Communication Across the Disciplines

First-Year Success in Writing--Directed Self-Placement

10 students in commencement regalia, grouped in a semi-circle with Monte


The writing and math courses you take as first-year college students are the foundation of your success in college. Every class you take will require critical reading skills, writing skills, and the ability to reason with quantitative information. For that reason, it is important that you take the right first-year classes.

The decision about your first-year math and writing course should be made through careful reflection on your own experiences, not just your previous grades, so at CSUMB, we ask you to choose for yourself which first-year reading/writing and first-year quantitative reasoning course you take (that’s the self-placement part). But it’s also important you don’t make a quick or uninformed decision. So we’ve created online experiences to help (that’s the directed part).

Write to Register

It may help you make your decision to recognize that courses in different departments have different focuses.

  • CAD 101A/B or 102/90 emphasize reading and writing in a variety of situations including studying reading and writing in your future major;
  • ENSTU 120 emphasizes reading and writing about environmental topics;
  • SBS 110 emphasizes reading and writing about social science topics;
  • HCOM 120 sections vary in their focus;
  • HCOM 125 focuses on culture and students’ cultural resources. 

In Write to Register you’ll Engage in activities to give you a sense of the kind of work you’ll do in first-year composition courses. You will

  • read an article,
  • summarize the article,
  • compare your summary to one written by a college professor.

Then you'll answer some survey questions about

  • your experience doing those activities,
  • your thoughts about the kind of reading and writing support you need, and
  • your past history of reading and writing in and out of school.


Your responses to the survey questions will lead to a recommendation about whether you are likely to feel appropriately challenged and supported in a one- or two-semester first-year composition (A2) class. You will then decide whether you want to take one semester or two to build the critical reading and writing skills you will need for more advanced college work.


The two-semester first-year reading/writing course is CAD 101A/B (101A the first semester, 101B the second). This pair of courses is treated as a single, year-long course in which you remain with the same instructor and same group of students for both semesters. It is designed for students who want or need longer to work on their critical reading and writing skills to prepare for upper-division work.

Summer 2022

Fall 2022

Spring 2023

CAD 101A

CAD 101B




CAD 101A

CAD 101B

If you choose a one-semester first-year reading/writing course, you may choose to take a course with support or without an additional support class. 

Classes without a support class (Fall 2022 or Spring 2023)

Classes with a support class (Fall 2022 or Spring 2023)

  • HCOM 120,
  • CAD 102/90,
  • HCOM 125
  • HCOM 125 with HCOM 25
  • SBS 110
  • ENSTU 120

This experience should take about 1 hour.

Orientation Tables Outside of University Center


Wondering about first-year Mathematics or Statistics?

You can find information at


Contact Nelson Graff,