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Is the program Early Start a requirement for every student joining CSU?

I am preparing for the SATs, and I look forward to joining college later in the year. I came across Early Start which requires students to begin coursework during the summer before entering their first year. I am eyeing a spot at California State University; therefore, I would like to know if I should prepare for the CSU early start.

Does every first-year student go through this Early Start program or is selection dependent on the course you wish to pursue? How does this Start Early policy work?

Amanda Johnson

in Events and Holidays

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Jennifer Patterson on June 21, 2018

CSU’s Early Start, is not for every student who joins the university. In simple terms, the program focuses on students who do not meet a pre-determined threshold in English, Math or quantitative reasoning. So, you may reach the minimum university requirement for acceptance to the university but not enough to stand in the same competitive level as other new students. This program requires such students to take coursework for skills development in summer before officially joining CSU in August/September.

Having the program as a requirement before you first semester also means additional college costs. When you take your English or math courses at any of the university’s campuses, you will pay approximately $182 fee for each unit you take. You may incur additional college costs for specific course requirements. In-state students who have applied for financial aid and with a Family Contribution of below $5000 can qualify for unit fee waiver.

Like any other university, CSU reserves the right to revise the fee structure. The standard fee is subject to increment when the university allocated public funds is not adequate. What should you expect to gain from the program?

The primary purpose of Early Starts’ courses is to prepare new students for their college degree program. The logic is that when a student acquires the necessary skills in writing and math before they begin college; there is an improved chance that they will complete their degree program.

Characteristics of the program:

  • This program usually takes place during the summer just before the commencement of the academic year in which you enroll.
  • Students who must attend this program are informed about it upon acceptance of their admission application.
  • The program’s math and English courses are available at all the university campuses, and community colleges.
  • Financial assistance is available by need.

However, proficiency in the mentioned areas is not the only criterion that exempts you from the Early Start programs’ courses. Two categories of students do not need to enroll in the program regardless of whether they meet the numerical and language proficiency threshold:

  • Students enrolled in the EOP Summer-Bridge program and;
  • International students or US students from other states outside California.

If you feel that your performance was affected by factors beyond your control, you can always appeal the decision through your campus admission office. If after your admission you are required to take this program, starting early on preparations will help you adjust to college life. 

Tad Frazier2 years ago

Well, we agree that no student would wish to spend their summer on campus doing early start coursework when other high school graduates are still enjoying their extended break. Unfortunately, most students don’t get information about these programs by some universities adequately early. What many high school students don’t know is that proficiency in math and English is crucial to college success regardless of your college major. Even if you don’t mind spending your summer in college (it helps you adjust to college life before your first semester commences), it is still relatively costly.

The only way to avoid not meeting the university threshold is working extra hard in the two subjects. California State University follows a set of standards that evaluate your performance in state exams and admission exams such as SATs. So, before you apply for enrollment to the university, ensure that you are thoroughly prepared in Math and English. 


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