Current Students

Early Start Guide

This is a tutorial only. No login is required. 


The California State University (CSU) Early Start Program provides first-time freshmen with additional academic support to prepare for college mathematics/quantitative reasoning and/or written communication courses during the summer before their first fall semester. Student participation is based on CSU multiple measures of academic placement

Incoming freshmen who are required to take Early Start are expected to complete an Early Start Math or Early Start Writing course (but not both unless they choose to) this summer. For some students, participation in the Early Start Program is strongly recommended. Others may be exempt.

If you are a first-time freshman, this guide explains how to navigate to the Early Start Program Page to:

For dates, fees, exemptions, courses and more, visit CSUN Early Start Program Overview, including Early Start advantages.

Step 1

Go to the CSUN home page at and:

If you were admitted to another CSU campus this fall, log into the student web portal of your home campus to locate the Early Start Program Page.

CSUN home page with portal login box open

Step 2

Your myNorthridge Portal "Applicant" page displays.

  1. Select the Home tab. 
  2. In the Quick Links box, select the SOLAR Student Center icon.

 Portal Home tab, Quick Links box and Student Center link

Step 3

The SOLAR Student Center displays. 

In the "Academics" section, select the Early Start Program link.

Student Center has 3 sections: Academics, Finances, and Personal Information

Step 4

The Early Start Program Page displays. Review it for:

  1. Your placement—exempt from, strongly recommended, or required to participate in Early Start Math (ESM), Early Start Writing (ESW), or both.
    • If both ESM and ESW are required, you may opt out of ESW only.
    • Check the ESW Opt Out box to take ESM only.
    • You must enroll in at least one Early Start class if either is required.
    • You may take both ESM and ESW if desired.
  1. Your eligibility for an Early Start fee waiver based on your financial aid FAFSA application.
  1. The school location to take Early Start class(es). CSUN is selected for you.
    • Take Early Start with your home campus if possible. See advantages.
    • Nearly all Early Start classes at all campuses, including CSUN, are held fully online this summer.
    • If you must change the location, choose a different CSU campus from the School drop-down menu. View Early Start courses offered at all CSU campuses. Please read "Location Notes" below.

Important:  The last day to change your Early Start campus location is June 11, 2021.


Students admitted to CSUN:

  • If you change nothing, you may enroll in CSUN Early Start classes immediately!  Select the Enroll in Early Start Program button. See Step 7 below.
  • If you opt out of ESW or ESM classes, or change the school location, select the Confirm Early Start Selection(s) button to record your changes. Continue to Step 5 below

Students admitted to another CSU campus: If you selected CSUN as the location to take Early Start in your home-campus student portal, we will email enrollment instructions to you. Skip to Step 6 below.

Tip: To exit the Early Start module at any time, choose an option from the drop-down menu (upper right) and select the “Go” button.

Early Start Program Page for placement, fee waiver, location and selections

Step 5

Note: Steps 5 and 6 are required only if you are opting out of Early Start Writing (ESW) or Early Start Math (ESM) at CSUN and/or changing the location of your Early Start class from CSUN to another CSU campus (not recommended).

  1. The Confirm Selections page verifies:
    • Your opt-out choices if any
    • The location you chose to participate in Early Start if changed*
    • Your eligibility (or not) for the financial aid Early Start fee waiver
  1. Review the information. Select Cancel to go back or Confirm Early Start Selection(s) to proceed.

*If you change the school location, you must wait to enroll. See the next step.

First step to confirm opt-out and school location changes

Step 6

The Final Confirmation page repeats your selections.

  • If you are only opting out of ESM or ESW classes, you may enroll immediately.
  • If you are choosing a different CSU campus for Early Start, that school will email enrollment instructions to your CSUN Gmail account. You must wait to enroll through the host campus student portal.
  • If you will take Early Start at 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 hours after completing your Early Start Program Page.
  • To register for accommodations for students with disabilities, select the link to CSUN’s Disability Resources and Educational Services.


  1. Print the "Final Confirmation" page for your records.
  2. Select the Return to Early Start Program Page.

Second step to confirm opt-out and location changes with instructions

Step 7

On the Early Start Program Page, select the Enroll in Early Start Program button.

  • CSUN students can enroll in Early Start classes immediately.
  • Students from other CSU campuses will see the button after they activate their CSUN account, log into myNorthridge Portal, and navigate to the Early Start Program Page (see Steps 1-3 above).

To enroll in Early Start Math, see Step 10. To enroll in Early Start Writing, see Step 14. Please review all steps.

The Enroll in Early Start button is at the bottom of the page

Step 8

The Student Fee Payment Notice displays important disclosures, acknowledgements of financial responsibility, Form 1098-T information, and where to find your account charges and payment deadlines.

IMPORTANT: If you are not eligible for the Early Start fee waiver, your fees are due within two (2) hours of your enrollment.*

To continue:

  • Select the “yes” or “no” boxes for electronic delivery of your IRS Form 1098-T. This form helps students and families determine if they are eligible for an Education Tax Credit. Helpful: About the 1098-T Disclosure Statement
  • Read the Statement of Financial Responsibility.
  • If you agree, click the button "I have read and understand the above statement."

*Please direct questions about Early Start fee payment to the CSUN Tseng College (extension).

Payment Notice, Statement of Financial Responsibility and 1098-T info

Step 9

A pop-up window confirms whether or not you are eligible for an Early Start fee waiver based on your financial aid FAFSA application. (Both "eligible" and "not eligible" messages are shown below as examples.)

  • If you are eligible for the waiver, you are not required to pay fees when you enroll in an Early Start course and can disregard the 2-hour payment message at the time of your enrollment.
  • If you are not eligible, you are reminded to pay for Early Start classes within 2 hours of enrolling.

Select OK to proceed. 

A pop-up window confirms eligibility for the financial aid waiver or not

Step 10

  1. The Select Term page displays.
    • Select the Summer Term radio button.
    • Select Continue.
  1. The Select Classes to Add page displays, including your empty enrollment shopping cart.
    • To look up Early Start classes, select the Search button.

Summer Term radio button, Early Start Class Search, and enrollment cart

Step 11

The Enter Search Criteria page displays.

  1. From the “Subject” drop-down menu, select Early Start Math (ESM) or Early Start Writing (ESW).
  2. Choose Early Start Math, for example. Then select the Search button.


  • If you are required and/or recommended to take ESM and ESW, both options will display in the drop-down menu. Select the subject you wish to take.
  • If you are exempt from ESM or ESW, the subject will not display.

The Search Results page displays only the ESM 196P class section(s) for your STEM or non-STEM major.*

  1. If your major is “exploratory,” you will see all ESM 196P sections for all majors (shown below).
  2. To identify STEM or non-STEM sections, review Class Notes (see next step).
  3. To view a detailed course description, select the 5-digit class number in the left column, 10918 in this example.
  4. To proceed, choose the Select button in the right column.

*STEM = Science, Technology, Engineering or Math majors. For guidance on choosing an ESM class for STEM, non-STEM, and exploratory majors, see Early Start Math and/or Writing Courses at CSUN.

Subject search drop-down menu and search results for Early Start Math

Step 12

The Enrollment Preferences page for ESM 196P, section 10918, displays. Review this page carefully for special instructions:

  1. Enrollment Information: The class is “fully online asynchronous” (FOA).
    • There are no on-campus meetings.
    • No attendance at scheduled online meetings is required. The course is self-paced with tutoring available.
    • Read more about online course types.
  1. Class Notes: The notes confirm that section 10918 is open to STEM majors. Students whose major is “exploratory” may also enroll.

Select the Next button.

ESM 196P Enrollment Preferences page with Class Notes for STEM majors

Step 13

Back on the Select Classes to Add page, ESM 196P, class section 10918, appears in your enrollment shopping cart. Congratulations! But…you are not yet enrolled in the class!

  • To finish enrolling in ESM 196P alone, select the Proceed to Step 2 of 3 button. (Skip to Step 18 in this guide.)
  • To add the two Early Start Writing courses, select Search again.*

*As explained above, you are not required to enroll in all Early Start classes though you can if you like. To remove a class from your cart at any time, select the trash can icon.

Early Start Class Search page with ESM 196P in shopping cart

Step 14

The Enter Search Criteria page again displays.

Important: Early Start Writing requires concurrent enrollment in two classes: ESW 113A and UNIV 61ESW.

  1. Select “Early Start Writing” from the Subject drop-down menu.
  2. Select the Search button.

The Search Results page displays one or more open sections of ESW 113A – Approaches to University Writing, Part A.

For Summer 2021, ESW classes are fully online  synchronous (FOS). You’ll need to attend class online at scheduled times. Read more about online course types.

  1. Review “Days & Times” to make sure you are available to attend meetings online with the instructor and other students during the required hours. For example, ESW 113A, section 01, class number 10864, requires you to be present online Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays from 9:00-10:40 am.
  2. A second meeting pattern row is “TBA,” meaning that you will also study outside of the scheduled times in this 3-unit class.
  3. To view a detailed course description, select the 5-digit class number in the left column.

To continue, choose the Select button for section 01, class number 10864.

Search for Early Start Writing classes starting with ESW 113A

Step 15

The Enrollment Preferences page for ESW 113A, section 10864, displays important details:

Enrollment Information: 
  • The corequisite pairing of ESW 113A with UNIV 61ESW is listed.  You must enroll in both classes at the same time.
  • ESW 113A is “fully online synchronous” (FOS). These classes have set online meeting times in addition to independent work.
Class Notes- Review for special instructions:
  • FOS classes have scheduled meeting times online. You are expected to attend online with the instructor and other students for the entire class session each day. There are no on-campus meetings.
  • The concurrent enrollment note explains that you must concurrently enroll in ESM 113A section 01, class number 10864, and UNIV 61ESW, section 01, class number 10906. They are corequisite classes. 
To proceed:
  1. Write down the UNIV 61ESW section 01 class number 10906. You'll need it later. Also note the 5-digit class number for ESW 113A-01, 10864.
  2. Select the Next button.

ESW 113A Enrollment Preferences page with UNIV 61ESW concurrent enrollment note

Step 16

The Select Classes to Add page displays again. 

You’ve successfully placed ESW 113A (10864) into your shopping cart.  But…you are not yet enrolled in the class.

You must also add the corequisite UNIV 61ESW Supplemental Instruction (SI) section 10906 to your cart before you can finish enrolling. (To see what happens if you don't, go to step 21 below.)

  1. Select the Search button again.
  2. Select “University” from the subject drop-down menu.
  3. The available section(s) of UNIV 61ESW display. Note that online attendance is required Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays from 10:45 to 11:35 am.
  4. Select the 5-digit class number 10906 to view the course description, or choose Select to proceed.

Three overlaid images to look up and find the matching section of UNIV 61ESW

Step 17

The Enrollment Preferences page for UNIV 61ESW section 01 (10906) displays.

  1. Review the Class Notes to confirm that you have the right pairing of ESW 113A (10864) and UNIV 61ESW (10906).
  2. Note that this class is also fully online synchronous (FOS). Your attendance is required online during the days and times indicated.

Select the Next button.

UNIV 61ESW Enrollment Preferences page indicates ESW 113A corequisite section

Step 18

Back on the Select Classes to Add page, UNIV 61ESW-01 (10906) has been added to your cart.

With both corequisite classes in your cart, you can now finish enrolling.

Note: This student also has ESM 196P in his cart as an example only.

  • You are not required to take both ESM and ESW.
  • To remove an Early Start class from the cart, select the trash can icon.

Select Proceed to Step 2 of 3.

Shopping cart is fully loaded with ESM 196P, ESW 113A and UNIV 61ESW

Step 19

The Confirm Classes page displays. Review your selections.

  • To exit without adding, select Cancel
  • To return to your shopping cart, select Previous.
  • To process your enrollment request, select Finish Enrolling.

Click the OK button.

Confirm Classes page with Finish Enrolling button

Step 20

A pop-up window again reminds you of your eligibility (or not) for the financial aid fee waiver (shown in Step 9 above), followed by another pop-up that alerts you to the 2-hour time limit to pay for your Early Start classes.

  • If you did not apply for financial aid and/or you do not qualify for the Early Start fee waiver, you may be disenrolled* from some or all of your classes if you do not pay on time.
  • If you are eligible for the Early Start fee waiver, you can take the classes at no cost to you and disregard the 2-hour payment message. You are still responsible for purchasing course instruction materials and parking if any.

*Disenrollment means that your class enrollments are cancelled. Contact the Tseng College (extension) for assistance.

Select the OK button to close each pop-up window.

 Two pop-up reminders for fee waiver eligibility and payment due in 2 hours

Step 21

The View Results page displays errors (red X) or confirms success (green check mark) for your enrollment request.

If errors are found:

  1. Review the error message. ESW 113A cannot be added because the corequisite UNIV 61ESW class was not placed into the shopping cart before the student selected “Finish Enrolling.”
  2. Print or take a screen shot of the error message (optional) to discuss with faculty or staff in Admissions and Records.
  3. To go back and add the right section of UNIV 61ESW to your cart, select Add Another Class.

Results show enrollment errors (red X) because corequisite course is missing

If successful:

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

Results show enrollment success (green check marks)

 Step 22

 As mentioned above, you are not required to take both ESM and ESW classes though you can if you choose to.

Consider this:

  • Without the financial aid fee waiver, the summer 2021 course fees and $2 campus fee for ESM and ESW will total $957. However, doing well in Early Start this summer may save you time and money in the fall.
  • If you are eligible for the fee waiver, taking both ESM and ESW offers a great value if you’d like to study this summer.
  • For guidance, consult with your academic advisor.

If you decide to drop one of the Early Start classes you have enrolled in:

  1. Return to the Early Start Add Classes page (shown below). Your schedule of enrolled classes displays at the bottom.
  2. Select the Drop tab at the top of the page and follow the steps to remove a class from your schedule.

The deadline to drop an Early Start class using self-service registration is June 20, 2021. Helpful: Early Start Key Dates

Select classes to add page with class schedule and drop tab to remove a class

Step 23

When you select "Make a Payment," the Student Account Information page displays a table of your total charges outstanding, the amount of anticipated financial aid (if any), future charges, your current balance outstanding, and payment due date(s).

Unless you are eligible for the financial aid fee waiver, fees for Early Start classes are due within 2 hours of enrollment.

In the image below, the amount owed is $766 because the student has enrolled in 4 units. Early Start fees are $191 per unit* plus a $2 campus fee.

  • 1 unit = $191 + $2 (ESM only)
  • 4 units = $764 + $2 (ESW and UNIV)
  • 5 units = $955 + $2 (ESM, ESW and UNIV)

*Fees are subject to change based on approved fee increases. Read more about Early Start course fees, financial aid and the Early Start fee waiver.

  1. To make an online payment with credit card or electronic check, select the "Tseng College Payment" button. Please contact the Tseng College (extension) with payment questions.
  2. To view your Early Start class schedule:
    • From the drop-down menu in the upper right corner, select Student Center.
    • Select the "Go" button.

Student Account Info page with amount owed (zero or $766) and due date

Step 24

The SOLAR Student Center displays.

  • Return at any time to view your summer Early Start class schedule.
  • Under the Finances heading, select the Account Information link to view your outstanding charges, account balance, and financial aid if any.

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

SOLAR Student Center with your Early Start class schedule and logout button