Can you believe that the semester is almost over?! Finals are just weeks away, and your freshman year is coming to a close. When I was in your shoes last year, I was sad to see the year coming to an end because I had made so many awesome memories and friends. I was also excited to be entering my sophomore year mostly because of STEP. When I checked that little box on my housing form, I did not know what to expect, but participating in STEP this past year has been a great experience!
Sounds Awesome! But what is STEP?
STEP stands for Second-Year Transformational Experience Program, and it is designed for second-year students who decide to live in the residence halls for a second year. The program pairs you up with a faculty member advisor who reviews and approves a proposal about how you plan to spend your $2,000. Yes, that’s right, I said $2,000. The $2,000 grant can be used towards one or more of six experiences: Artistic and Creative Endeavors, Internships, Leadership, Service-Learning and Community Service, Study Abroad, and Undergraduate Research. There are also required co-curricular events to attend about everything from staying fit to applying to grad school.
The process of deciding what you want to do with your money, writing that proposal, and attending those required events may seem daunting, so I have come up with four steps to help you succeed in STEP (pun intended)!
1. You do not have to commit to an experience right away.
When I first started the STEP process, I did not know what experience I was going to choose. I was debating between using the grant for an internship or study abroad. I finally decided in February that I was going to study abroad in London in May of 2015. I was even one of the first of my friends to pick an experience. Some of my friends were still deciding at the beginning of March! Take your time to decide on an experience because if you are passionate about what you will be doing, it will be much easier to write your proposal.
2. Start writing your proposal as soon as possible.
I wrote my proposal all in one sitting and that was not fun. The proposal includes a two-page summary of the details of the experience you will be participating in, a one-page personal statement, and a budget and explanation of how you will be spending your grant. Did I mention that it all has to be single-spaced? If you break up the writing of the proposal it goes by really fast. After all, you have a year to write it. Even if you are not sure how you will be spending the grant, it is still worthwhile to write the personal statement.
3. Keep in touch with your faculty member.
The faculty members who are part of the STEP program volunteered to participate, so they genuinely enjoy getting to know students both inside and outside the classroom. Your faculty advisors want to help! My faculty advisor was Dr. Bartoszek-Loza who teaches some general chemistry classes. I never had her as a professor for my chemistry classes, but I am really glad that she was my STEP advisor. She was always so enthusiastic and encouraging about the ideas I had, and she gave me a lot of advice on life in general. Your STEP advisor is there as a resource and mentor, so make the most of it!
4. Keep an open mind.
This may be the best advice I can give you in regards to STEP. The STEP program is all about experiences that you would not normally get the chance to have. Pick co-curricular programs that focus on global awareness or professional development. Meet with your faculty advisor one-on-one. Spend your $2,000 on an experience that pushes you outside your comfort zone. I promise that you will be glad that you did.
So if you made it this far through this post, and are wishing you had signed up for STEP, never fear! If you are interested in participating in STEP for 2014-15 and you did not sign up when renewing your housing contract for your second year, simply contact Chelsea Black at 614-292-8266. You can also learn more about the STEP program at step.osu.edu.