Directed Self-Placement FAQs

DSP is a method of placement in college composition that offers students guidance to help them select the writing course most appropriate for them. With guidance and directions available, we want you to choose the first-year writing course(s) that will best support your development as a writer and reader and best support your work in your other courses.

Option 1

FYC STRETCH (ENGL 1006 & 1007)

FYC stretch is a two-course composition sequence which gives students a full year to develop the communication skills to meet the university’s competencies for critical reading and written communication.

Why take FYC Stretch 1006 & 1007?
  • Easier transition to college writing.
  • Relaxed pace while fulfilling requirements.
  • Cohort model with same classmates and instructor both semesters.
  • Emphasis on developing reading/writing strategies.
  • Less demanding assignments at first.
  • More time to complete assignments.
  • More opportunity to revise papers.
  • Satisfy general education requirement (A2)

Option 2


Some students prefer the intensive one-semester composition course. The expected skills and performance requirements are the same as in the stretch sequence with the exception that ENGL 1001 and 1002 do not include FYE.  As a consequence, the pace is accelerated.

ENGL 1002

Places more emphasis on the use of technology and multiple media and is often taught online.

ENGL 1003

Is four instead of three units and includes FYE curriculum.

Why take FYC 1001, 1002, or 1003?
  • Challenge yourself.
  • Work at an intensive pace.
  • Satisfy the general education requirement in one semester (A2).

Option 3

(ESL 1000, 1005 + FYC) 

Some students—even those who have graduated from US high schools—may benefit from additional preparation in reading, writing, and English-language skills to ensure readiness for academic writing in First-Year Composition.

ESL 1000

This one-semester course focuses on editing and sentence-level grammar skills and on increasing writing fluency.

ESL 1005

This one-semester course includes drafting, revising, and editing essays with additional focus on reading and vocabulary. [May be taken concurrently with ENGL 1006, 1007.]

Why take ESL 1000, 1005
  • Intensive instruction in college-level English language, reading, and writing.
  • Develop vocabulary.
  • Learn more about writing effective sentences.
  • More help with proofreading, editing, and correcting grammar.
  • Preparation for FYC Stretch
  • 1005 may be taken concurrently with FYC Stretch

ENGL 1001 is an accelerated composition option. It is a single semester course that focuses on academic writing. ENGL 1002 is essentially the same course with an additional online component—sometimes taught completely online. The specifics of the online component are up to your individual instructor, but you may learn things such as how to construct a website, learn Google Docs, have online classes, etc. ENGL 1003 is ENGL 1001 content with added FYE content. All three courses satisfy your General Education A2. requirement. ENGL 1006-1007 is the two semester option. The ENGL 1006 semester focuses on critical reading and college skills (FYE). This course satisfies area E1. of your General Education. ENGL 1007 is the second semester. This course, much like ENGL 1001, focuses on college-level writing. It satisfies area A2. of your GE as well. Finally, if you have applied for and been accepted into the honors program you will most likely take ENGL 1005: Honors English for your FYC option.

All of these courses count toward your degree, so you will not end up paying more or extending your time to degree. Instead, taking the courses best suited to your experiences and preparation will increase your chances of a timely graduation. Stretch or ESL may save you time and money later in your studies by helping you become a stronger reader and writer early on.

Yes, you will have the same teacher and the same classmates in Stretch 1006 and 1007. This is a true cohort model that better enables you to make lasting connections with other students and be part of a learning community with peers and teachers you will see in the same class for the entire year.

As part of the CSU policy on student placement, your instructional needs in MATH and ENGL will be based off of “multiple measures.” Depending on these measures, you will be placed in one of four categories for both MATH and ENGL. Category 4 indicates that you are required to take Early Start in summer and category 3 indicates you are recommended to take Early Start.

However, in addition to this, the English department at Stanislaus State uses Directed Self-Placement for all students to help you make the best decision about what course to take. For FYC, students should use the DSP as their primary method of placement. The one exception to this is that if you are category 4 in both ENGL and MATH and you select to participate in Early Start MATH only, then you are required to take ENGL 1006-1007 as your FYC option.

If you scored a 3 or better on the AP examination, you will be exempt from taking any of these courses.  Even so, you should consider taking First-Year Composition.  AP classes are often not equivalent to the First-Year Composition experience. Our focus on a rhetorical approach to analytic and persuasive writing, critical reading, and information literacy is quite different from courses grounded in literary analysis and modes of writing often taught in high school.

ESL courses are designed for students who need individual, direct, and focused instruction around the sentence-level concerns of written English as a first step to success in academic writing. Students in ESL classes may need focused help with subject-verb agreement, tenses, use of prepositions, articles (a, an, the), and use of punctuation in their writing. Even if you graduated from a U.S. High School, it is still possible that an ESL course might be the best choice.

English courses (1001, 1002, 1003, 1006, and 1007) do not assume that students’ writing will be perfect at the sentence level, but there is the expectation that there will not be an accumulation of errors that severely interferes with understanding the text.

Use your answers to the items on the DSP tutorial site to help you make this decision.

It may be possible very early in the term to make a shift; however, classes are normally full well before the first day of classes.  That’s why it is so important to provide accurate answers in response to the items on the DSP site and to consider carefully all the information you have at hand.

We use the DSP survey for enrollment management and planning, so try to make the best and most accurate choice you can when selecting a FYC option. However, the spirit of DSP is that you as a student have a better idea than we do about what course(s) will best serve your individual needs. Think of the DSP survey as a guide. If you feel like you made the wrong choice, you can select an alterative option once you register. The DSP survey does not lock you into your course selection.

At its core, FYE is about helping students make the transition to postsecondary education (college). Research beginning in the 1980s suggested that a large percentage of students were not retained into their second year of college because they did not have the skills and knowledge about how higher education works, not because they were not intelligent enough. FYE programs have since tried to address student preparation and acclimation. FYE programs take on many different forms, but in the Writing Program at Stanislaus State, FYE is largely about developing academic skills (such as how to take notes during a lecture), showing students what resources are available on campus (and how to take advantage of them), and getting students to be deliberate about planning their future academic life and life beyond college. Our FYE outcomes are listed on the Writing Program website. 

Updated: August 09, 2023