Early Start Program

The CSU system recently enacted a policy requiring a course called "Early Start" that is mandated for incoming students who do not demonstrate readiness for college-level math and/or English to begin remediation during the summer before coming to the CSU. The goals of Early Start are to better prepare students in math and English before their first semester, thereby improving their chances of completing a college degree.

Early Start Program

Early Start Student Participation

Math: All students who have not demonstrated college readiness must participate.

  • EAP, SAT or ACT Conditional Math students that did not meet their conditions.
  • Students that did not earn an exemption based on the EAP, SAT, ACT, AP, IB or completing a college level course that fulfills the requirement in GE Math with a grade of C or better.

English: All students who have not demonstrated college readiness must participate.

  • EAP, SAT or ACT Conditional English students that did not meet their conditions.
  • Students that did not earn an exemption based on the EAP, SAT, ACT, AP, IB or completing a college level course that satisfies the requirement of English composition (GE Area A2) with a grade of C or better.

Students requiring remediation in both English and Math will only be required to complete the Early Start Program for ONE subject area. 

Do Conditionally  Exempt (EAP/SAT/ACT) students have to take the Early Start Program?

Conditionally Exempt students based on EAP, SAT or ACT, are only required to complete the Early Start Program if they do not meet their conditions via multiple measures, including the successful completion of a full-year CSU approved course or activity during your senior year with a grade of “C” or higher.

Program Deadlines and Session Dates

Early Start Key Deadlines

Fall 2019 Deadlines

Last Day to submit SSU Enrollment Deposit

May 1

After submitting the Enrollment Deposit, eligible students may begin to log on to access the Early Start Smart Page and declare where Early Start will be completed

May 7

Registration opens for Early Start Program

May 7

Deadline to declare where Early Start will be completed on the Early Start Page

June 15

First SSU Early Start English Composition online courses begin

June 13

First SSU Early Start Mathematics courses begin

July 5

Deadline to complete Early Start Program activities

Varies by session


SSU Early Start English (ESE 10) Session Dates
All classes are exclusively online

Course Start Date End Date Last Day to Enroll Fees Due Drop Date

Session 1

June 12

June 19

June 8

June 9

June 11

Session 2

June 19

June 26

June 15

June 16

June 18

Session 3

July 17

July 23

July 13

July 14

July 16

Session 4

July 24

July 30

July 20

July 21

July 23

Session 5

July 31

Aug 6

July 27

July 28

July 30


SSU Early Start Math (ESM) Session Dates
All classes are exclusively online

Course Start Date End Date Last Day to Enroll Fees Due Drop Date

Session 1

June 26

July 24

June 20

June 21

June 25

Session 2

July 3

July 24

June 27

June 28

July 2

Session 3

July 10

July 24

July 4

July 8

July 9


Registration Instructions

The Smart Page is where:

  • Students will be able to view their current placement status.

  • If required, admitted SSU students who have accepted their offer will be able to change where they intend to fulfill their Early Start requirement.

To Access the SSU Smart Page:

  1. Login to SSU's Online Services portal
  2. Click on MySSU
  3. Select Application Status
  4. Under Application Status, click on Early Start Program link 
  5. If you change your ESP campus location from SSU to another CSU, you will need to click “confirm Early Start selection”
  6. Once an ESP campus is changed you will need to wait 24-48 hours prior to registering

Early Start Program Registration Instructions

To register for your Early Start Program courses at Sonoma State University, you must first select SSU for Math and/or English on your Early Start Program Smart Page.

  1. Login to SSU's Online Services portal
  2. Click on MySSU
  3. Select the Student Center
    If this is your first time logging in, you will get a voter registration message
  4. Under Student Center, click on Early Start Program link
    A Financial Aid message will pop up notifying you if you qualify for an ESP course fee waiver
  5. At the bottom of the Early Start Program Page, click on the Enroll in Early Start Program
  6. Click Search to view the course list (make sure the class search button is marked)
  7. Enter ESM for Early Start Math or ESE for Early Start English in the subject box
  8. Click Search
  9. You will see the list of available courses. Click on the "Select Class" button for the class you wish to take
  10. You will see the course description. Click "Next" button
  11. Click the "Proceed to step 2 of 3" button
  12. Click the "Finishing Enrolling" button to complete the registration
  13. Click on the Student Center link on the top navigation to display your schedule
  14. Click on Account Inquiry link to view course fees
  15. Click on Make Online Payment

Note: If you are eligible for an ESP fee waiver, you will be notified by a pop-up message during the registration process.

If you have questions or problems registering for your Early Start Program classes, please call Extended Education at (707) 664-2394.

Fees and Financial Aid

Early Start courses offered at any of the CSU campuses will consist of the same fee rate. The current fee estimate is $191 per unit + $2 campus-based fee and is subject to change based on approved fee increases. Campus parking and course books may also be required for purchase.

Early Start Program student

How do I pay for the class?

To ensure your seat in your course(s), we request you pay all fees within 24 hours after enrolling. If your fees are not paid by the Friday before the start of your course(s), you will be dropped.

Online via MySSU:

After enrolling in the appropriate Early Start classes online,  login to MySSU via the Online Services portal to pay your fees.


In-person payments may only be paid by credit card or check in the School of Extended & International Education Monday through Friday 8am-4:30pm.

By Phone:

Credit card payments will be accepted via phone in Customer Service, School of Extended & International Education, Monday-Friday, 8am-4:30pm at 707-664-2394.

What is the refund policy?

A full refund will be honored if you withdraw from the course prior to the first day of class.  You will need to log in to your MYSSU account to drop the course.  Please be advised that no refunds will be issued and you will not be able to withdraw from the course on the first day of class or after.  If you have additional questions please contact Adrianne Price at adrianne.price@sonoma.edu.

Early Start fee waivers will be available for those demonstrating need. California residents who apply for financial aid and have an Estimated Family Contribution of $5,500 or less will be eligible for a waiver for any course meeting Early Start Program requirements.

CSU Early Start Course Options

  • SSU freshmen are encouraged to complete their Early Start program activities at SSU, if at all possible. SSU’s Early Start program consists of one a unit course in English and math. This one unit course offers students an online learning experience and will fulfill the Early Start requirement. Courses will be scheduled from mid-June until early August.
  • Students may also participate in Early Start program offered at any other CSU campus.
  • Students may wish to take an approved course at their local community college. Be aware that space in traditional English and math developmental courses may be very limited at many community colleges and require a community college placement test.

Early Start Math Course Update

Once students successfully meet the following criteria via our summer course, they will then be ready for college level math/GE Mathematics in the fall:

  • Spend the required 45 hours working through online assignments in the program ALEKS; and
  • Complete and receive passing scores on 4 writing assignments that are part of the course; and
  • Demonstrate proficiency in the subject material of the course through online assessments in all subject areas (i.e... Complete your ALEKS "pie" and score above 90% on a "Goal Completion Assessment")

I've registered for the online Early Start English/Math class(es). How do I access it?

Those students attending SSU in Fall will have your Seawolf username and password. For those students attending another CSU in Fall, you will need to create your username and password 24 hours after you select your campus location, login to MySSU via the Online Services portal.

Early Start English:

The English Early Start course is a fully online course taught via Canvas that introduces students to the kinds of college-level reading and writing experiences they can expect in their first year of college. On the first day of class, you will be able to login and access your Canvas course. Your instructor will contact you 1-2 days prior to class with instructions on how to begin the course. For Canvas instructions, go to the Canvas Help Page. If you have questions before starting the course, you can contact the Early Start English Coordinator, Dr. Megan McIntyre at mcintyme@sonoma.edu.

Early Start Math:

The Early Start Math course (ESM100) is a fully online course using the web-based ALEKS (Assessment and LEarning in Knowledge Spaces). All of the relevant course information, including the access code for logging into ALEKS, will be posted on the course Canvas page for ESM100. The Canvas page will be activated 1-2 days before the first scheduled day of the course.

What services are available for students with disabilities?

Students requiring reasonable accommodations to take part in the Early Start Program need to contact the office providing services to students with disabilities at the CSU campus they will attend in Fall 2019. Students will be required to establish their eligibility for reasonable accommodations by providing appropriate disability documentation from a qualified treatment provider. Disability documentation must clearly describe the student's present functional limitations. Reasonable accommodations for the Early Start Program will be prescribed from the CSU campus from which the student will be attending.

ESP Contact Information

If you have questions about the ESP, please email admissions@sonoma.edu or call 707-664-2778

Registration questions about ESP, please email extendeded@sonoma.edu

ESP grades are received electronically from all CSU campuses.

What if I do not participate in the Early Start Program?

If you do not complete your Early Start Program requirements during the summer, you may be jeopardizing your ability to register for Fall classes.

What if I am required to attend the Early Start Program, but cannot?

Students who are unable to participate in Early Start over the summer must submit an appeal to the Admission office as soon as possible but no later than four weeks prior to the start of the Fall term. To submit your appeal, please email admissions@sonoma.edu . Appeals must include supporting documentation  (e.g. doctor's statement, death certificate, disability issues, etc.).to support the extenuating reason they are unable to take the online SSU ESP course(s). Appeal decisions are final.