Admissions and Records

Early Start Guide

This is a tutorial only. No login is required.


The California State University (CSU) Early Start Program is for first-time freshmen who have not demonstrated college readiness in written communication and/or mathematics/quantitative reasoning, as determined by CSU system-wide placement standards. Incoming freshmen who are required to take Early Start are expected to enroll in a written communication course or a math/quantitative reasoning course (but not both unless they choose to do so) during the summer period prior to the start of the fall term. For other students, participation in the Early Start Program is strongly recommended. Others may be exempt.

First-time freshmen should use the guide on this page to do the following:

  • Steps 1-5: Navigate to the CSU Smart Page to check whether their Early Start participation is required, recommended or not required.
  • Steps 6-20: Enroll in at least one Early Start class beginning April 18, 2018.  Jump to Step 6.

These pages are also helpful:

If you are a first-time freshman, take these steps:

  1. Find out if you are required, recommended or not required to participate in the Early Start Program by logging into the student Web portal of the campus you will attend in the fall and reviewing the CSU Smart Page, where you will also learn if you are eligible for an Early Start fee waiver.
  2. If your participation is required or recommended, select the location where you will take Early Start classes by completing the CSU Smart Page. If possible, choose the campus you'll attend this fall. If you will attend CSUN, the Early Start location will default to CSUN.
  3. If you are not exempt, register for at least one Early Start class with the campus you have chosen.
  4. If you selected CSUN and are not eligible for a fee waiver, pay fees for CSUN Early Start classes online within two (2) hours of registration.

Step 1

First, find out if you need to participate in Early Start and, if so, whether you're eligible for a fee waiver.

Go to the CSUN home page at and:

If you will attend another CSU campus in the fall term, log into the student portal of that campus to locate the CSU Smart Page.

Log into myNorthridge Portal. 

Step 2

Your myNorthridge Portal "Applicant" page displays.

Select the Home tab. Then:

  1. Locate My Checklist. Just below it is the My Status box, which contains the CSU Smart Page link.
  2. Scroll through the My Status box to the CSU Smart Page link.
  3. Click the CSU Smart Page link. 

The CSU Smart Page link displays in My Checklist.

Step 3

The CSU Smart Page displays. Review it to:

  1. Find out if you are required to participate in Early Start math and/or writing.
  2. Note the school location to take Early Start classes.*
  3. See if you qualify for a fee waiver based on your Financial Aid (FAFSA) application.

*Location Notes

  • Students admitted to CSUN:  CSUN is your default location and submitted for you. You are done with the Smart Page!
    • Remember to log out.
    • Get ready to enroll in an Early Start Class. Skip to Step 6 below.
    • If you must change the location (not recommended), use the drop-down menu to choose a new school and then click the "Confirm Early Start Selection(s)" button. Continue with Steps 4 and 5.
  • Students admitted to a CSU campus other than CSUN:  On the Smart Page in your home-campus student portal, select the location(s) where you will take the required Early Start class(es). Then click the Confirm Early Start Selection(s) button.

The CSU Smart Page has 3 headings: English, Math, and Financial Aid.

Step 4

Note:  Steps 4 and 5 are only required if you are changing the location of your Early Start class from CSUN to another campus (not recommended).

The Confirm Selections page verifies the location you selected to participate in Early Start.

Review the information. Click Cancel to go back or Confirm Early Start Selection(s) to proceed.

Separate English and Math sections confirm your Early Start campus choice.

Step 5

The Final Confirmation page repeats your selections and reminds you to watch for an email with Early Start enrollment information.

  • If you will take Early Start through CSUN but not attend our campus this fall, watch for an "Activate Your CSUN Account" email that includes your user ID and instructions to set your password to log into myNorthridge Portal. You will receive the email 24 to 48 hours after completing your CSU Smart Page.
  • If you chose a different CSU for Early Start, that campus will contact you with enrollment instructions.
  • For accommodations for students with disabilities taking Early Start at CSUN, select the "click here" link.

Print the "final confirmation" page for your records.  Log out (upper right corner).

You have successfully completed the CSU Smart Page still need to enroll in Early Start class(es). You should:

  1. Find out how to search for Early Start Math and Writing classes in CSUN Class Search and select the right class.
  2. Get ready to enroll in your Early Start math or writing class. Continue with Step 6 below.

Once CSUN Early Start class registration period begins, log into myNorthridge and enroll in classes. 


Your Early Start campus selection is confirmed in separate sections.


If you've reviewed (or completed) the CSU Smart Page, understand which Early Start class to take, and Early Start registration is open, then you're ready to enroll in Early Start classes at CSUN.

Log into myNorthridge with your CSUN User ID and Password.

  1. Select the Home tab.
  2. Locate the Early Start box.
  3. Click the Enroll in Early Start Classes link.

The Early Start box should display 24 hours after you complete the Smart Page.

Step 7

The SOLAR Student Center displays.

Under the "Academics" heading, select Enroll in Early Start.

The Academics section has 6 links and a drop down menu.

Step 8

A message window displays confirming whether you are eligible for a fee waiver based on your financial aid application. (Both "eligible" and "not eligible" messages are shown below as examples.)

If you are not eligible, you are reminded to pay for Early Start classes within 2 hours of enrolling.

Click OK to proceed. 

The pop-up message window is a reminder only.

Step 9

Whether or not you are eligible for an Early Start fee waiver, the Fee Payment Notice and deadlines will display.

  • To continue, read and accept the Statement of Financial Responsibility.
  • Your Early Start fees are due within two (2) hours of your enrollment in classes.
  • If you agree, click the button "I have read and understand the above statement."

Questions about Early Start fee payment should be directed to the CSUN Tseng College (extension)

The notice has information for summer and fall terms as well as Early Start.

Step 10

The Select Term page displays.

To return to the Student Center, use the drop-down menu (upper right) and click the "go" icon.

To enroll in Early Start classes:

  1. Select Summer Term. (Early Start classes are held during summer.)
  2. Click Continue

Use the radio button to select summer term, the only choice.

Step 11

The Select Classes to Add page displays, including your summer term enrollment shopping cart.

  • If you know the 5-digit class number, enter it in the Enter Class Nbr box. 
  • If you don't know the class number, no worries. To look up all Early Start classes, select the "Class Search" radio button and then click Search.

The select classes page has two class search tools; we are using Class Search.

Step 12

The Search Criteria page displays. 

  1. In the "Course Subject" drop-down menu, select Early Start Math (ESM) or Early Start Writing (ESW)
  • If you are required/recommended to take both math and writing, the choice is yours though we recommend taking Early Start Math if you are majoring in a STEM-based field (science, technology, engineering or math, and related majors).
  • If your major is not STEM-based and you need Early Start Writing, consider taking one of the ESW online hybrid + General Education (GE) pairings to earn 3 units toward your degree this summer. For help choosing a class, see CSUN Early Start Courses.
  1. Let's select Early Start Math (ESM).
  2. Click Search.

Note: Multiple sections of each ESM course are offered. Choose one based on your major, the campus you will attend in the fall, your schedule, and the number of units you prefer to take. Student pass rates are higher and placement in fall math courses is better when taking a 3-unit, face-to-face ESM course. Read "class notes" carefully!

CSUN Early Start Math (ESM) Courses:

  • ESM 91A (1 unit, in person, 6- or 3-week options): Open to CSUN students and students from other CSU campuses
  • ESM 99 (3 units, in person): Open only to CSUN students majoring in STEM-based fields (see list)
  • ESM 196QR (3 units, in person): Open only to CSUN students not majoring in STEM-based fields

You only need to enter search criteria in the course subject drop down menu.

Step 13

The Search Results page displays all math (ESM) classes and multiple sections of each. (For easier reading, you can use the toggle icon to close a course list.)  Let's choose ESM 99 (3 units). 

  1. Find an ESM 99 math class that fits your schedule. Note: Class meeting dates may vary.
  2. To view a detailed course description, click the 5-digit class number (on the left).
  3. When you're ready to continue, click the Select button.

You can scroll through the list of Early Start Math courses and class sections.

Step 14

The Enrollment Preferences page displays.

To avoid registration errors, review your class selection:

  1. Review the "enrollment information" section. Do you meet the requirements?  ESM 99 is only for STEM-based majors.
  2. Review class start/end dates.
  3. Review "class notes" for special instructions and requirements. ESM 99 is only for students who will attend CSUN in the fall.
  4. If satisfied, click Next

The enrollment preferences page shows details for the class you selected.

Step 15

The ESM 99 math class has been placed in your enrollment shopping cart

Important!  You are not yet enrolled in the class.

  • If you will also take an Early Start Writing class, this is a good time to add it to your shopping cart. Then you can complete the enrollment process for both classes at the same time.
  • If you're taking ESW 99 + a paired General Education (GE) class, you must put both classes in your cart to enroll successfully. Read the ESW 99 online hybrid (OH) "class notes" and jot down the matching 5-digit GE class section number so you can add the right pair to your cart.  

To add the writing (ESW) class to your cart:

  1. Click the Search button.
  2. Look up and select a writing class (repeat Steps 11-14 above).

Click Proceed to Step 2 of 3 to continue.

Your shopping cart is a table that displays alongside the class search tools.

Step 16

Both classes, math and writing, have been placed in your shopping cart.

  1. Review the classes in your cart. 
  2. If satisfied with your selections, click Proceed to Step 2 of 3.

To delete a class, click the trash icon.

The trash icon appears in column 1 of the shopping cart table.

Step 17

The Confirm Classes page displays.

  1. Review your selection(s).
  2. Click Finish Enrolling

The Early Start English and Math classes display in a table.

Step 18

A message window restates whether or not you are eligible for the Financial Aid fee waiver.

If not, be sure to pay fees within two (2) hours of enrolling.

  1. Click OK

 The pop-up window is a reminder of your payment deadline or waiver.

Step 19

The View Results page displays errors or confirms success for your enrollment transaction.

If errors are found:

  1. Review the error message. (ESM 99 is restricted to STEM-based majors.)
  2. Print or take a screen shot of the error message (optional) to discuss with faculty or staff.

The enrollment transaction has errors that must be addressed.

If successful:

  1. Read results and print any messages you want to discuss with faculty or staff.
  2. Click Make a Payment.

The enrollment transaction is complete and successful.

Step 20

The Student Account Information page displays a table of your total charges outstanding, the amount of anticipated financial aid (if any), future charges, and your current balance outstanding, which is due within 2 hours of Early Start class enrollment unless you have a financial aid fee waiver.

To make an online payment with credit card or electronic check, click Tseng College Payment

Please contact the Tseng College of Extended Learning with payment questions.

To return to myNorthridge home, select Back to Portal or Log Out (upper right corner).

The Student Account Information page also shows financial transaction history.