What is STEP?

STEP program logo

STEP (Summer Transition Enrichment Program) is an invite-only program at American University that provides incoming first-year students with the tools and resources they need for a head start as an Eagle. The primary goal of STEP is to help students succeed in the classroom. This intensive seven-week residential program is built to support the transition to college. It provides students with an academic and social edge, while familiarizing them with Washington D.C. and AU' s campus resources. The program's primary focus is academic success; however, we also encourage students to form lasting friendships through regular social and extracurricular activities.

At CDI (Center for Diversity & Inclusion), our goal is to support students in the STEP program and unify the various resources — both programs and people — available to help students succeed once they are on campus. The key is ensuring those resources are connected to support students holistically. When we see students struggling academically, challenged with an internship or summer opportunity, or looking for ways to engage on campus, we can connect the dots and address students' needs.

For over 20 years, STEP has built a sterling record of student success. STEP has taken many forms over the years but has a consistent record of attracting students who earn national merit awards, including the BOREN Scholarship, White House Internships, Hispanic Congressional Caucus Fellowship, Rangel Summer Internships, and many other AU awards and honors.

STEP participants also complete their education at very high rates. The program lasts for seven weeks during the summer; however, our commitment to STEP students lasts for their entire career at American University.

  • Participants are selected by the Office of Undergraduate Admissions. Any questions about reasons for admission should be directed to them (admissions@american.edu).
  • The Program covers tuition for two 4-credit summer courses, textbooks, housing, most meals, registration for Eagle Summit, access to university facilities, and tutoring support. The Program does not cover tuition to and from Washington, DC.
  • Students are required to live in the university-designated residence hall during the entire program. Weekend home visits and travel are allowed.
  • Students take one college writing course and select one additional 4-credit course to complete over the summer. Students will participate in all classes, workshops, and seminars to successfully complete the program.
  • Before you come to campus for STEP, you should submit the following:
    • Health insurance and immunization forms to the Student Health Center
    • Housing and enrollment deposit to Housing and Dining Programs (information about this should be in your admissions packet)
    • Once STEP ends, you will have a one to two-week break between the end of the program and the beginning of classes in late August.
    • Students should not plan to work during STEP, as the rigorous demands of coursework, seminars, and city exploration often conflict with work hours.
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Group of STEP students with a river and skyline behind them.

A recent STEP cohort had the opportunity to participate in Venture to Volunteer, sponsored by AU's Center for Community Engagement and Service. Venture to Volunteer gives students a chance to acclimatize to DC, explore the burning issues faced by community members, and expose themselves to some of the cultural and historical resources that exist. For instance, STEP students have volunteered at A Wider Circle, Martha's Table, and the Latin American Youth Center (LAYC).

  • Tuition for summer classes includes a Pre-College Writing Seminar (mandatory for all STEP participants, regardless of AP credit) and an additional three credit, graded A-F course which will count towards university core requirements.
  • Textbooks
  • Housing (on-campus housing is mandatory for all STEP participants)
  • Free meal plan for the summer and Eagle Bucks which can be used at various on and off campus locations
  • On-campus tutoring and referrals to other campus academic support services
  • Workshops and university-sponsored extracurricular activities
  • Use of AU's academic, athletic, and recreational facilities
  • Extracurricular activities such as:
    • Bowling, Six Flags, Museum visit, Water Taxi tours, birthday celebrations, movie nights, games, and more.
  • (Students will be responsible for some meals, transportation, and personal expenses while attending STEP)

Students are required to live in the university's residence halls during STEP (weekend visits home are allowed). Student Coordinators also live in the halls to assist students in their transition to AU and to create a living and learning environment comparable to what students will encounter during the academic year. Roommates are paired based on interests, hobbies, sleeping habits, and extracurricular activities, which students share on the STEP Registration Form. You will receive your roommate assignment by early June, along with your room assignment and other important check-in information.

  1. Make sure to fill out your CSS Profile and FAFSA. For any other inquires, click here to visit the Financial Aid website.
  2.  Review your Financial Aid letter and make sure you understand what are your financial options.
  3. Contact AU Central if you have any questions regarding your financial aid package, payment plans, or doubts about any other financial piece.
  4. Accept your financial aid package and make sure you understand the terms and conditions of the university For more information, please email financial aid: financialaid@american.edu.
  1. If you plan to attend STEP and AU, please complete your Enrollment Agreement form through Admissions by May 1.
  2. Complete the STEP Registration Form by completing our Online Form.
  3. All health insurance and immunization forms should be submitted to the Student Health Center prior to arriving to campus for STEP. You may either enroll in the AU Student Health Insurance Plan or use a plan of your choice. Students with non-AU insurance should bring a copy of their insurance card. Learn more about the student insurance requirements and contact the Student Health Center with any questions or concerns. 
  4. Make sure to bring your personal items, such as an alarm clock, a desk lamp, hangers, an iron, linens, pillows, a radio, toiletries, towels, and shower shoes. 
  5. Family members who are attending Eagle Summit will need to register by emailing orientation@american.edu. For more information on Eagle Summit please refer to the orientation office website by clicking here.
  6. Review your email account regularly and communicate any questions and/or concerns you may have to the Center for Diversity and Inclusion at 202-885-3651 or cdi@american.edu.
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Meet the STEP team

Get to know the staff that will be working with you this summer!

Allison Wallen Assistant Director for Student Success, Transition, & Retention

Allison Wallen (she/her) is responsible for managing, implementing, evaluating equity, transition, and student Success initiatives for the Center for Diversity & Inclusion. Within this position Allison will provide programming support to the STEP, District Scholars and First-Generation student populations. Through programing initiatives like bringing awareness to proper mental health practice, multicultural practices of diverse student groups and self-empowerment workshops, Allison enjoys her work with the belief it is helping create the future of humankind! Allison is excited for the impact she can have American University’s campus.

Quintenilla Merriweather Associate Director for Student Equity, Access, & Retention

Quin serves as the Associate Director for Student Equity, Access, and Retention as part of the Center for Diversity & Inclusion (CDI). Before joining AU, she worked in Housing and Residential Life for ten years in various roles and capacities. Working at a mixture of land-grant, religious affiliated, ivy-league, state systems, and private institutions Quin created spaces for equitable practices and resources that carved out a sense of belonging and connection for the students that she worked with and alongside. A huge emphasis of work for Quin was through equitable practices within Student Conduct and Community Standards, Title IX support, resources, and practices, Facilities Management to help troubleshoot after hours concerns, and establishing spaces of support for students traversing mental physical health concerns, to name a few.


Have questions about the STEP program? Check out the frequently asked questions page.

Frequently Asked Questions

Interested in STEP?

At this time we have removed the link for your to indicate wanting to be a part of the STEP 2024 Experience. However, this does not mean that you cannot still possibly particpate. Please email Allison Wallen, awallen@american.edu, Quin Merriweather, quinm@american.edu, or Kevin Medina, kmedina@american.edu with any questions or concerns regarding STEP.