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Welcome to STEP at Salem State! Here's What You Should Know:

The Student Transition and Engagement Program (STEP) is a first year mentoring and coaching program that serves up to 75 incoming first-year students at Salem State University, with a particular focus on students who are Pell Grant-eligible and first-generation college students. Through STEP, students are paired with an academic coach and a peer mentor. The academic coach meets with students every other week to review college success topics. The peer mentor connects with students consistently throughout the semester both individually and as a group for educational and social purposes. Students participating in STEP will successfully transition into college, thrive both personally and academically, and make progress towards their academic and career goals.


Student Transition and Engagement Program (STEP)

Academic Coaching

Meet the Coaches

Some of the topics and themes discussed during the individualized coaching sessions include:

  • Know your Goals, Know Yourself
  • College ≠ High School
  • Time Management 101 and 201
  • Spring and Fall Registration, Priority #1!
  • Study Habits, Peaks and Pits
  • Wellness = College Success
  • Campus Engagement Inventory
  • Campus Opportunities
  • Sophomore Year Transition

Peer Mentorship

Meet the Peer Mentors

Students will be assigned to an upper-class student who has previously participated in STEP. These peer mentors provide both social and academic support by hosting study sessions, group dinners, campus outings or trips to local attractions. In addition to group meetings, the mentors will meet with each of their students one-on-one to touch base throughout the semester. These people are on the front lines and know how to help first-year students make the most out of their college experience.

Event and activities (to name a few...)

  • Welcome Banquet: Meet the STEP staff, hear more about the mission and vision of the program and kick off the new academic year
  • Tie-Dye and Chill: A chance to meet and mix with other STEP students
  • STEP Olympics: Friendly completion among mentor groups to relieve stress during finals and win big prizes!
  • STEP Summits: These half-day educational workshops offered twice a year that are packed with tons of resources for the college transition.
  • Community service events: toy drive, food collection, food distribution, beach clean-ups, etc.
  • And much more!

Application Requirements

You must be a first-time freshmen student at Salem State.

You must also qualify for a Pell Grant. If you are unsure of whether or not you qualify for a Pell Grant, check your FAFSA results or contact the financial aid office via email at or via phone at 978.542.8000.


We accept the first 75 students who qualify so apply today!


Megan Wigton, Coordinator of STEP
Student Transition and Engagement Program (STEP)
352 Lafayette Street
Salem, MA 01970

Hear What Students are Saying about STEP

“In all honesty, I was terrified to come into college. Excited by the freedom, but frightened at the idea of responsibility. I joined STEP because I wanted to get through my first year okay but I got so much more than that. I got a family of individuals who believe in me, comforted me, enlightened me, encouraged me and most importantly guided me. STEP is truly just one of those experiences you never want to miss out on.”

Jane Njeri '20, business administration

“STEP is an amazing program that I would highly recommend to any incoming freshmen. My freshman year had a rough start but I felt so much better about it because I had my Peer Mentor, Academic Coach, and numerous other people in the program who were always there to listen to my problems and help me find the right resources on campus to resolve them. I got constant support that was catered to me and it made me feel so much more welcomed on campus. Without STEP, I probably still wouldn't be at Salem State.”

Sydney Adie '20, media and communications

“Being a commuter student and not familiar with Salem, STEP has really been a huge help in my college career. It has helped me find a home away from home, and an amazing support system to keep me on track. It helped me find a way to fit in at SSU and made me realize that I am never alone; that there is always someone out there who cares and is rooting for me to succeed.”

Aminata Keita '20, world languages and culture, French concentration

“When I was first accepted into the STEP program as an incoming freshman, I had no idea how much being a part would drastically enhance my college experience. Through a low-pressure environment, socially and academically focused events, and most importantly the relations built along the way, it has propelled me to become not only the student but person I am today!”

Max Grayton '18, sports and movement sciences

“Through the STEP program, I quickly learned that my success in college was going to be determined by more than just being present in the classroom. The program provided me with an academic coach who never failed to guide me towards achieving my career goals and introduced me to a peer mentor who supported me, believed in me and served as a true role model. Today, I can confidently say that the encouragement, guidance, acceptance, and support I received from everyone involved in the STEP program played a huge role in my success in college!”

Ana Barros '18, criminal justice

“I am a Latino first-generation student (first one in their family to go to college). I am proud of my identity, but unfortunately being who I am entails certain challenges that put me at a disadvantage in life, society, and education. I was lucky I received the support I needed in my high school years, but when I apply to college I was afraid I would not receive any of this. However, since day one, the STEP program was there for me. The program provided me with all the support I needed, and most important, it taught me to overcome many of the challenges that I have faced during my entire life. There were moments when I thought of giving up and throwing in the towel, but I did not do it, thanks to STEP. Now I am here, after four years, one year away from graduation and ready to succeed in the future ahead of me.”

Javier Rodriguez-Diaz '18, psychology and world languages and cultures, Italian concentration

“My first year at Salem State I would have been completely lost without the Coordinator and my peer mentor from the STEP program. I actually enjoyed the experience so much that I applied to be a peer mentor for the next three years to help other students transition into college like others had helped me. Being a part of STEP gave me a place to belong on campus. It was my home away from home and I always felt welcomed by the students and staff that make up the program. I could go to them with any issue I had, not just academic issues. Honestly, I would not have found my current career path if it were not for the STEP Coordinator. I graduated with my Bachelors of Science in Business Administration, but I found a true passion for Student Affairs so now I am pursuing a Masters of Education in Higher Education in Student Affairs at Salem State University. Working with the STEP program for three years made me realize how important the work of Student Affairs is, especially for underrepresented student populations. I hope to one day be able to help students the way that STEP did for me.”  

Courtney Lillie '17, Business Administration, '19 G

“Through STEP I had the opportunity to attend and present at the First Generation College Student Summit in Amherst with two other STEP peer mentors and it was an eye-opening experience. I learned a lot from many of the other first-generation students there who didn't have the same support that other college students may have. It was great to see how other first-generation students from various schools successfully integrated academically and socially.”

Alexandria Kluge '15, environmental biology, chemistry minor

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