COLLEGE ADMISSIONS GLOSSARY
A.A.: This stands for an "associate of arts" degree, which can be earned at most two-year colleges.
A.A.S.: This refers to an "associate of applied science" degree, which can be earned at some two-year colleges.
Academic advisement: At most colleges and universities, individual students are assigned to an "adviser." At a minimum, you'll meet with your adviser a few times each year to determine which courses to take to satisfy graduation requirements and to generally make sure you are meeting your academic or vocational goals. Most of the time, professors in your major field serve as your adviser, but some schools have a staff of "professional advisers."
Accelerated program: Completion of a major or some college-level program of study in fewer than the usual number of years, most often by taking summer classes and enrolling in more courses than most other students during regular academic terms.
ACT: This is a test published by American
College Testing. It measures a student's aptitude in English, mathematics, reading,
and science reasoning. Many colleges in the South and Midwest require students
to take this test and submit their test scores when they apply for admission.
Some colleges accept this test or the SAT I. (See below for explanation of SAT
I.) Most students take the ACT or the SAT during their junior or senior year
of high school.
Adult student services: Admission assistance, support, orientation, and other services designed especially for adults who have started college for the first time, or who are re-entering after a lapse of a few years.
Application fee: How much a college or university charges for processing your application for acceptance. Unfortunately, this amount is not credited toward tuition and required fees, and it is not refundable if you are not admitted to the institution.
Associate's degree: A post-high school
degree that normally requires at least two but less than four years of full-time
equivalent college work.
Bachelor's degree: The traditional degree
given by American colleges and universities. It normally requires at least four
years but not more than five years of full-time equivalent college-level work.
The "bachelor's degree" category includes bachelor's degrees completed
in less than four years and all bachelor's degrees conferred in five-year cooperative
(work-study) programs. (A cooperative plan, by the way, provides for alternate
class attendance and employment in business, industry, or government. It allows
students to combine actual work experience with their college studies.)
B.A. or B.S.: B.A. stands for "bachelor
of arts," and B.S. stands for "bachelor of science." Both degrees
can be earned at four-year colleges. Some colleges only grant B.A.s and others
only grant B.S.s -- it depends on the kinds of courses offered at the particular
Calendar system: The method by which
a college or university structures most of its courses for the academic year
(e.g., semesters, trimesters, quarters, one-course-at-a-time).
Career and placement services: A range
of services including: coordination of campus visits by employers; materials
and resources designed to help students determine which career paths to follow,
career counseling; help in resume writing, interviewing, and job hunting; permanent
and part-time job listings; and establishment of a permanent reference folder.
Carnegie units: One year of study or
the equivalent of one year of study in a secondary school subject.
Class rank: Your relative numerical
position in your graduating class. It's calculated by your school on the basis
of grade-point average (weighted or unweighted).
College preparatory program:
Courses in academic subjects (e.g., English, history and social studies, foreign
languages, math, science, and the arts) that stress preparation for eventual
study at a college or university.
Common application: The standard application
form distributed by the National Association of Secondary School Principals
for the large number of private colleges and universities that are members of
the Common Application Group.
Common application: The standard application
form distributed by the National Association of Secondary School Principals
for the large number of private colleges and universities that are members of
the Common Application Group. Continuous basis (for program enrollment): A calendar
system with no requirement that classes begin on a certain date. It's used by
schools that enroll students at many different times during the academic year
(e.g., cosmetology schools).
Cooperative housing: College-owned,
-operated, or -affiliated housing in which students share room and board expenses
and participate in household chores to reduce living expenses.
Core curriculum: A specified number
of courses or credits in any combination of humanities, social sciences, life
sciences, or physical sciences required of all students, regardless of major,
to ensure a well-rounded education.
Counseling service: Activities designed
to assist students in making plans and decisions related to their education,
career, or personal development.
Credit: Recognition of attendance or
performance in a course or program that can be applied toward the requirements
for a degree, diploma, certificate, or other formal award.
degree, diploma, certificate, or other formal award.
Credit hour: A credit hour is one hour
(or, in most cases, 50 minutes) of instruction over a 15-week period in a semester
or trimester system, or a 10-week period in a quarter system. Credit hours are
applied toward the total number of hours needed for completing the requirements
of a degree, diploma, certificate, or other formal award.
Cross-registration: A system in which
students enrolled at one institution may take courses at another institution
without having to formally apply to the second institution.
Default Rate: The default rate is the
percentage of students who took out Federal student loans to help pay their
expenses but did not repay them properly.
Deferred admission: Permitting admitted
students to postpone enrollment for a specific amount of time, usually an academic
term or one year.
Degree: An award conferred by a college,
university, or some other educational institution as official recognition for
the successful completion of an academic or vocational program.
Degree-seeking students: Students enrolled
in academic, vocational, and occupational courses for credit who are officially
seeking a degree or some other formal award.
Differs by program (calendar system):
A calendar system classification used by institutions that have occupational/vocational
programs of varying lengths. Students may enroll at specific times depending
on the program desired. For example, a school might offer a two-month program
beginning in January, March, May, September, and November; and a three-month
program beginning in January, April, and October.
Diploma: An official-looking document
conferring a degree on a person or certifying that the person has adequately
completed a prescribed course of study.
Distance learning: Earning course credit
at off-campus locations via cable television, Internet, satellite classes, videotapes,
correspondence courses, or other similar means.
Doctoral degree: The highest award you
can earn for graduate study. The doctoral degree classification includes such
degrees as Doctor of Education, Doctor of Juridical Science, Doctor of Public
Health, and the Doctor of Philosophy degree in any field (agronomy, food technology,
education, engineering, public administration, ophthalmology, radiology, you
name it). For theDoctor of Public Health degree,
the prior degree is generally earned in the closely related field of medicine
or in sanitary engineering.
Double major: Completing two undergraduate
programs of study simultaneously.
Dual enrollment: A program through which
high school students enroll in college courses while still also enrolled in
high school Dual enrollment students are not required to apply for admission
to the college in order to participate.
Early action plan: An admission scheme
that allows applicants to apply for and be notified of an admission decision
well in advance of the regular notification dates. Applicants who are admitted
under an early action plan are not committed to enroll; they may reply to the
offer under the college's regular reply policy.
Early admission: A policy under which
students who have not yet completed high school are admitted and enroll full
time in college, usually after completion of their junior year. Early
decision plan: A plan that permits applicants to apply and be notified
of an admission decision (and a financial aid offer if applicable) well in advance
of the regular notification date. In an early decision plan, applicants agree
to accept an offer of admission and, if admitted, to withdraw their applications
from other colleges. There are three possible decisions for early decision applicants:
admitted, denied, or not admitted but forwarded for impartial consideration
with the regular applicant pool.
English as a Second Language (ESL):
A course of study designed specifically for students whose native language is
Exchange student program-domestic: Any
arrangement between a student and a college or university that permits study
for a semester or more at another college in the United States without extending
the amount of time required for a degree. (See alsoStudy abroad.)
External degree program: A program of
study in which students earn credits toward a degree through independent study,
college courses, proficiency examinations, and personal experience. External
degree programs require minimal or no classroom attendance.
Extracurricular activities (as admission factor):
Special consideration in the admissions process given for participation in both
school and non-school-related activities (like clubs, hobbies, student government,
athletics, performing arts, etc.).
Expected Family Contribution (EFC):
An amount, determined by a formula that is specified by law, that indicates
how much of a family's financial resources should be available to help pay for
school. Factors such as taxable and non-taxable income, assets (such as savings
and checking accounts), and benefits (for example, unemployment or Social Security)
are all considered in this calculation. The EFC is used in determining eligibility
for Federal need-based aid.
Fees: These are charges that cover costs
not associated with the student's course load, such as costs of some athletic
activities, clubs, and special events.
Financial Aid: Financial aid in this handbook refers to money available from various sources to help students pay for college.
Financial Aid Package: The total amount
of financial aid a student receives. Federal and non-Federal aid such as grants,
loans, or work-study are combined in a "package" to help meet the
student's need. Using available resources to give each student the best possible
package of aid is one of the major responsibilities of a school's financial
Financial need: How much additional
funding you need to attend a college or university, as determined by each institution
using federal methodology or its own standards.
First professional certificate (post-degree):
A focused and professionally oriented program of study designed for persons
who have already completed a full-fledged professional degree. Examples include
refresher courses or additional units of study in a specialty or subspecialty.
First professional degree: An earned
degree in one of the following fields: Chiropractic (DC, DCM), dentistry (DDS,
DMD), medicine (MD), optometry (OD), osteopathic medicine (DO), rabbinical and
Talmudic studies (MHL, Rav), Pharmacy (B.Pharm, Pharm.D), podiatry (PodD, DP,
DPM), veterinary medicine (DVM), law (LLB, JD), divinity/ministry (BD, MDiv).
First-time, first-year (freshman) student: A student attending any institution for the first time at the undergraduate level. This category includes students enrolled in the fall term who attended college for the first time in the most recent summer term and students who entered with advanced standing (e.g., college credits earned before graduation from high school).
First-year student: A student who has
completed less than the equivalent of one full year of undergraduate work; usually
less than 30 semester hours (in a 120-hour degree program) or less than 900
Freshman: A first-year undergraduate student.
Freshman/new student orientation: A
program designed to introduce the academic, social, emotional, and intellectual
issues involved in beginning a degree program. Orientation can be a few hours
or a few days in length. At some schools, there is a fee.
Full-time student (undergraduate): A
student enrolled for 12 or more semester credits, 12 or more quarter credits,
or 24 or more contact hours a week each term.
General Educational Development (GED) Diploma:
The certificate students receive if they have passed a high school equivalency
test. Students who don't have a high school diploma but who have a GED will
still qualify for Federal student aid.
GMAT: Graduate Management Aptitude Test;
a standardized test designed by the Educational Testing Service (ETS) which
measures aptitude for entering business school. Widely used as a standard by
business schools across the USA.
GMAT (CAT): GMAT Computer Adaptive Test;
the new computerized version of the GMAT. Paper and pencil test has now been
replaced by a new test in which students give the GMAT on a computer terminal.
Grade-point average (academic high school GPA): Mathematically, it's the sum of grade points a student has earned in divided by the number of courses taken. The most common GPA system assigns numbers to grades (four points for an A, three points for a B, two points for a C, one point for a D, and no points for an E or F). Unweighted GPA's assign the same weight to each course. Weighting gives students additional points for their grades in advanced or honors courses, or for courses that met for more hours each week.
Grant: A grant is a sum of money given
to a student for the purposes of paying at least part of the cost of college.
A grant does not have to be repaid.
High school diploma or recognized equivalent:
A document certifying the successful completion of a prescribed secondary high
school school program of studies, or the attainment of satisfactory scores on
the Tests of General Educational Development (GED) or a similar state-specified
Special programs students that offer the opportunity for educational enrichment,
independent study, acceleration, or some combination of these.
Independent study: Academic work chosen
or designed by the student with the approval of the department concerned, under
an instructor's supervision, and usually completed outside of the regular classroom
The tuition charged by institutions to students who meet the residency requirements
of the state or the college or university.
Institutional and external funds:
These are university funds (endowment funds, alumni funds, etc.) that the institution
disburses. More importantly, the university determines who will receive the
funds and how much each person will receive.
International student: Someone who is
not a citizen or national of the United States. International students are in
the United States on a visa or temporary basis and don't have the right to remain
Internship: Short-term, supervised work experience usually related to a student's major field for which the student earns academic credit. The work can be full or part time, on- or off-campus, paid or unpaid
.Learning center: An on-campus center that offers academic assistance through tutors, workshops, computer programs, etc. in academic areas and skills like reading, writing, math, taking notes, managing time, and taking tests.
Liberal arts/career combination: Program
in which a student earns undergraduate degrees in two separate fields, whether
on-campus or through cross-registration One of these fields is a liberal arts
major and the other in a professional or specialized major.
Master's degree: A post-bachelor's degree
program that requires completion of a program of study of at least the full-time
equivalent of one academic year but not more than two academic years of work.
Need-based gift aid: Scholarships and
grants from institutional, state, federal or other sources for which a student
must have financial need to qualify.
Non-need-based gift aid: Scholarships
and grants, gifts, or merit-based aid from any institutional, state, federal,
or other source awarded solely on the basis of academic achievement, merit,
or any other non-need-based criteria. Non-need-based aid that is used to meet
need should be counted as need-based aid.
Open admission: An admission policy
that allows the admission of virtually all secondary school graduates or students
with GED equivalency diplomas without regard to academic record, test scores,
or other qualifications.
Out-of-state tuition: The tuition charged
by institutions to students who don't meet the state's in-state residency requirements
of the state or the college or university.
Part-time student (undergraduate): A
student enrolled for fewer than 12 credits per semester or quarter, or fewer
than 24 contact hours a week each term.
These are Federal need-based grants that were given to just under 4 million
students for school year 1994-95. In school year 1995-96, the maximum Pell Grant
This is a Federal financial aid program that consists of low-interest loans
for undergraduates and graduate students with exceptional financial need. Loans
are awarded by the school.
PLUS Loans: These Federal loans allow
parents to borrow money for their children's college education.
PSAT/NMSQT: This stands for the Preliminary
Scholastic Assessment Test/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test, a practice
test that helps students prepare for the Scholastic Assessment Test (SAT I).
The PSAT is usually administered to tenth or eleventh grade students. Although
colleges do not see a student's PSAT/NMSQT score, a student who does very well
on this test and who meets many other academic performance criteria may qualify
for the National Merit Scholarship Program.
Personal counseling: One-on-one or group
counseling with trained professionals available to students regarding personal,
educational, or vocational issues.
Post-master's certificate: A focused
program of study that requires completion of 24 credit hours beyond the master's
degree but does not meet the requirements of academic degrees at the doctoral
Post-baccalaureate certificate: A focused
program of study that requires completion of 18 credit hours beyond the bachelor's
degree. These programs are designed for persons who have completed a baccalaureate
degree but do not meet the requirements of master's degree programs.
Post-secondary award, certificate, or diploma
(at least one but less than two academic years): A focused program
of study that requires completion of at least one full-time academic year (or
its equivalent) but less than two full-time academic years.
Private institution: An educational
institution that is primarily supported by private funds (instead of public
funds) and operated by private individuals (instead of government employees)
and is not directly controlled by the state or any governmental agency.
Proprietary institution: A private educational
institution which seeks to earn profit by providing educational services.
Quarter calendar system: A calendar
system in which the academic year consists of three sessions called quarters
of about 12 weeks each. The duration of quarters ranges from 10 to 15 weeks.
There is usually an additional quarter in the summer.
Room and board (charges)-on campus:
For computation purposes, assume double occupancy in institutional housing and
19 meals per week (or whatever the maximum meal plan is).
ROTC: This stands for Reserve Officers
Training Corps program, which is a scholarship program wherein the military
covers the cost of tuition, fees, and textbooks and also provides a monthly
allowance. Scholarship recipients participate in summer training while in college
and fulfill a service commitment after college.
SAT I: This stands for the Scholastic
Assessment Test, which is a test that measures a student's mathematical and
verbal reasoning abilities. Many colleges in the East and West require students
to take the SAT I and to submit their test scores when they apply for admission.
Some colleges accept this test or the ACT. (See above for an explanation of
the ACT.) Most students take the SAT I or the ACT during their junior or senior
year of high school.
SAT II Subject Test: SAT II Subject
Tests are offered in many areas of study including English, mathematics, many
sciences, history, and foreign languages. Some colleges require students to
take one or more SAT II Tests when they apply for admission.
Savings Instrument: In this document, savings instrument refers to any kind of savings plan or mechanism you can use to save money over time. Examples of savings instruments discussed in this handbook are savings accounts, certificates of deposit (CDs), and money market accounts.
Scholarship: A scholarship is a sum
of money given to a student for the purposes of paying at least part of the
cost of college. Scholarships can be awarded to students based on students'
academic achievements or on many other factors.
Self-help aid: Need-based loans and
jobs up to the level of institutionally determined need.
Semester calendar system: A calendar
system that consists of two semesters during the academic year with about 16
weeks for each semester of instruction. There may be an additional summer session.
SEOG (Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant):
This is a Federal award that helps undergraduates with exceptional financial
need, and is awarded by the school. The SEOG does not have to be paid back.
Stafford Loans: These are student loans
offered by the Federal Government. There are two types of Stafford Loans --
one need-based and another non-need-based. Under the Stafford Loan programs,
students can borrow money to attend school and the Federal Government will guarantee
the loan in case of default. Under the Stafford Loan programs, the combined
loan limits are $2,625 for the first year, $3,500 for the second year, $5,500
for the third or more years. An undergraduate cannot borrow more than a total
Student-designed major: A program of
study based on a student's individual interests, designed with the assistance
of an adviser.
Summer session: A summer session is
shorter than a regular semester and not part of the academic year. It is not
the third term of an institution operating on a trimester system or the fourth
term under a quarter calendar system. The college or university may have two
or more sessions occurring in the summer months. Some schools, such as vocational
and beauty schools, have year-round classes with no separate summer session.
Transcript: This is a list of all the
courses a student has taken with the grades that the student earned in each
course. A college will often require a student to submit his or her high school
transcript when the student applies for admission to the college.
Transfer applicant: An individual seeking
admission who has previously attended another college or university and earned
college-level credit. Remember that an "applicant" is someone who
has fulfilled the institution's requirements to be considered for admission
(including payment or waiving of the application fee, if any).
Transfer student: A student entering
the institution for the first time who has previously attended another college
or university the same level (e.g., undergraduate). Students may transfer with
or without credit.
Trimester calendar system: An academic
year consisting of three terms of about 15 weeks each.
Tuition: What it costs to take classes
at an institution. Tuition may be charged per term, per course, or per credit.
Undergraduate: A student enrolled in
a four- or five-year bachelor's degree program, an associate's degree program,
or a vocational or technical program who has not yet attained a bachelor's degree.
Wait list: A group of students who meet
the admission requirements but will only be offered a place in the class if
space becomes available.
Weekend college: A program that allows
students to complete a course of study by attending classes only on weekends.
William D. Ford Federal Direct Loans:
Under this new program, students may obtain Federal loans directly from their
college or university with funds provided by the U.S. Department of Education
instead of a bank or other lender
Work-Study Programs: These programs are offered by many colleges. They allow students to work part time during the school year as part of their financial aid package. The jobs are usually on campus and the money earned is used to pay for tuition or other college charges.