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CSU Freshmen to Get an Early Start on Critical Skills

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Erik Fallis
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Early Start Website

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(February 7, 2012) – Beginning this summer, incoming students to the California State University who need to strengthen math and English skills will get a boost through the CSU's "Early Start" program.  The goal is to begin the skills-building process before students arrive on campus for their freshmen year.

Individual campuses will notify students admitted for fall 2012 if they are required to attend the summer program based on entry skills testing.  Students are not required to complete all skills building work during the summer; however, the summer program will be the first opportunity to begin refining those skills. 

More than half of all first-time freshmen attending the CSU are not prepared for college level math, English or both.  This presents a serious challenge, as nearly all courses require these skills.  Students not prepared for college level work are at a disadvantage compared to their peers, which complicates academic performance and degree progress.

"Early Start is a smart start that paves the way for student success," said Ephraim Smith, CSU executive vice chancellor and chief academic officer.  "Students will develop those skills that are tested on a daily basis on university campuses and be better equipped for courses that count toward their degree."

Students participating in Early Start may attend courses at the campus where they were admitted or any other CSU or at a community college.  The standard fee to participate is $182 per unit, but the CSU will waive this fee for students who demonstrate need in their application for financial aid. 

In addition to Early Start, CSU policy gives students a year to complete pre-collegiate work.  Many campuses have developed "stretch" courses with supplemental faculty instruction that count toward a CSU degree and are designed to advance students' English skills.

A Portal to CSU Enrollment

The first indication of whether students need to take entry tests will come in the admission notices to students.  This year, students will also be able to go online to see if they are required to take the English Placement Test (EPT) or Entry Level Math (ELM) exams.  If students need to take the exams, they will be able to register online.

Admitted students will also have access to individualized web pages – "student portals" – that detail what steps need to be taken prior to attending classes in fall 2012.  These requirements may include skills testing and Early Start registration for classes in the summer.

This page will also communicate to students if they are exempt from Early Start due to any of the numerous skills assessment tools, which include Early Assessment Program testing, entry skills testing, or SAT/ACT scores.

Students who are required to register for Early Start will be directed to a web page that will present all of the options available to complete the program.

For more information about Early Start, please visit


About the California State University
The California State University is the largest system of senior higher education in the country, with 23 campuses, approximately 427,000 students and 44,000 faculty and staff. The CSU awards about 99,000 degrees annually and since its creation in 1961 has conferred nearly 2.6 million. The CSU is renowned for the quality of its teaching and for the job-ready graduates it produces. The mission of the CSU is to provide high-quality, affordable education to meet the ever changing needs of the people of California. With its commitment to excellence, diversity and innovation, the CSU is the university system that is working for California.

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