Class Schedules and Catalog Background Image

Student Onboarding: Orientation & Advisement

Student Onboarding: Orientation & Advisement

The Student Onboarding Process

The onboarding process (application, placement, orientation, and development of an education plan) starts students on the right path by assisting them in choosing, planning, and achieving their educational goals.

The process also provides essential information for planning a successful college experience. New students must complete the placement process, orientation, and advisement to be eligible for priority registration. To maintain priority registration, students must complete an education plan within two semesters (or 15 units) and maintain good academic standing. 

Students new to college (first-time students) or new to MiraCosta College should complete the onboarding process when they apply or as soon as possible. Students who complete these steps may register earlier (this does not apply to concurrently enrolled high school students or students who have previously earned a bachelor's degree).

Although all students should complete the onboarding process (previously known as matriculation), any applicant to the college may choose not to participate in any onboarding step. However, those who choose not to complete the onboarding steps may not be eligible for priority registration. Students can challenge or appeal any step in the onboarding process by emailing

Onboarding Steps

Step 1: Application

Students complete and submit a MiraCosta College application online. MiraCosta College uses CCCApply to process all applications. Submitting an online application is a two-step process: 

  1. Create an OpenCCC account (CCC stands for California Community Colleges). 
  2. Then continue to "Start New Application" for MiraCosta College. 

After their application is processed, students are assigned a SURF ID number that they will use the entire time they attend MiraCosta College.

SURF is an online enrollment and student information system that allows students to manage their school-related activities. To access SURF, students use their SURF ID and a self-created password.

Step 2: Placement Process 

The MiraCosta College placement process provides students with the information needed to get started in the math, English, or ESL courses that best support their educational pathway.

The placement process can be completed in a variety of ways:

  • Automated placement through CCCApply

If you have graduated from a United States high school (or intend to graduate in the next year), the MiraCosta application through CCCApply will prompt you to provide your high school GPA, coursework, and grades. This information will be used to provide an automated placement for math and English. If you provided this information on the application, you will receive an email shortly after your application has been processed with your placement information. This email is also accessible through the Message Center located within your Student Center in SURF.

  • Other ways to complete placement

Students who do not provide their high school transcript information on the application can complete the placement process by

  • submitting an official or unofficial high school transcript to Testing Services;
  • completing the Multiple Measures Self-Report Update Form; or
  • completing a guided self-placement tool for math and/or English/ESL course placement.

High school transcripts or requests to complete the guided self-placement tool may be emailed to

Students who would like information about the guided self-placement process or alternatives to placement (AP scores, EAP, or prior college coursework) may visit the Testing Services webpage.  

Know Your Rights Under California Placement Legislation (AB 705 and AB 1705)

AB 705 is California legislation that aims to increase student completion rates and close achievement gaps by requiring community colleges to consider high school coursework and GPA as primary factors for student placement. It ensures that students are enrolled in transfer-level courses by default and provides tools for their success. AB 1705, signed into law in 2022, builds on AB 705 by addressing inequitable implementation and supporting strong and equitable placement and completion outcomes.

For more information on student rights under this legislation, visit the AB 705 webpage.

Step 3: Orientation

All students (new and current) should complete Spartan Start Orientation to learn about academic programs, support services, and college terminology and develop planning tools that will help them succeed at MiraCosta College. Completing orientation is an important onboarding step that can qualify students for priority registration, if they are eligible. 

Students can access Spartan Start Orientation through Orientation in their SURF account. Orientation gets students off to a great start on their college career and leads to higher student success. The orientation includes a first-semester education plan that outlines how students can select semester coursework that aligns with transfer and/or degree goals.   

Step 4: Education Plan

One of the best ways students can keep their education and career goals on track is to create an education plan with an academic counselor. An “ed plan” is like a roadmap for students that helps them achieve their academic goal. It includes a list of courses and requirements, important dates and deadlines, and relevant transfer and career information.

New students enrolling at MiraCosta College are required to complete an education plan to earn and maintain priority registration. Students are introduced to the collaborative process and value of creating an education plan in an academic counseling appointment or “New Student Course Selection” workshop.   

Students are encouraged to develop an education plan with an academic counselor as soon as possible but no later than the end of their second semester at MiraCosta to maintain their eligibility for priority registration. 

Campus Locations

MiraCosta Community Learning Center

1831 Mission Avenue
Oceanside, CA 92058
View Map

View Campus Map
MiraCosta Oceanside Campus Building

1 Barnard Drive
Oceanside, CA 92056
View Map

View Campus Map
MiraCosta San Elijo Campus

3333 Manchester Avenue
Cardiff, CA 92007
View Map

View Campus Map
MiraCosta Technology Career Institute Building

2075 Las Palmas Drive
Carlsbad, CA 92011
View Map

Visit Career Institute