Welcome to SSU's Online Early Start Program (ESP)

If you choose not to complete your ESP requirement at Sonoma State University, you have until June 16 to change your ESP campus location.

Frequently Asked Questions

*If your question is not listed above, then please feel free to contact admissions@sonoma.edu


What is Early Start?

The California State University (CSU) system recently created "Early Start." The goals of Early Start are to better prepare students in mathematics and English composition before their first term at the CSU, thereby improving their chances of completing a college degree. Incoming students who do not demonstrate readiness for college-level mathematics and/or English composition will be required to begin remediation during the summer before coming to the CSU.


Participating in Early Start

Students may complete their Early Start Requirement at any CSU, however, Sonoma State University (SSU) offers a completely online program.


Fast facts about Early Start

  • Early Start is required for incoming freshmen who did not demonstrate readiness for college-level math and/or English on the Entry Level Mathematics (ELM) and/or the English Placement Test (EPT), or other assessment methods.
  • The program takes place the summer before freshmen year.
  • SSU will inform students who must participate in Early Start, how and where to sign up after they submit their Enrollment Deposit.
  • Early Start Math and English courses will be available at every CSU campus and online.
  • Financial aid will be available for those who demonstrate need via the FAFSA.
  • SSU's Early Start Program Courses are completely online.


Important dates for Fall 2017 Early Start Program

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 8
Last day to take EPT/ELM tests for Fall 2017 enrollment May 6
Deadline to declare where Early Start will be completed on the Early Start Smart Page June 16
Registration begins for SSU Early Start courses May 8
First SSU Early Start English Composition online courses begin June 14
First SSU Early Start Mathematics courses begin July 5
Deadline for final official high school transcript and test scores to SSU July 10


Who is required to participate in the Early Start Program?


All students who have an ELM score less than 50.

English Composition:

All students who have an EPT score less than 147.


  • International students and residents of other states.
  • Students exempt from the ELM and or EPT testing requirement based on their EAP, SAT, ACT, or AP test scores.
  • Students who earn a EAP Conditional Math or EAP Conditional English score are exempt from Early Start, if they have taken the appropriate senior year course and have earned a grade of C or better both semesters.


What if I did not complete the EPT/ELM testing requirement by May 6?

If you missed the EPT/ELM testing deadline, and are not exempt from the requirement using other methods, you must sign up and take the next available EPT/ELM. Not taking the required EPT/ELM may jeopardize your ability to enroll in courses at Sonoma State University.


What ways can I complete the Early Start Program?

You may complete the CSU Early Start Program by:

  • Completing specified Early Start courses at SSU;
  • Completing Early Start courses at another CSU campus; or
  • To view specific courses, please visit the Early Start Program schedule


Early Start Math Course Update

Our online Early Start Math course, will allow students to meet their remediation via the completion of the following criteria, regardless of their ELM score:

You can use ESM10 at SSU to complete your math remediation by completing all class requirements:

  • 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.")

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


How to Enroll in an Early Start Course at SSU and Other Registration Processes

Click here for instructions and snapshots of "How to Enroll for an Early Start Program Course"

Click here for a video overview of the My SSU homepage and ARR (Academic Requirement Report)

Click here for video instructions on searching for classes on My SSU

Click here for video instructions on adding classes on My SSU

Click here for video information on class waitlists

Click here for video information on swapping & dropping classes


Which Early Start class do I need to take?

Based on your ELM and EPT scores you will need to sign up for the appropriate level remedial course in mathematics and/or English composition:

EPT (English Placement Test) Scores
0-147 = ESE 10 Early Start Composition Workshop
148+ = Exempt from Early Start English composition requirement

ELM (Entry Level Math) Scores
0-49 = ESM 10 Early Start Math
50+ = Exempt from Early Start Mathematics requirement


What are the deadlines for the Early Start courses offered?

Early Start English (ESE 10) classes are online, and are offered:

CourseStart DateEnd DateLast Day to EnrollLast Pay DateDrop Date
Session 1 June 14 June 20 June 10 June 11 June 13
Session 2 June 21 June 27 June 17 June 18 June 20
Session 3 July 12 July 18 July 8 July 9 July 11
Session 4 July 19 July 25 July 15 July 16 July 18
Session 5 July 26 Aug 1 July 22 July 23 July 25
Session 6 Aug 2 Aug 8 July 29 July 30 Aug 1

Early Start Math, (ESM) classes are online, and are offered:

Course Start Date End Date Last Day to EnrollLast Pay DateDrop Date
Session 1 July 5 August 2 June 29 June 30 July 4
Session 2 July 12 August 2 July 6 July 7 July 11
Session 3 July 19 August 2 July 13 July 14 July 18


How to select a campus other than SSU to complete ESP?

Click here for instructions and snapshots of "How to Select an Early Start Campus"


If I plan to go to SSU but will take the Early Start class at another CSU, how will SSU get my grades?

All of the CSU campuses are coordinating with each other to ensure Early Start participation and class grades are provided to the student's final destination campus. You do not need to obtain a copy of your grades to provide to SSU. The CSU where you take your Early Start class will send them to SSU automatically.


How much will the Early Start Program cost?

Enrollment fees for the Early Start classes are $182.00 each, plus a fee of $1 for Health Facilities and $1 for the Student Union at each campus The CSU makes every effort to keep student costs to a minimum. Fees listed in published schedules or student accounts may need to be increased when public funding is inadequate. Therefore, CSU must reserve the right, even after initial fee payments are made, to increase or modify any listed fees, without notice, until the date when instruction for a particular semester or quarter has begun. All CSU listed fees should be regarded as estimates that are subject to change upon approval by The Board of Trustees.


Are students enrolled in the Early Start Program eligible for a Financial Aid waiver?

Yes. Students who have an Estimated Family Contribution (EFC) of $5000 or less will be eligible for an Early Start Financial Aid Waiver.

*EOP students who don’t have a fee waiver are required to pay for Early Start classes.


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, you may pay your fees via MySSU.


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.


I've been told I have to do Early Start, but I think I should be exempt. What should I do?

Your Early Start required participation is based on your EPT and ELM test scores. If you are exempt from the EPT and/or ELM based on your EAP, SAT, ACT, or AP test scores, then you are likely also exempt from Early Start. If SSU is your destination campus please contact the Admissions Office at 707-664-2778 to verify your exemption.


What if I am not able to take the Early Start class in the summer?

All students are expected to participate in Early Start. Exemptions would be granted only for serious and compelling circumstances. Because you can choose from all of the Early Start programs throughout the CSU, you should be able to find one that fits your needs and circumstances. If you believe you qualify for an exemption, you must submit a letter outlining your reasons and attach documentation. (e.g. doctor's statement, death certificate, disability issues, etc.).

This must be submitted via email to natalie.kalogiannis@sonoma.edu


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 jeopordizing your ability to register for Fall classes.


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, logon to MySSU.

Early Start English:

The English Early Start course is taught via Moodle. On the first day of class, you will be able to login and access your Moodle course. Your instructor will contact you 1-2 days prior to class with instructions on how to begin the course. For Moodle instructions, go to the Moodle Instructions Page

Early Start Math:

The Early Start Math course (ESM10) 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 Moodle page for ESM10. The Moodle 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 2017. 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.


How can I get more information about the Early Start Program?

Go to the Early Start Web Site and/or watch:


Which dates are available from Testing Services at SSU?

Examinees for the following EPT-ELM test meet at Darwin Lobby area, ground floor. Parking permit is required during the weekend. See Location Link off the Main Menu for detail/location & map directions. (Campus Map)
*Students must have a hard-copy/printout of their Admissions Ticket. Students will not be admitted without it.

Test on March 18, 2017
Test on April 8, 2017
Test on April 22, 2017
Test on May 6, 2017

Register for the test here.

The EPT/ELM tests are CSU system-wide exams that can be taken at any available CSU Campus near you. See ETS Bulletin or individual campus testing website for dates, times and registration details.

Additional Questions?

For REGISTRATION information, please contact Adrianne Price at adrianne.price@sonoma.edu

For GENERAL QUESTIONS about the Early Start Program, please contact admissions@sonoma.edu