetings as well as in group settings. During their time together, STEP Faculty Mentors help students explore unique, educational and enriching experiences. Students are also exposed to developmental opportunities that assist in their professional and personal growth, including financial wellness programming.

What are the benefits of this program?

This program is part of the university’s ongoing commitment to redefine the student experience and has been developed to enhance student success, improve student engagement and satisfaction and contribute to post-graduation success.

What will students do all year?

Throughout fall semester, STEP participants meet with their STEP Faculty Mentor in their “cohort” of approximately eighteen students to set personal goals and explore the six STEP categories (Education Abroad, Internships, Undergraduate Research, Service-Learning and Community Service, Leadership, and Creative and Artistic Endeavors). Furthermore, students have the opportunity to engage in developmental opportunities throughout the year in the areas of career preparation, community engagement/global citizenship, information literacy/academic success, wellness, leadership development and discovery themes.  During spring semester, students will work independently and one-on-one with their STEP Faculty Mentors to create a STEP Signature Project for using the fellowship.   

Can you estimate the total amount of time participating in this program will take?

In total, students will probably spend about one to two hours per week in STEP activities. During autumn semester, the meeting schedule is determined by the STEP Faculty Mentor. These meetings can be quite informal and will be opportunities to come to know their STEP Faculty Mentor and fellow students well and to have deeper discussions about the progress of their college career and STEP experience. During spring semester, meetings will be more flexibly scheduled and may include one-on-one meetings with your STEP Faculty Mentor, small group meetings, or full cohort meetings.

What are the requirements?

STEP participants are required to meet with their STEP Faculty Mentor and attend specified meetings and sessions in both autumn and spring semesters. In addition, students are required to attend at least one of the STEP Expos in fall or spring semester, complete a financial wellness program and three professional developmental co-curricular programs (PDCs) within the following categories: career preparation, community engagement/global citizenship, information literacy/academic success, wellness, leadership development and discovery themes. In order to receive the STEP Fellowship students must also successfully complete a STEP Signature Project Proposal that details their use of the fellowship for one of the six STEP categories, which is then subject for review by their STEP Faculty Mentor and STEP Administration. Completing a STEP Signature Project is optional.

STEP Faculty Mentors:

Who are the faculty mentors?

The STEP Faculty Mentors are part of a specially recruited and selected group of individuals at the university who have shown significant commitment to student development and success.  

Can students choose their faculty mentor?

Students and faculty will be matched based on schedule availability.

Will the faculty mentor be someone affiliated with a student’s major?

Not necessarily.  STEP is designed to help students become more comfortable with faculty interaction, in general, and to create networks across disciplines and areas of expertise.

The Six STEP Categories & Fellowship Funding:

When will students decide on a category for their STEP Signature Project and who can help them make a decision?

Students explore the six STEP categories with their STEP Faculty Mentor throughout fall semester and will work on their proposals in spring.  STEP Faculty Mentors will support students throughout this process.

After the student submits a STEP Signature Project Proposal, is there any possibility of changing the selected project?

Once their proposal has been submitted, students should work directly with STEP Administration if they want to make a change. Students can email or call (614) 247-7837.

When can students use their STEP Fellowship?

The STEP Fellowship is available to students to support the completion of their project during the year after their STEP participation, beginning on the day after the end of spring semester and continuing until classes begin fifteen months later (approximately August 15). Students are not eligible to receive the STEP Fellowship if they graduate immediately after completing their STEP participation. If they graduate during the year following their STEP participation, their project must be completed, the funds must be expended and they must have reported back to the Ohio State community before they graduate. Otherwise, the money provided will be billed to the student and must be paid back before they receive their diploma.

How much funding do students receive for completing this program?

Students who fully complete the program requirements are eligible to receive a fellowship of up to $2,000 to use toward their chosen STEP Signature Project, pending review and approval by their STEP Faculty Mentor and STEP Administration.

Are there rules for how students can spend the STEP Fellowship?

Students should apply the fellowship toward the costs of their proposed STEP Signature Project and follow the STEP Fellowship Requirements. These requirements are communicated with students in STEP.  

Will the fellowship affect a student’s financial aid package?

The STEP Fellowship will be counted as part of their financial aid package during the academic year they use the funding.  In most cases, the fellowship should not affect a student’s financial aid package. Exceptions would be for students who are currently receiving scholarships and grants up to the full cost of attendance each year. Students with questions about how the STEP Fellowship might impact their financial aid should contact BuckeyeLink at