Glossary of College Terms
Accreditation - This amounts to a stamp of approval by an educational or professional organization stating that the college meets the regulations determined by this group. Each section of the country has its own accrediting organization: Southern, Middle Atlantic, New England, Midwestern, Northeastern, and Western.
Advisor - A member of the teaching faculty who advises students on course selections and curriculum concerns.
Application fee - A nonrefundable fee usually charged for applying to a particular college.
Associate of Arts Degree - Usually implies a two-year specified program of study at a two-year or four-year institution.
Audit - Attend a course without getting credit for it.
Bachelor's Degree - A college diploma which indicates the amount and field of study. Four years of college study usually leads to a Bachelor's Degree.
Bachelor of Arts - Usually signifies concentration of studies in science and the humanities - including foreign language, literature, social studies, etc. - a four-year program.
Bachelor of Science - Usually signifies concentration in mathematics and science without foreign language - a four-year program.
Candidates Reply Date Agreement (CRDA) - Sponsored by the College Board, this agreement established a common date, May 1, that is the earliest time a subscribing college may require an accepted applicant to say whether he or she plans to attend.
Carnegie Units - One Carnegie unit is given for successful completion of one year's study of one college preparatory or academic subject in a high school. Some colleges refer to these as "academic units." The name comes from the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.
Church-related College - A private college that is financially supported and whose policies are influenced to a degree by a church.
Class Rank - A student's standing based on his or her academic record as compared with that of the other members of the class. In a class of 100, the highest ranking student would be No. 1; the lowest, No. 100.
College Calendar - The way the academic year is divided (for instance, semester, trimester, quarter, term); dates of the start of terms; or the list of holidays, vacations, examinations, etc.
Community/Junior College - A college offering a two-year program rather than a four-year program. A junior college usually offers vocational programs as well as the first two years of a four-year college program. The student in the vocational program usually goes directly into a vocation after graduation, while the student in the academic program transfers to a four-year college.
Core Curriculum - A group of courses, in varied areas of the arts and sciences, designated by a college as one of the requirements for a degree.
Consortium - When there are several colleges and universities within close geographical proximity, they often join together in a consortium. The advantages of attending a college which is a member of a consortium are that a students has the resources of many libraries instead of just one, that he or she has the opportunity to take courses at a member institution which could not be available at his or her own college and that he or she can take advantage of many of the combined cultural and educational opportunities offered when the members of the consortium unite and present panel discussions, special lectures, and unusual courses.
Course Load - The number of hours the student is permitted to schedule in a given semester or quarter. This is usually 16-18 hours on a semester system, and 15-16 quarter hours on a quarter system.
Credit - Colleges assign a given number of credits to a particular college course based on a standard of one credit for every hour per week that the course is held. For example, a course that meets for three hours each week is generally awarded three credits. Colleges with semester calendars require fewer credits for a degree (generally 120 to 130 for an undergraduate degree) than do colleges with quarter calendars (generally about 180 credits). There are many exceptions to the credit standard, particularly with courses requiring laboratory work or other extensive work outside the classroom.
Department - A division of a college which offers instruction in a specific branch of study; for example, the psychology department.
Doctorate - Highest academic degree awarded by a college or university for advanced graduate study.
Early Action - Students apply early. Colleges let students know by January or February if they've been admitted. If students get in under early action, they can still apply to other schools and wait until spring (May 1) to decide where to go. This can be an advantage if they need financial aid because they have time to weigh offers from several different schools.
Early Decision - Students must apply early, generally by November. Colleges inform students by the end of December if they have been admitted. If students get in under early decision, they agree to withdraw any other college applications and attend that school.
Elective - A course which you select to fulfill credit hours required for graduation.
Financially independent student - As of 1988, students generally need to be either 24 years old, a veteran, or have a legal dependents (not including spouse) before they may be considered financially independent and therefore able to file for what is often a greater amount of financial aid.
Graduate Student - A student who has earned a Bachelor's Degree and is continuing college to earn a "graduate degree" (Masters Degree, Doctorate)
Honors Program - A plan designed to encourage superior students to engage in a more challenging program in their area of concentration than is required. Students who succeed in meeting the stringent requirements of an honors program are usually granted "honor" degrees.
Humanities - The humanities are usually classified as art, the classics, dramatic art, English, general and comparative literature, journalism, music , philosophy, religion and language. Many colleges divide their offerings into three divisions: humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences.
Liberal Arts - A broad course of instruction comprising the arts, natural sciences, social sciences, languages, literature, philosophy, religion, and the classics. The Latin origin of the term, artes liberates, literally means "the arts that free" (the mind and spirit).
Major - Subject in which a student takes the greatest concentration of courses.
Masters Degree - Degree conferred for completion of a specified program of study after the bachelor's degree (post-graduate), usually involving one or two years of additional study.
Matriculation - The process whereby a student is accepted, pays his fees, and enrolls in his first classes--officially becoming a student at the college. This term is only applied to freshmen or to a transfer student's first enrollment.
Mean-median - Colleges generally use the median when figuring average SAT or ACT scores. The median is determined by listing all scores and selecting the one that falls in the middle of the listing. The mean (average) is determined by adding all the scores together and dividing that total by the number of scores. The mean is less accurate because one or two very low scores can bring the average way down.
Minor - Subject in which a student takes the second greatest concentration of courses.
Placement test - A battery of tests designed to assess a student's aptitude and level of achievement in various academic areas so that he can select courses most appropriate for him.
Practicum - College experience through study and practical work; for example, student-teaching practicum.
Prerequisite - A requirement which must be met before a certain course can be taken.
Private college/university - An educational institution of higher education which is not supported by public taxes. May be independent or church related.
Quarter system - Division of the academic year into fall, winter, spring and summer quarters; each quarter is ten to eleven weeks in duration.
Registration - A process at the beginning of each semester or quarter whereby the student selects courses he will take, pays fees, & sets up a class schedule for the semester or quarter.
Remedial courses - A non-credit course taken to help the student with a weak background in a particular area; taken to prepare the student for a credit course in that area.
ROTC - Many colleges have units of the Reserve Officer's Training Corps which offer two and four-year programs of military training culminating in an officer's commission. In some colleges, credits for these courses can be applied toward fulfillment of degree requirements. (Army, Air Force, Navy)
Seminar - Course in which a small group of students, headed by a professor, engage in research and discussion.
Rush Week - A period set aside with the approval of the college for fraternities and sororities to issue invitations to prospective members ("delayed rush" usually indicates this week is held during second semester).
Student Counseling Service - Professionally trained counselors available to assist students in solving personal, social and academic problems.
Terminal Program - A program of study in which the student completes his studies in a pre-selected period of time. This type of program isusally directed toward vocational preparation. The amount of time taken to complete the program will vary, but is usually not longer than two years.
Transcript - The official record of a student's academic performance from the time of his entrance in a given institution to the end of the latest semester.
Trimester - Division of the academic year into three terms, each term being 15 to 18 weeks in duration. Typically, students attend two of the three terms.
Tuition - The charge for instruction. Generally designated for a year or a semester for a full-time student' for part-time students, it is often designated by the credit hour of a course. (Tuition does not include board and room).
Undergraduate - Refers to a student who is working toward a bachelor's or undergraduate degree.
University - An institution organized to provide education beyond high school which serves to unite several separate colleges into one large administrative unit. For example, the University of Illinois combines several colleges, such as the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, the College of Engineering, the College of Commerce and Business Administration etc., into one university system.