Prospective Students

Pathways to Excellence FAQs

* * * Summer 2024 * * *

You’re in the right place for CSUN’s Pathways to Excellence (P2E) Program for first-time freshmen!
The information below is for summer 2023, but planning is underway for summer 2024. Please check back here for updates early next year.

In the meantime to learn more about the program, fill out our P2E Interest Form.

General information — Summer 2023

What is Pathways to Excellence?

Pathways to Excellence (formerly known as Early Start) is a summer program to support eligible first-time freshmen in college-level course work in math, and help students build confidence and develop their own plans for success. There are two program options:

  • Math and First-Year Connections is a four-week, in-person program consisting of University 100 and Early Start Math 196P.
  • Math Connections is a three-week math program (Early Start Math 196P) with fully online and online hybrid (half on campus and half online) options.

Pathways to Excellence can save you time and money during your academic career. By doing well in the program, you can earn college-level credit in just three or four weeks! For math, successfully completing the program can accelerate your math placement or reduce the number of units you take to complete your math requirement.

The program also gives you the opportunity to make friends, get to know faculty and staff, learn your way around campus and generally get a head start on settling into college life at CSUN.

Who can participate?

Pathways to Excellence is for first-time freshmen from California. Your invitation to participate in the program is based on multiple measures such as high school GPA, high school math GPA, high school/college course work, and your declared major and self-disclosed information on Cal State Apply.

You will be notified via your CSUN email and by mail if you’re eligible to participate in Pathways to Excellence. The program link will also appear in the Student Center inside your CSUN Portal.

If you are scheduled to participate in one of the summer programs listed below, don't sign up for Pathways to Excellence:

  • CSUN’s Educational Opportunity Program (Summer Bridge)
  • CSUN's MARC/MBRS Math and Language Arts Summer Enrichment Program
  • CSUN's Student Athlete Summer Success Program

Additionally, you should not sign up for Pathways to Excellence if you are:

  • A nonresident student (i.e., from out of state or international)
  • A student veteran or serving on active U.S. military duty
  • Scheduled to take Math 131 in the fall

If you have questions about whether or not Pathways to Excellence is right for you, please contact the Pathways to Excellence team at

Why should I participate in Pathways to Excellence?

The transition from high school to college can sometimes feel overwhelming, both as you get used to a new, much larger campus and as you adjust to new professors and student expectations. The earlier CSUN prepares you for the transition to our campus, the easier it will be to develop a plan to successfully complete your first-year courses at CSUN.

As a Pathways to Excellence participant, you’ll enjoy networking opportunities, community building, support with campus technology and summer access to campus services such as the Student Recreation Center, the Oasis Wellness Center and the Klotz Student Health Center. The support you enjoy while attending the summer courses will continue throughout your first year at CSUN via mentorship, workshops and coaching.

How do I obtain an accommodation to participate?

To discuss accommodations to support your participation in Pathways to Excellence, please contact Disability Resources and Educational Services (DRES) or NCOD: Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Services.

How will I know if I’m eligible for Pathways to Excellence?

If you’re eligible to participate in Pathways to Excellence, you’ll receive email and postcard messages inviting you to join the program. Be sure to check your CSUN email! Program information will also appear in your CSUN Portal in the Student Center.

I have questions about Pathways to Excellence. How can I learn more?

If you don't find an answer in these FAQs, please email us with questions. Be sure to include your nine-digit CSUN student ID number and the best way to reach you (by email or phone).

You can also sign up for an online information session via Zoom, scheduled for sometime in May 2023. If you are eligible for Pathways to Excellence, you will receive an info session invitation in May. Again, please check your CSUN email regularly.

Program and Schedule — Summer 2023

What is included in the Pathways to Excellence program?

The Pathways to Excellence program not only offers college-level courses but also a well-rounded experience for eligible first-time freshmen this summer.

Pathways to Excellence has two program options:

  1. Math and First-Year Connections — This option introduces first-time freshmen to college life and learning, self-discovery and wellness. Students attend two courses — University 100 and Early Start Math 196P — in addition to the following activities:
    • Meet and greet with professors, peer mentors and classmates.
    • On-site visits to campus resources and services.
    • Tutoring and/or coaching.
    • Panel discussions.
    • Lunch together each day.
    • Test preparation.

    Math and First-Year Connections classes meet on the CSUN campus Monday through Thursday, four hours a day, for four weeks. Morning or afternoon schedules are available.

  2. Math Connections — This option includes the mathematics ESM 196P course only and offers an accelerated review of elementary algebra and an introduction to higher-level math topics. In addition to the course, Math Connections includes the following activities:
    • Breakfast on the first day.
    • Peer mentoring.
    • Tutoring and/or coaching.
    • Snacks at on-campus meetings (hybrid classes only).
    • Test preparation.
    • Last-day, in-class celebration.

    Math Connections classes meet 2½ hours a day, twice a week for three weeks. There are several schedule options:

    • Monday and Wednesday, or Tuesday and Thursday meetings.
    • Morning, afternoon or evening classes.
    • Class sections for STEM and non-STEM majors.
    • Fully online (no on-campus meetings) or hybrid (half online/half on campus).

    For detailed program and course descriptions, visit Learn about the program.

    Join us this summer to discover your strengths and interests and become part of the CSUN community!

Are the classes offered online or in person?


  • Math and First-Year Connections is a four-week, in-person program that meets on campus Monday through Thursday, four hours per day, with morning and afternoon hours available.
  • Math Connections is a three-week program offered in two formats — fully online or hybrid (half on campus, half online). Math Connections meets twice per week for 2½ hours per session, with morning, afternoon and evening hours available.

To get the most out of the program, we recommend that you attend in person, if circumstances allow.

What hardware and software do I need to participate?

You will need a computer, laptop or tablet. Students enrolled in Math Connections online will need a device with a working webcam and microphone, along with internet access, to participate using CSUN Zoom.

CSUN is here to support you! As a Pathways to Excellence participant, you’ll have access to CSUN’s Device Loaner Program and any software you’ll need for your classes.

Should I sign up for a STEM or non-STEM section of Early Start Math (ESM 196P)?

You will take Early Start Math (ESM 196P) no matter which Pathways to Excellence option you choose. Some class sections of ESM 196P are designed for science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) majors while others are designed for specific non-STEM majors.

Sections of ESM 196P are offered for the following majors:

  1. STEM-related majors:
    • Environmental and Occupational Health
    • Kinesiology Exercise Science
    • Radiologic Science
    • Any other STEM major
  1. All majors in the David Nazarian College of Business and Economics (non-STEM)
  2. Statistics-dependent majors such as Psychology, Sociology, etc. (non-STEM)

Which ESM 196P class do I need to take?

  • If you’ve declared one of the majors listed above, the enrollment system will direct you to the ESM 196P class section that matches your major.
  • If your non-STEM major is not listed above, you should not take Pathways to Excellence this summer. If you will take MATH 131 in your first three semesters at CSUN, don't take Pathways to Excellence this summer. You won't see any ESM 196P classes in the enrollment system, but make sure you're looking during the correct registration period.
  • If your major is Exploratory, you’ll see all available sections of ESM 196P in the enrollment system. Choose a STEM or specific non-STEM section based on your career interests.

If unsure which section of ESM 196P to take, please contact the Pathways to Excellence team at Please include your nine-digit student ID number in your email.

When do Pathways to Excellence classes begin?

Math and First-Year Connections, the comprehensive option with two courses meeting four days per week for four weeks, begins July 10 and ends Aug. 3.

Math Connections, with one math course meeting two days per week for three weeks, has two schedule options:

  • The Tuesday/Thursday session begins July 11 and ends July 27.
  • The Monday/Wednesday session begins July 17 and ends Aug. 2.

For a P2E calendar, visit Which other dates do I need to know?

Which other dates do I need to know?

Mark your calendar with these important Pathways to Excellence (P2E) dates, and check your CSUN email regularly for invitations and instructions.

Key Dates — Pathways to Excellence
Check your CSUN email account for an invitation and instructions to attend P2E.May 8, 2023
Math and First-Year Connections (four-week option) registration period.May 8 through June 9
Math and First-Year Connections (four-week option) online information session, Zoom, 5:30 to 7 p.m.May 16
Math Connections (three-week option) online information session, Zoom, 5:30 to 7 p.m.June 6
Last day to enroll in Math and First-Year Connections (four-week option).June 9
Math Connections (three-week option) registration period.June 10 through July 6
Last day to enroll in Math Connections (three-week option).July 6
Math and First-Year Connections (UNIV 100 and ESM 196P) program begins.July 10
Math Connections (ESM 196P only) Tuesday/Thursday program begins.July 11
Math Connections (ESM 196P only) Monday/Wednesday program begins.July 17
Last day of Math Connections (ESM 196P) Tuesday/Thursday program.July 27
Last day of Math Connections (ESM 196P) Monday/Wednesday program.Aug. 2
Last day of Math and First-Year Connections (UNIV 100 and ESM 196P) program.Aug. 3
P2E course grades available through the CSUN Portal.Aug. 10

How can I get help deciding which program to take?

If you’re not sure if you should sign up for Math and First-Year Connections or Math Connections, please contact the Pathways to Excellence team at, and we’ll help you figure it out.

Registration and Finances — Summer 2023

When can I register for Pathways to Excellence?

Register for Pathways to Excellence during the enrollment period for the option you choose:

  • Math and First-Year Connections (four weeks): Enroll starting Monday, May 8, through Friday, June 9, 2023.
  • Math Connections (three weeks): Enroll starting Saturday, June 10, through Thursday, July 6, 2023.

Be sure to register for your program option before the deadline above.

Check your CSUN email for an invitation to a Pathways to Excellence information session via Zoom.

How do I register for Pathways to Excellence?

If you haven’t activated your CSUN accounts yet, please do so now! Visit CSUN Account Information.

To enroll in Pathways to Excellence:

  1. Enroll during the registration period for your Pathways to Excellence program option (refer to the FAQ immediately above).
  2. Log in to the CSUN Portal with your user ID and password.
  3. On the portal home screen, under Top Tools, select Student Center.
  4. In the Student Center Academics section, select the Pathways to Excellence link.

For a step-by-step guide, visit How to Enroll in Pathways to Excellence.

Reach out to the Pathways to Excellence team at

How can I get help with my registration?

Reach out to the Pathways to Excellence team at

You can also review the guide How to Enroll in Pathways to Excellence Classes.

Is Pathways to Excellence free?

Pathways to Excellence classes are free if you apply for financial aid and have an Expected Family Contribution of $6,000 or less — this qualifies you to receive a fee waiver. Course materials are free, and if you need to borrow a laptop, you can do so through CSUN’s Device Loaner Program.

If you don’t qualify for a fee waiver, the course fee is $191 per semester unit. Math and First-Year Connections is four units; Math Connections is one unit.

A onetime, $2 campus fee is also charged (or waived). This gives you access to the Student Recreation Center, the Oasis Wellness Center, the Klotz Student Health Center, the University Library, free tutoring and other campus resources.

If you do not receive a fee waiver, course fees and the $2 campus fee ($1 each for health facilities and the University Student Union) will be due online within 24 hours of enrollment.

If you have questions about Pathways to Excellence payment or refunds, please email