College Terms

Academic advisor

Need help choosing your courses? Your academic advisor is there to assist you. They also review the course requirements for your major and minor to make sure you’re getting your degree requirements met.

Associate’s degree
Programs of 60 credits or more that combine coursework in a major field with broader courses in general education, such as written communication, oral communication, math, natural and social sciences, and humanities. Most associate’s degrees take two years.

Audit
Want to take a class without the pressure of a grade? With the approval of the instructor, you can audit the class as a “visitor” of sorts. Just remember, you can’t ask for course credit later just because it turns out to be easy!

Baccalaureate (or bachelor’s) degree
Programs of 120 credits or more that provide extensive study in a specific area. In addition, the content found in these programs teaches students to research, reason, analyze and communicate their ideas and opinions. Most bachelor’s degrees take four to five years.

Bridge courses
Offered to students who need to brush up on courses they took (or never took but needed to!) in high school. Bridge courses are non-degree credit courses.

Class standing
Wondering how your 23-year-old roommate can still be considered a sophomore? It has more to do with his class standing than his age. Class standing is based on the total number of credits you’ve earned. For example: Freshman: 0 – 29 credits; Sophomore: 30-59 credits; Junior 60-89 credits; Senior: 90+ credits.

College Level Examination Program (CLEP)
If you want to earn college credit by taking proficiency tests in certain courses, the CLEP is for you. Get a high enough score and you’ll get credit for a class you never took!

Commuter college
Not all campuses have dorms. At some smaller colleges, all students live off campus and commute to campus for classes.

Concurrent enrollment
Did you know you can attend two institutions at the same time? If you qualify, you can even attend college while you’re still in high school.

Course prefixes and numbers
Sounds simple enough – just a bunch of letters and numbers, right? Actually, there’s a trick: Courses are identified first by a prefix of letters that is an abbreviation for a subject—e.g., ENG for engineering. They then have a three- or four-digit number, such as ENG 100, ENG 121 or ENG 122. The first digit indicates the class year in which the course is usually taken. The other two digits identify the subject field. A course that begins with zero (such as ENG 022) indicates that it doesn’t carry credit hours toward a degree. At some colleges, the last letter of the prefix helps further define the course, such as G for general, L for lab or C for combined lecture and lab.

Credit hours
College courses are measured in credit hours. To earn one credit hour, a student has to attend a class for one classroom hour (though it’s not always a full 60 minutes) per week for the semester. Most classes are offered in one- to four-hour increments.

Curriculum
The classes outlined by a college or university needed to complete a degree.

Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)
This standard application for financial aid includes grants, loans and work-study. It’s usually required for scholarships as well.

Humanities courses
Most undergraduate degrees require a number of these classes, which include literature, fine arts and philosophy.

Impacted programs
Sometimes heavy enrollment causes a degree program (e.g. nursing) to be temporarily closed to new students.

Liberal arts
A course of study that covers the humanities (the arts, philosophy and literature), history, natural sciences, foreign languages, math and social sciences (see below). Good for the student who doesn’t feel drawn to specialize in something like engineering, accounting, nursing, etc.


Open-door institution
This term typically refers to public community colleges (or junior colleges) that allow anyone who is at least 18 to attend – even if they never finished high school.

Registrar
The registrar is the official (or sometimes, an entire department of officials) in charge of academic records at a college or university. You’ll probably hear the term a lot when you need to know about athletic eligibility, honor roll, degree requirements for graduation, etc.

Resident Advisor/Assistant (RA)
Generally, an upperclassman who lives in the dorm with younger students to provide support and advice.

Social sciences
In a broad sense, social sciences are the courses that allow you to study the human aspects of the world, including sociology, geography, economics, history, anthropology, psychology, political science, etc.

Syllabus
A professor’s outline of the class highlighting assignments, test dates, policies and textbooks.

Work-study
Programs that allow students to work, often on campus, as part of their financial aid package.
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STUDENT LOAN - Money that a student borrows and must repay.

WORK STUDY PROGRAM - Provides money, paying students for qualified campus jobs.

ACCREDITATION -Measurement process to ensure a school has basic quality.

ACT - American College Testing www.actstudent.org

ASVAB - Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery– A career exploration tool in addition to identifying military aptitude.

CAMPUS CULTURE-Characteristics that give each training program its unique personality.

COMMON APPLICATION - College submission site used by hundreds of colleges.

SAT-Scholastic Aptitude Test

ACT-American College Testing

COMPASS TEST-Computerized test that helps your college evaluate your skills and place you into appropriated courses.

COSIGNER-The person responsible for paying back a loan if you do not.

FAFSA-Free Application for Federal Student Aid.

EFC-The amount FAFSA says you and your family should contribute towards your education, training.

GRANT-An award of financial assistance, does not need to be paid back.

PELL GRANT-Federal Grant done through the FAFSA application.

NEED BASED-Financial aid that depends solely on your family’s income.