Prerequisites, Corequisites and Recommended Preparation at College of San Mateo - Frequently asked Questions
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Prerequisites, Corequisites and Recommended Preparation
Frequently asked Questions

What are prerequisites, corequisites, and recommended preparation?
A prerequisite is a condition of enrollment that students are required to meet to demonstrate readiness for enrollment in a course or program. As an example, students must successfully complete elementary algebra (Math 110), prior to enrolling in intermediate algebra (Math 120). So, Math 110 is a prerequisite for Math 120. A prerequisite course must be completed successfully to enroll in the course which follows. Successful completion is defined as earning a grade of “C” or better. Placement test results can also be used to meet prerequisite skill levels.

A corequisite is a course that a student is required to take simultaneously in order to enroll in another course. Corequisites are designated in course descriptions in the class schedule and college catalog.

Recommended preparation for a course or program is a condition that a student is advised, but not required, to meet before enrollment.

Why do courses have prerequisites?

Prerequisites provide a common academic foundation for all students who enroll in the course or program. When a course has a prerequisite, the content assumes a specific skill level or knowledge base. This allows for course continuity and instruction begins at the academic or skill level addressed by the prerequisite requirement.

If a student has not completed the prerequisite or does not meet the prerequisite requirement, he/she cannot enroll in the course. All prerequisites are enforced.

What is computerized prerequisite checking?
When attempting to register for a course that has computerized prerequisite in place, after the course CRN is entered on WebSMART, the registration system searches the San Mateo County Community College District (SMCCCD) student database for one of two things:
  1. the successfully completed prerequisite course(s) completed within the SMCCCD, or
  2. SMCCCD placement test results that indicate the skill level prerequisite requirements.
If neither prerequisite identifier is in place, registration for the course is blocked and a message appears, “you have not met the course prerequisite.”

What if I am currently enrolled in the prerequisite course(s)?
If a student is currently enrolled in the prerequisite course(s), the computer will not block his/her enrollment in the next course. However, if a student receives a final grade other than A, B, C, or CR in the prerequisite course(s), when the final grades are posted, he/she will be dropped from the course. Students are advised to see a counselor for further assistance with enrollment.

What if I have an “I”, an incomplete, in the prerequisite course?
If a student has an “I”, an incomplete grade, in the prerequisite course, the course has not been completed and the prerequisite has not been met. The student is required to meet with the instructor to complete the incomplete grade. Only after the final grade has been posted on the electronic transcript is the prerequisite course requirement met.

How can I meet prerequisite requirements and be cleared for registration?

There are four ways students can meet prerequisite requirements:
  1. complete the prerequisite course(s) within the San Mateo County Community College system, with a grade of CR/P or C or higher
  2. complete placement tests in the San Mateo County Community College District
    • the math placement test must have been completed within the last two years with results that indicate the prerequisite skill level
    • the English placement test has no time limit and results must indicate the prerequisite skill level
  3. * complete the prerequisite course at another accredited college/university in the United States
  4. * meet prerequisites through the College Board Advanced Placement Exam (AP) results
* For 3 and 4, students must use the Prerequisite Equivalency Form to secure approval. Prerequisite Equivalency Forms are available on the CSM Forms website. If a student has not completed a course or test to meet prerequisite requirements but has other experience that meets the prerequisite skill level, then the prerequisite challenge process is the means to determine course eligibility. Review the Prerequisite Challenge Petition available on the Forms website for more information.

Are there registration blocks on courses with only recommended preparation?

No. There are no registration blocks on courses with recommended preparation only. However, students are strongly advised to meet the recommended preparation before enrolling into a course to better prepare to successfully complete the course.

Will the college accept high school coursework as meeting a prerequisite requirement?

No. However, students who have completed high school coursework in certain subject areas (such as foreign languages) may be able to challenge a course prerequisite based on competency achieved through high school work. Students who wish to challenge prerequisites using high school coursework may proceed with the challenge process. See the Forms section of this site for details.

Can an instructor waive a prerequisite?

No. The purpose of prerequisite enforcement is to make sure all students have the necessary background to be successful in the course. An instructor’s signature will not override the prerequisite requirement for the course. Even if an instructor issues an authorization code, the student may not enroll in the course if he/she does not meet the course prerequisite requirement.