[Must read] -- Glossary of Terms

Definitions of commonly used terms vary from college to college. Consult specific college catalogs or their Web sites for more detailed information.

Academic Dishonesty. Academic dishonesty consists of Plagiarism, Cheating,Double Submission of Papers,Aiding and Abetting Dishonesty,Fabrication,Falsification of Records and Official Documents, and Unauthorized or malicious interference/tampering with computer property.

Accelerated study. A college program of study completed in less time than is usually required, most often by attending classes in summer or by taking extra courses during the regular academic terms. Completion of a bachelor's degree program in three years is an example of acceleration.

Accreditation. Recognition by an accrediting organization or agency that a college meets certain acceptable standards in its education programs, services, and facilities. Regional accreditation applies to a college as a whole and not to any particular programs or courses of study. Specialized accreditation of specific types of schools, such as Bible colleges or trade and technical schools, may also be determined by a national organization. See page 29 for the names and addresses of the national and regional accrediting associations. Institutional accreditation by regional accrediting associations and by national accrediting organizations is included in the Handbook's descriptions of colleges. Information about the accreditation of specialized programs within a college by organizations, such as American Chemical Society, American Dietetic Association, etc., is given in Accredited Institutions of Postsecondary Education published for the Commission on Recognition of Postsecondary Accreditation by the American Council on Education.

Add/Drop. A student may add a course or courses during the first two weeks of the semester. A student may also drop a class after registering for it. Adding and Dropping classes must be done by the deadline dates printed in the current course schedule. Students can withdraw from a course after the designated drop deadline, but will not receive a fee refund. Students wishing to add, drop or withdraw from courses can obtain the appropriate paperwork from the Admissions Office.

Advanced placement. Admission or assignment of a freshman to an advanced course in a certain subject on the basis of evidence that the student has already completed the equivalent of the college's freshman course in that subject.

Advanced Placement Program® (AP®). A program of the College Board that provides high schools with course descriptions of college subjects and Advanced Placement Examinations in those subjects. The AP Program offers 35 exams in 19 subject areas. High schools offer the courses and administer the examinations to interested students, who are then eligible for advanced placement, college credit, or both, on the basis of satisfactory grades. Most colleges and universities in the U.S. accept qualifying AP exam grades for credit, advanced standing, or both.

Alumnus, Alumna (pl., Alumni, Alumnae). A graduate or graduates of a particular college or university.

ACT. formerly known as the American College Testing Program, given at test centers in the United States and other countries on specified dates throughout the year. It includes tests in English, mathematics, reading, and science reasoning. The ACT composite score referred to in some colleges' descriptions is the average of students' scores on these four tests.

Articulation agreement. A formal agreement between two higher educational institutions, stating specific policies relating to transfer and recognition of academic achievement in order to facilitate the successful transfer of students without duplication of course work.

Associate degree. A degree granted by a college or university after the satisfactory completion of the equivalent of a two-year, full-time program of study. In general, the associate of arts (A.A.) or associate of science (A.S.) degree is granted after completing a program of study similar to the first two years of a four-year college curriculum. The associate in applied science (A.A.S.) is awarded by many colleges on completion of technological or vocational programs of study.

Bachelor's, or baccalaureate, degree. A degree received after the satisfactory completion of a four- or five-year, full-time program of study (or its part-time equivalent) at a college or university. The bachelor of arts (B.A.) and bachelor of science (B.S.) are the most common baccalaureates. There is no absolute difference between the degrees, and policies concerning their award vary from college to college.

Calendar. The system by which an institution divides its year into shorter periods for instruction and awarding credit. Common systems of instruction time:

Traditional semester—two approximately equal semesters
Early semester—two semesters, the first ending before Christmas
Quarter—three equal terms of about 12 weeks each
Trimester—calendar year divided into three equal semesters, the third semester replacing summer school
4-1-4— two equal terms of about 16 weeks each, with a 4-week interim term

Candidates Reply Date Agreement (CRDA). A college subscribing to this College Board-sponsored agreement will not require any applicants offered admission as freshmen to notify the college of their decision to attend (or to accept an offer of financial aid) before May 1 of the year the applicants apply. The purpose of the agreement is to give applicants time to hear from all the colleges to which they have applied before having to make a commitment to any of them.

Cheating. A form of academic dishonesty. Using unauthorized notes, or study aids, or information from another student or student's paper on an examination; altering a graded work after it has been returned, then submitting the work for re-grading; and allowing another person to use one's work and to submit the work under one's own name.

Class.
(1) A specific group of students meeting for specific instructional purposes; it can mean the whole series of scheduled meetings ("Dr. Owen is teaching two English Composition classes this quarter") or just one session ("we had a guest speaker in my Home Economics class today").
(2) Often means the same as course ("she's taking classes in Interior Design").
(3) A group of students who start at a school together and expect to complete their studies at the same time ("he's in the graduating class of 2003").

College. Though the term "college" is commonly used to describe many types of post-secondary education, it is also used to describe a particular kind or subset of educational institution. "College" can be used to distinguish solely undergraduate institutions from those which also maintain graduate programs. Within a given school, its "colleges" may be its areas of study, like the "College of Arts and Sciences" or the "College of Architecture."

College Board. A nonprofit organization governed by college and secondary school members offering services such as standardized admission and financial aid procedures, guidelines for admission policies, and numerous publications for members and the public regarding colleges and universities.

CB code. A College Board code number that students use to designate colleges or scholarship programs to receive their SAT score reports.

College-Level Examination Program® (CLEP®). A series of examinations in undergraduate college courses that provides students of any age the opportunity to demonstrate college-level achievement, thereby reducing costs and time to degree completion. The examinations, which are sponsored by the College Board, are administered at colleges and at some high schools year-round. All CLEP exams are delivered on computer, providing test-takers instant score results.

College Night/Fair. Event where parents and students can meet with college representatives in their local area.

College-preparatory subjects. A term used to describe subjects required for admission to, or recommended as preparation for, college. It is usually understood to mean subjects from the fields of English, history and social studies, foreign languages, mathematics, science, and the arts.

College Scholarship Service® (CSS®). A unit of the College Board's College and University Enrollment Services (CUES) that assists postsecondary institutions, state scholarship programs, and private scholarship organizations in the equitable and efficient distribution of student financial aid funds.

Combined bachelor's/graduate degree. A program in which students complete a bachelor's degree and a master's degree or first-professional degree in less than the usual amount of time. In most programs, students apply to the graduate program during their first three years of undergraduate study, and begin the graduate program in their fourth year of college. Successful completion results in awarding of both bachelor's and graduate degrees. At some colleges, this option is called a joint degree program.

Common application. The standard application form distributed by the National Association of Secondary School Principals to private colleges who are subscribers to the Common Application Group. Many nonsubscribing colleges also accept the common application. It is easily available through high school counseling offices and online at: http://www.commonapp.org.

Community College. Also known as "junior" or "two-year" college. These schools provide college courses for recent high school graduates and adults in their communities. Community colleges generally have fewer admissions requirements than four-year instiutions and courses typically cost less than comparable courses at four-year schools. Most community colleges award two-year associates degrees, though some are now awarding bachelors. Many students use community college as a springboard to a four-year college or university.

Cooperative education. A program that provides for alternative class attendance and employment in business, industry, or government. Students are typically paid for their work. Under a cooperative plan, five years are normally required to complete a bachelor's degree, but graduates have the advantage of about a year's practical work experience in addition to their studies.

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 specific group of a variety of courses required of all undergraduate students in many liberal arts college. The core curriculum exposes students to a wide range of academic disciplines in order to produce a well-rounded student and graduate.

Counselor. A member of the faculty who has special training in guidance and who assists students in academic or personal matters.

Credit hour. A unit of measure representing an hour (50 minutes) of instruction over a 15-week period in a semester or trimester system, or a 10-week period in a quarter system. It is applied toward the total number of hours needed for completing the requirements of a degree, diploma, certificate, or other formal award.

Credit/placement by examination. Academic credit or placement out of introductory courses granted by a college to entering students who have demonstrated proficiency in college-level studies through examinations such as those sponsored by the College Board's AP and CLEP programs.

Cross-registration. The practice, through agreements between colleges, of permitting students enrolled at one college or university to enroll in courses at another institution without formally applying for admission to the second institution.

CSS/Financial Aid PROFILE®. A form and service offered by the College Board and used by some colleges, universities, and private scholarship programs to award their own private financial aid funds. Students pay a fee to register for PROFILE and send reports to institutions and programs that use it. Students register with CSS by calling a toll-free telephone service or online. CSS provides a customized application for each registrant, based on the individual's information and the requirements of the colleges and programs from which she or he is seeking aid. Students complete and submit the customized application and supplements, if required, to CSS for processing and reporting to institutions. CSS/Financial Aid PROFILE is not a federal form and may not be used to apply for federal student aid.

Curriculum .
(1) An established sequence of information to be learned, skills to be acquired, etc. in a specific course or in a complete instructional program.
(2) Collectively, all the courses offered by a department, division, or college.

Dean .An academic administrator or official at a school, college, or university, especially one with responsibility for students or faculty.

Deferred admission. The practice of permitting students to postpone enrollment, usually for one year, after acceptance to the college.

Demonstrated Need. Cost of attending a college or university, minus the family’s estimated contribution (as determined either by federal of institutional methodology).

Deposit. An amount of money that a student must submit to a college or university to reserve their spot in the class at the school of their choosing. Submitting a deposit indicates that a student will enroll at that college.

Distance learning. An option for earning course credit off-campus via cable television, Internet, satellite classes, videotapes, correspondence courses, or other means.

Distribution requirements. Course requirements included in an instructional program to make sure that the student is well-rounded and gains some perspective outside his or her specific focus.

Diversity. Often refers to the percentage of minority or international students within the student body of a college or university. May refer to a variety of things from geographic distribution, to socioeconomic backgrounds, to political leanings or to religious affiliations of the student body.

Double major. Any program in which a student completes the requirements of two majors concurrently.

Dual enrollment. The practice of students enrolling in college courses while still in high school.

Early action. Students who apply under a college's early action plan receive a decision earlier than the standard response date but are not required to accept the admission offer or to make a deposit prior to May 1. See the Early Decision/Early Action table for a list of colleges that offer early action plans, including application deadlines and notification dates.

Early admission. The policy of some colleges of admitting certain students who have not completed high school--usually students of exceptional ability who have completed their junior year. These students are enrolled full-time in college.

Early decision. Students who apply under early decision commit to enroll at the college if admitted and offered a satisfactory financial aid package. Application deadlines are usually in November or December with a mid-to-late December notification date. Some colleges have two rounds of early decision. See the Early Decision/Early Action table for details.

Early Decision Plan (EDPA). Colleges that subscribe to this College Board-sponsored plan agree to follow a common schedule for early decision applicants. A student applying under EDPA must withdraw applications from all other colleges as soon as he or she is notified of acceptance by the first-choice college. Applications (including financial aid applications) must be received by a specified date no later than November 15, and the college agrees to notify the applicant by a specified date no later than December 15. Colleges that subscribe to EDPA are indicated in the Early Decision/Early Action table.

Electronic application. An alternative to traditional paper applications, electronic apps can take several forms. Some schools allow you to print application forms from their website or a CD-ROM which you can fill in by hand and send to the admissions office. Other schools support online applications which you can fill out and submit over the Web. If you decide to apply electronically, you won't have to wait to receive materials in the mail and you may even save some postage. Best of all, applying electronically will get your application in the hands of admissions officers that much sooner.

Eligible Non-U.S. Citizen. The student is a citizen of a country other than the United States but has been approved for residence in the U.S. and can provide proof that he/she carries an eligible form of non-citizen identification.

English Language ProficiencyTM (ELPTTM). An SAT II: Subject Test designed for students with English as a second language or limited English proficiency, who have had at least two years of English-language study in a U.S. high school. The test measures both reading and listening skills.

ESL (English as a Second Language). Usually refers to developmental-level instruction in English language skills for non-native speakers.

ETS. The Educational Testing Service, an American organization which administers a number of tests required for various levels of university application in the US. HIS is a testing center, and is often used on weekends for testing. See school calendar for dates.

Exchange student program. Any arrangement that permits a student to study for a semester or more at another college in the United States without extending the amount of time required for a degree.

External degree program. A system of study whereby a student earns credit toward a degree through independent study, college courses, proficiency examinations, and personal experience. External degree colleges generally have no campus or classroom facilities.

FAFSA. See Free Application for Federal Student Aid.

FAFSA on the Web. An electronic option for students completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid.

Federal Parent Loan for Undergraduate Students (PLUS). The federal PLUS loan program permits parents of undergraduate students to borrow up to the full cost of education less any other financial aid the student may have received. The interest rate is variable.

Federal Pell Grant Program. A federally sponsored and administered program that provides grants based on need to undergraduate students. Congress annually sets the dollar range.

Federal Perkins Loan Program. A federally funded program based on need, administered by colleges, that provides low-interest (5 percent) loans of up to $3,000 per year during undergraduate study and up to $15,000 for the total undergraduate program. The combined cumulative total of loan funds available to an individual for undergraduate and graduate education is $30,000. Repayment need not begin until completion of the student's education or after limited periods of service in the military, Peace Corps, or approved comparable organizations.

Federal Stafford Loan. This is a federal program based on need that allows students to borrow money for educational expenses directly from banks and other lending institutions (sometimes from the colleges themselves). The amount that may be borrowed depends on the student's year in school. The undergraduate loan limits for 2001-2002 are as follows: first year, $2,625; second year, $3,500; third and fourth years, $5,500; to a total amount as an undergraduate of $23,000. Independent undergraduates may borrow greater amounts. Graduate students may borrow $8,500 per year to an aggregate limit, including undergraduate borrowing, of $65,000. Loan limits are the same for borrowers of unsubsidized Federal Stafford Loans, or for borrowers of a combination subsidized/unsubsidized loan. Interest rates are variable.

Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant Program (FSEOG). A federal program administered by colleges that provides grants of up to $4,000 a year for undergraduate students on the basis of exceptional financial need.

Federal Work-Study Program. An arrangement by which a student combines employment and college study. The employment may be an integral part of the academic program (as in cooperative education or internships) or simply a means of paying for college.

Fee Waiver. permits eligible students to submit college applications or test registration forms without the fee. A limited number are available through guidance counselors and educational agencies for students who qualify.

Fellowship. Fellowships and scholarships are available to students in most disciplines, and they are sponsored by colleges and a broad range of organizations and institutions. Fellowships offered by organizations are often allocated in monthly stipends and can usually be used at any university. Fellowships are more common at the graduate level, but some undergraduate scholarships do exist. Additionally, there may be grant and fellowship money available for specific research projects or study abroad. Contact your major department, financial aid office, or career center for more information.
Financial aid package/award. a combination of grants/scholarships, loans and work-study that the college is able to offer you to meet your financial need.

Freshman. A student in the first year of a typical four-year baccalaureate degree program (or one who has earned fewer than 45 quarter credits or 30 semester credits so far).

First-professional degree. A degree granted upon completion of academic requirements to become licensed in a recognized profession. The programs of study require at least two years of previous college work for entrance, and at least six years of college work for completion.

4-1-4. A variation of the semester calendar system, the 4-1-4 calendar consists of two terms of about 16 weeks each, separated by a one-month intersession used for intensive short courses, independent study, off-campus work, or other types of instruction.

Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). A form completed by all applicants for federal student aid. In many states, completion of the FAFSA is also sufficient to establish eligibility for state-sponsored aid programs. There is no charge to students for completing the FAFSA. Forms are widely available in high schools and colleges, and may be filed any time after January 1 of the year for which one is seeking aid (e.g., after January 1, 2002, for academic year 2002-2003 assistance).

Gapping. Gapping occurs when an admitted student is awarded a financial aid package that meets less than his/her full demonstrated need.

General Educational Development (GED). A series of five tests that individuals who did not complete high school may take through their state education system to qualify for a high school equivalency certificate. The tests cover correctness and effectiveness of expression, interpretation of reading materials in the natural sciences and the social sciences, interpretation of literary materials, and general mathematics ability. Many colleges accept satisfactory GED test results in lieu of high school graduation. Some colleges require home-schooled students to take the GED.

Grade-point average or ratio (GPA). A system used by many schools for evaluating the overall scholastic performance of students. Grade points are determined by first multiplying the number of hours given for a course by the numerical value of the grade and then dividing the sum of all grade points by the total number of hours carried. The most common system of numerical values for grades is A = 4, B = 3, C = 2, D = 1, and E or F = 0. Also called quality-point average ratio.

Graduate Student. A student who has completed a baccalaureate degree and is pursuing a graduate degree (e.g., M.A., M.S., Ph.D.) or a professional degree (e.g., M.B.A., L.L.B, M.S.W.).

Grant. Financial assistance that does not have to be repaid awarded to a student usually based on some evaluation of the student's family's ability to contribute toward the student's educational expenses.

Greek system. The common governing body for fraternities and sororities. These organizations vary in their role, size, mission, and traditions from college to college. First and foremost, they act as a social outlet from the rigors of intensive study. These organizations have espoused high ideals of friendship and service since the founding of Phi Beta Kappa in 1776.

Honors program. Any special program for very able students that offers the opportunity for educational enrichment, independent study, acceleration, or some combination of these.

Independent student. For financial aid purposes, a student who is not dependent on financial support from his or her parents. Also called self-supporting student.

Independent study. Academic work chosen or designed by the student with the approval of the department concerned, under an instructor's supervision. This work is usually undertaken outside of the regular classroom structure.

International Baccalaureate (IB). A comprehensive and rigorous two-year curriculum (usually taken in the final two years of high school) that is similar to the final year of secondary school in Europe. Some colleges award credit or advanced placement to students who have completed an IB program.

Internships. Short-term, supervised work experiences, 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. Student teaching and apprenticeships are examples.

Ivy League. The athletic conference that boasts academic powerhouses Brown, Columbia, Cornell, Dartmouth, Harvard, Penn, Princeton, and Yale. Acceptance to an Ivy League school is considered the brass ring of the application process, although many argue that an equal–if not better–education can be achieved at many other non-Ivy League schools.

Latin Honors. Bachelor's degrees with honors are awarded to students whose academic records give evidence of particular merit. The student's grade point average determines the level of honors as follows:

cum laude (With Honor): 3.4 - 3.59

magna cum laude (With Much Honor): 3.6 - 3.79

summa cum laude (With Most Honor): 3.8 - 4.0

Liberal arts. The study of the humanities (literature, the arts, and philosophy), history, foreign languages, social sciences, mathematics, and natural sciences. Study of the liberal arts and humanities prepares students to develop general knowledge and reasoning ability rather than specific skills. A program of academic study which provides a broad, general education. Its emphasis is on fostering critical thinking, communication skills, and an appreciation of diverse areas of study and reasoning.

Liberal arts/career combination. A program of study in which a student typically completes three years of study in a liberal arts field followed by two years of professional/technical study (for example, engineering) at the end of which the student is awarded bachelor of arts and bachelor of science degrees. The combination is also referred to as a 3-2 program.

Lifetime Learning Tax Credit. A federal income tax credit of as much as $1,000 per household annually; available to eligible taxpayers based on "out-of-pocket" tuition and fee expenditures, according to income eligibility guidelines.

Loan. A form of financial assistance that requires repayment, generally after the student graduates or ceases to be enrolled at least half-time (six hours or more).

Major. The student's academic field of specialization. In general, most courses in the major are taken at the degree-granting institution during the junior and senior year.

Merit-based aid. In general terms, merit-based aid is any form of financial aid not based on demonstrated financial need. Merit-based aid, which can take the form of grants, scholarships, or loans on favorable terms, is generally granted by each school and/or its alumni associations and wealthy benefactors. You may qualify for it by meeting a certain academic requirment, such as grade point average, test scores, or career goal. Alternatively, you may qualify through an essay competition or the like. Your financial aid package may include both need- and merit-based aid.

Minor. An area of academic study in which a student chooses to focus but does not specialize in to the degree of a major.

National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA). an athletic governing body to which approximately 800 colleges and universities belong. Each school chooses a general division 1, 2, or 3 and is required to follow the policies regarding recruitment and scholarship awards that have been established for that division.

Need-based financial aid. Financial aid (scholarships, grants, loans or work-study opportunities) given to students who have demonstrated financial need, calculated by subtracting the student's expected family contribution from a college's total costs. The expected family contribution is derived from a need analysis of the family's overall financial circumstances, using either a federal methodology to determine a student's eligibility for federal student aid, or an institutional methodology to determine eligibility for nonfederal financial aid.

Need-Blind Admission. Policy that does not take into account a student's ability to pay when he or she is under consideration for admission.

Non-credit. Courses or instructional programs which do not require extensive homework or examinations and which do not offer college credit. Students frequently take non-credit courses for basic skills improvement, job training or career enhancement, or personal enrichment.

Online application. Online applications are a specific type of electronic application. When you use an online app, you'll submit your personal and academic information to the school over a secure Internet site – no envelopes to address, no stamps to attach. You will, however, probably be required to supplement your online app with hard copies of your transcript, letters or recommendation, etc.

Open admission. The college admission policy of admitting high school graduates and other adults generally without regard to conventional academic qualifications, such as high school subjects, high school grades, and admission test scores. Virtually all applicants with high school diplomas or their equivalent are accepted.

Orientation. Most schools offer orientation for incoming students to help ease the tradition from high school to college. During orientation (which can last a couple of days to over a week) students have the opportunity to participate in a variety of programs and information sessions that allow them to experience a small taste of what their undergraduate years will be like.

Plagiarism. Using the words of another person without documentation, and thereby claiming them as one’s own. In college courses, plagiarism involves but is not limited to the action of a student submitting as his or her own work a paper entirely or in part written by someone else; submitting a paper in which he or she has included without acknowledgment material by others whether copyrighted or not, printed or recorded; or submitting a paper in which he or she has included without acknowledgment the idea or line of thought developed by others even though the exact words are not used.

Plus loan. See Federal Parent Loan for Undergraduate Students.

President. The chief executive officer of a university.

Professional School. A school or program at the graduate level that trains students intensively for a particular profession (e.g., law school, medical school, business school).

PROFILE Online. An electronic application option available for students required to complete the CSS/Financial Aid PROFILE. Students can choose to register for a paper PROFILE application or complete the entire application online.

Proprietary college. A private institution operated by its owners as a profit-making enterprise.

Provost. The chief academic officer of a university

PSAT/NMSQT® (Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test). A shorter version of the SAT I with an additional writing skills section as well as a diagnostic component providing skills feedback. Administered by high schools to sophomores and juniors each year in October, the PSAT/NMSQT aids high schools in the early guidance of students planning for college and serves as the qualifying test for scholarships awarded by the National Merit Scholarship Corporation.

Quarter. An academic calendar period of about 12 weeks. Four quarters make up an academic year, but at colleges using the quarter system, students make normal academic progress by attending three quarters each year. In some colleges, students can accelerate their programs by attending all four quarters in one or more years.

Reach School. A college where an applicant may not necessarily meet admission standards, hence making it a "reach" for that applicant to gain admittance.

Reserve Officers' Training Corps (ROTC). Programs conducted by certain colleges in cooperation with the United States Air Force, Army, and Navy. Naval ROTC includes the Marine Corps (the Coast Guard and Merchant Marine do not sponsor ROTC programs). Local recruiting offices of the services themselves can supply detailed information about these programs, as can participating colleges.

Residency requirements. Most colleges and universities require that a student spend a minimum number of terms taking courses on campus (as opposed to independent study, transfer credits from other colleges, or credit-by-examination) to be eligible for graduation. Also, residency requirements can refer to the minimum amount of time a student is required to have lived in a state in order to be eligible for in-state tuition at a public (state-controlled) college or university.

Resident Assistant (RA). A student who works in a residence hall as a trained staff member and coordinates programming, serves as a resource and referral agent, implements room and area inspections, and helps maintain standards of behavior.

Rolling admission. An admission procedure by which the college considers each student's application as soon as all the required credentials, such as school record and test scores, have been received. The college usually notifies an applicant of its decision without delay. At many colleges, rolling admission allows for early notification and works much like nonbinding early action programs.

Safety School. School for which an applicant is probably well qualified and is therefore reasonably well assured of admission.

SAT I Question-and-Answer Service. A service of the College Board that provides students with a copy of their SAT I test, their answers and the correct answers, scoring instructions, and information about the questions. The service is only available for certain test dates.

SAT I: Reasoning Test. The College Board's test of developed verbal and mathematical reasoning abilities, given on specified dates throughout the year at test centers in the United States and other countries. The SAT I is required by many colleges and sponsors of financial aid programs.

SAT II: Subject Tests. College Board tests in specific subjects, given at test centers in the United States and other countries on specified dates throughout the year. Used by colleges not only to help with decisions about admission but also in course placement and exemption of enrolled freshmen. Includes ELPT.

Section 529 plans. State sponsored college savings programs commonly referred to as "529 plans" after the section of the Internal Revenue Code that provides the plans' tax advantages.

Semester. A period of about 16 weeks. Colleges on a semester system offer two semesters of instruction a year; there may be an additional summer session.

Semester at sea. A program for credit, usually for students with majors in oceanography or marine-related fields, in which students live on a ship, frequently a research vessel, for part of a semester. Academic courses are generally taken in conjunction with the sea experience or at separate times during the semester.

Student Aid Report (SAR). A report produced by the U.S. Department of Education and sent to students in response to their having filed the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The SAR contains information the student provided on the FAFSA as well as the federally calculated result, which the financial aid office will use in determining the student's eligibility for a Federal Pell Grant and other federal student aid programs.

Student-designed major. An academic program that allows a student to construct a major field of study not formally offered by the college. Often nontraditional and interdisciplinary in nature, the major is developed by the student with the approval of a designated college officer or committee.

Study abroad. Any arrangement by which a student completes part of the college program--typically the junior year but sometimes only a semester or a summer--studying in another country. A college may operate a campus abroad, or it may have a cooperative agreement with some other U.S. college or an institution of the other country. Teacher certification. A college program designed to prepare students to meet the requirements for certification as teachers in elementary and secondary schools. Terminal degree. The highest degree level attainable in a particular field. For most teaching faculty this is a doctoral degree. In certain fields, however, a master's degree is the highest level.

Syllabus. A course outline that delineates course requirements, grading criteria, course content, faculty expectations, deadlines, examination dates, grading policies, and other relevant course data.

Terminal program. An education program designed to prepare students for immediate employment. These programs usually can be completed in less than four years beyond high school and are available in most community colleges and vocational-technical institutes.

Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL). A test used to evaluate the English proficiency of students whose first language is not English.

3-2 program. See Liberal arts/career combination.

Transcript. A copy of a student's official academic record listing all courses taken and grades received.

Transfer program. An education program in a two-year college (or a four-year college that offers associate degrees) primarily for students who plan to continue their studies in a four-year college or university.

Transfer. Despite your best efforts, you may find that your chosen school isn't the perfect fit. Or, you may start out at community college and decide that it's time to attend a four-year univeristy. In either case, you may need to transfer to a different school. Transferring can be a tricky process, especially when it comes time to figure out how many of your previously earned credits will count at your new school. To make your transition as simple as possible, request application materials from prospective schools as early as possible and figure out how your credits will be accounted for BEFORE you apply. Once you're in, take advantage of transfer student resources designed to help you get comfortable in your new setting.

Transfer student. A student who has attended another college for any period, which may be defined by various colleges as any time from a single term up to three years. A transfer student may receive credit for all or some of the courses successfully completed before the transfer.

Trimester. An academic calendar period of about 15 weeks. Three trimesters make up one year. Students normally progress by attending two of the trimesters each year and in some colleges can accelerate their programs by attending all three trimesters in one or more years.

Tuition & fees. Tuition is a student's basic payment towards the cost of instruction at a college or university. Most institutions also charge fees for laboratory equipment and materials, computer use, parking, and other miscellaneous costs.

Two-year upper-division college. A college offering bachelor's degree programs that begin with the junior year. Entering students must have completed the freshman and sophomore years at other colleges.

United Nations semester. A program in which students generally take courses at a college in the New York City metropolitan area while participating in an internship program at the United Nations.

University. Though we use the term "college" to describe all post-secondary schools, you may be applying to universities as well as colleges. There can be some important differences: Universities generally support both undergraduate and graduate programs and tend to be larger than colleges. You may find more research opportunities at a university, but you might get more attention from professors at a college.

Unmet Need. The difference between a student's budget and his/her contribution. The maximum amount of aid a student is eligible to receive. In most cases, there is not enough financial aid available to cover this amount.

Upper division. The junior and senior years of study. Some colleges offer only upper-division study--students must have completed the freshman and sophomore years (lower division) at other institutions before entering the upper-division institution to earn their bachelor's degree.

Urban semester. A program for credit in which students of diverse majors spend a semester in a major city, such as New York, Philadelphia, Chicago, Denver, or San Francisco, experiencing the complexities of an urban center through course work, seminars, and/or internships related to their major.

Virtual university. A degree granting, accredited institution wherein all courses are delivered by distance learning, with no physical campus.

W-2 Form. A statement of a year's earned wages which employers must issue to an employee shortly after January 1 the following year. The W-2 Form is most often attached to Income Tax Returns to show proof of earned wages to the State and Federal Income Revenue Services.

Wait-list. A list 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 take a complete course of study and attend classes only on weekends. These programs are generally restricted to a few areas of study at a college and require more than the traditional number of years to complete.

Weighted GPA. Some high schools add 0.5 grade points to grades earned in AP or IB courses to reflect their unusual level of difficulty. If you have taken such courses, your GPA may be considered weighted. Some colleges convert weighted GPAs to standard GPAs for the purposes of comparison.

Work-study. An arrangement by which a student combines employment and college study. The employment may be an integral part of the academic program (as in cooperative education and internships) or simply a means of paying for college (as in the Federal Work-Study Program). The federal government and colleges or universities jointly sponsor this program. Most jobs are on campus but some may be off campus as well.

Modified from several sources including Collegeboard, USNews, SUNY, Columbia University, Sierra College, Colgate University, etc. Updated regularly. Questions / Comments are welcome.
 
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