Step 2: Placement

Placement processes

Students applying to Southwestern College have access to the math, English, and English as a Second Language placement processes through the Placement card in MyPath.

Shortly after an application to the college is processed, students receive an automated email with information about their placements and links to other placement resources. When needed, this students to complete additional steps in the placement process and/or provide additional information needed for accurate placement. An email is sent to all new students who do not already hold an associate degree or higher regarding the placement process. Students who already hold an associate degree or higher need to take additional steps to receive math and English placements

Students can also access links to specific placement processes and find instructions and information about those processes on the Assessment and Prerequisites Center website at or the Placement and Prerequisites Forms page at MySWC login is required to access most placement processes and forms.

The Southwestern College Assessment and Prerequisites Center offers placement into the course sequences in mathematics, reading, English and English as a Second Language. The Assessment and Prerequisites Center is located in room 68-107 on the first floor of Cesar E. Chavez Student Services Building (68) on the Chula Vista campus. The department website and resources for students are located on the website at The Center email is The Assessment and Prerequisites Center is available through virtual chat during normal business hours at

How placements are determined

Placement determinations for mathematics and English are based on multiple measures or specific points of information about each student. These multiple measures help indicate what a student needs to support them in success in college-level coursework. The information used for placement of students who completed high school in the United States comes from information about high school courses and grades provided by the students submitted to the college through the CCCApply application or by submitting a high school transcript or other document. Students are generally informed of their placement results via email.

Students who completed high school outside of the United States, completed adult school or a high school equivalency,  or cannot be placed using high school course and grade information will have the opportunity to complete a guided placement to determine the best level for them to start in the mathematics, English, and/or English as a Second Language sequences at Southwestern College. For more information about guided placement and information about scheduling or accessing guided placement please visit the Guided Self Placement Schedule page at

English Placement

English placement is determined based on the student’s unweighted overall grade point average (GPA), the highest level high school English course completed, and the grade received in that course.

  • Students who have passed advanced high school English courses with a grade of C or better or have an unweighted overall high school GPA of 2.6 or higher are placed directly into English 115 - College Composition: Reading and Writing Critically.
  • Students who have an unweighted overall high school GPA below 2.6 will be required to take a corequisite support course, English 45 – Support for College Composition: Reading and Writing Analytically. English 45 is taken in the same term as the transfer level course and focuses on building and strengthening knowledge and skills that are necessary for success in English 115.
  • Students with an unweighted high school GPA between 2.00 and 2.59 may opt out of English 45. Visit the Assessment Center website for more details about this process. 
  • Students who want additional English language acquisition support and who qualify for English 115 (without English 45) can enroll in ESL 115A.

Students have a right to enroll in transfer level coursework in accord with these placement policies.

Mathematics Placement

Mathematics placement at Southwestern College is determined by using information about a student’s highest level of mathematics successfully completed, the grade in the student’s highest math course completed, and the student’s overall unweighted high school grade point average (GPA).

All students entering Southwestern College are placed into a transferable course in mathematics or quantitative reasoning that align with their program of study in their first semester of enrollment. 

Students who need additional support to be successful in their mathematics and quantitative reasoning courses at Southwestern College may be required to take a corequisite support course in the same semester as their first transferable mathematics course. The concurrent support course teaches students mathematical concepts and study skills to support them in being successful in their transfer level mathematics course and beyond. Concurrent support courses are available either as credit or noncredit courses.

Students are given two (2) mathematics placements at the transfer level and have the right to enroll in transfer level coursework in accord with their placement determination. However, students only need to follow one (1) of these pathways. The information available in the placement email and on the college website is designed to help students find the correct math or quantitative reasoning course for their program. Each placement level tells a student where they may start in each of the two mathematics pathways available at Southwestern College.

  • The Business, Science, Technology, Engineering or Mathematics (BSTEM) pathway includes courses in mathematics to prepare students for majors in which knowing advanced algebra and calculus are required.
  • The Statistics and Liberal Arts Mathematics (SLAM) pathway is intended to meet the needs of students with a major or field of study that requires other kinds of quantitative reasoning skills.

It is always best to attend available placement and orientation workshops and/ or speak with a counselor to understand which mathematics courses are best suited to a student’s particular academic and professional goals.

All students have a right to enroll in transferable courses in mathematics and quantitative reasoning in accord with these placement policies.

English as a Second Language Placement

All students at Southwestern College have a right to take credit courses in English as a Second Language (ESL).

The level of classes where a student begins studying in the credit ESL program is determined in a guided self-placement process. In this process, the student answers questions about their education history, how long they have studied English, how they use English, and their comfort in using English. The student also looks at samples of the work that they are expected to do at each level and reads descriptions of what they will learn in the class. At the end, the student decides what level is the best one for them to start studying ESL at Southwestern College.

For more information about the ESL Guided Self Placement Process, please contact the Assessment Center or visit the Guided Self Placement Schedule page at

External Assessments

Southwestern College does not accept assessment or placement results from other colleges and universities for placement purposes. All incoming students will be placed based on the multiple measures placement processes as described above. If you have questions about this policy, please contact the Assessment and Prerequisites Center.

Southwestern College accepts Advanced Placement and certain other exam scores for placement into higher level math and English courses in accord with the policies laid out in the External Exams Credit section in this catalog. To use these scores for placement purposes, please contact the Assessment and Prerequisites Center or visit http:/ for information about how to submit these exam scores for evaluation.