Step to College Program

Our Mission

The Step to College (STC) Program’s mission is to increase the number of first-generation and historically underrepresented students who apply to, attend and graduate from our nation’s colleges and universities. Through college-level courses offered at local high schools, and personalized student mentorships STC provides students in Oakland Unified School District and San Francisco Unified School District with the academic, social and emotional support they need to succeed in higher education.



Step to college logo

The bonds these students form with classmates and STC Program's faculty at the high school level are carried over to the university level where they are channeled into proven retention programs such as EOP and Metro Acadamies. The Step to College Program has raised the sights of non-traditional students and has inspired many to return to their communities during the college years to encourage friends/relatives to increase on levels of educational achievement. STC’s vision is that one day, all students will have the opportunity to earn a college degree that provides them with meaningful economic and personal prospects.

Eric STC Student Speaking

The Benefits

As a student in the Step to College Program, students have the possibility to earn up to 6 college units while still in high school. Step to College students learn skills geared to support the transition from high school to the university. Students receive university credit that is transferable to the CSU, UC, public and private universities of higher learning. Step to College Program students receive:

  • 6 college units
  • SFSU student ID card and access to SFSU campus services, programs and benefits
  • Orientation to college pathway, critical thinking, and college level course work.
  • A direct connection to retention and leadership programs at SF State including: EOP, Metro and varied student organizations.
  • Academic counseling, college/career guidance including support filling out university applications, financial aid forms and scholarship applications.

STC Class in session


Fall - ISED 150 (3 units): Orientation to the University is an introductory course designed to support high school students' early access to the SFSU campus community in preparation for admission into college.

Spring - ISED 204 (3 units): Critical Thinking for Equity and Social Justice is designed to help students develop their analytical skills in wise decision-making while learning the skills necessary to successfully transition from high school to college. This class meets the California State University (CSU) Critical Thinking (A3) requirement, and the SFSU American Ethnic and Racial Minorities (AERM) requirement.


The Step to College Program was launched/instituted in 1986 in San Francisco. The program was designed to promote higher education among underrepresented minorities and low-income students who would otherwise not have the opportunity or the means to attend college Step to College has connected over 15,000 high school students in the bay area to college courses and college instruction.

The Step to College Program is a collaborative effort between public high schools and the Graduate College of Education at San Francisco State University to motivate young people in realizing their educational goals.


  • 1984 - The year prior to implementation of the Step to College Program (STC Program) only 2 Mission High school latino students enrolled at San Francisco State University.
  • 1986 - Step to College Program was founded, by Dr. Jake Perea and Lupe Aravalos at San Francisco at Mission High School.
  • 1989 - One of the original pilot groups enrolled for the fall of 1989 as a first-time freshman
  • 1990 - The Program expands, to include 11 high schools in San Francisco and includes schools in Berkeley, Oakland and Half moon Bay.
  • 2012 - Received the President's Higher Education Community Service Award, the highest federal recognition a college or university can receive for its commitment to community service.
  • 2016 - Step to College has grown to serve over 15,000 students who achieve academic success throughout the Bay Area.

Deborah CurtisPh.D., Step to College Director & Chair, Department of Equity, Leadership Studies, and Instructional Technologies (

Nicole Carrillo, Step to College Instructor (

Romel Jerome Harmon, Step to College Instructor (

Tachelle Herron-Lane, Step to College Instructor (

Shanice Robinson, Step to College Instructor (

Camilo Villa Gomez, Step to College Instructor, (

Affiliated Partners

Antwi Akom, Ph.D., I-SEEED Director & Professor, Department of Africana Studies

Raquel Pinderhughes, Ph.D., Executive Director, Roots of Success Environmental Literacy and Job Training Program & Professor, Urban Studies and Planning

Allyson Tintiangco-Cubales, Ph.D., Director, Pin@y Educational Partnerships (PEP) Program & Professor, Department of Asian American Studies


Jacob Perea, Ed.D., Dean Emeritus, Graduate College of Education