Glossary of Admission Terms
Academic adviser — This is a senior
faculty member in your area of concentration who is assigned to advise you on
course selections and requirements. Before you declare your major, you will be
assigned a temporary faculty adviser.
Accelerated study — This program
allows you to graduate in less time than is usually required. For instance, by
taking summer terms and extra courses during the academic year, you could
finish a bachelor's degree in three years instead of four.
- Admit — You're in! You are being offered admissions to
the college to which you applied. Your high school will receive
- Admit/deny — You have been admitted but denied any
financial aid. It is up to you to figure out how you are going to pay for
- Deny — You are not in. The decision is made by the
college or university admissions committee and is forwarded to you and
your high school.
- Wait list — You are not in yet but have been placed on
a waiting list in case and opening becomes available. Schools rank their
wait list in order of priority, and unfortunately, the more competitive
schools have years when they never draw from their wait lists. After a
certain time, a rejection notice is sent.
Advanced Placement (AP) courses —
High-level, quality courses in any of twenty subjects. The program is
administered through the College Board to offer high school course descriptions
equated to college courses and correlated to AP examinations in those subjects.
High schools provide the courses as part of their curriculum to eligible
students. Based on the composite score on an AP test, which ranges from 0 to 5,
a college may award college credit or advanced placement to a participating
student. A score of a 4 or 5 on the AP test is usually required by colleges for
credit or advanced placement in college courses. A 3 is sometimes acceptable in
foreign languages and some other subject areas. Some colleges limit the number
of AP credits that they will recognize. Check schools' policies on AP credits.
Alternative assessment — This method
personalizes the admissions process and offers students an opportunity to be
viewed more individually and holistically. Less emphasis is placed on
standardized test scores and more on the interview, portfolio, recommendations,
American College Testing (ACT)
Program Assessment — An alternative to the SAT, this test has gained wide
acceptance by a broad range of institutions in recent years and is given during
the school year at test centers. The ACT tests English, mathematics, reading,
and science reasoning. These subject test scores can be used in lieu of SAT II
subject tests, which are required for admission to some of the more competitive
colleges. The score is the average of all four tests; the maximum score is 36.
Associate degree — A degree granted
by a college or university after the satisfactory completion of a two-year
full-time program of study or its part-time equivalent. Types of degrees
include the Associate of Arts (A.A.) or Associate of Science (A.S.), usually
granted after the equivalent of the first two years of a four-year college
curriculum, and the Associate in Applied Science (A.A.S.), awarded upon
completion of a technical or vocational program of study.
Award package — This is the way
colleges and universities deliver their news about student eligibility for
financial aid or grants. The most common packages include Pell Grants, Stafford
Loans, and Work Study (see below).
Bachelor's or baccalaureate degree —
The degree received after the satisfactory completion of a full-time program of
study or its part-time equivalent at a college or university. The Bachelor of
Arts (B.A) and the Bachelor of Science (B.S.) are the most common
Candidates Reply Date Agreement
(CRDA) — If admitted to a college, a student does not have to reply until May
1. This allows time to hear from all the colleges to which the student applied
before having to make a commitment to any of them. This is especially important
because financial aid packages vary from one school to another, and the CRDA
allows time to compare packages before deciding.
College-preparatory subjects —
Courses taken in high school that are viewed by colleges and universities as a
strong preparation for college work. The specific courses are usually in the
five majors area of English, history, world languages, mathematics, and
science. The courses may be regular, honors-level, or AP offerings, and the
latter two categories are often weighted when calculated in the GPA.
College Scholarship Service (CSS) —
When the federal government changed the FAFSA form several years ago, the
College Board created this program to assist postsecondary institutions, state
scholarship programs, and other organizations in measuring a family's financial
strength and analyzing its ability to contribute to college costs. CSS
processes the PROFILE financial form that students may use to apply for
nonfederal aid. This form is submitted to some 300 private colleges and
universities along with the FAFSA when seeking financial aid from these
institutions. Participating colleges and universities indicate whether they
require this form.
Common Application — The Common
Application is a not-for-profit organization that serves students and member
institutions by providing an admission application – online and in print – that
students may submit to any of our 415 members.
Control — A college or university
can be under public or private control. Publicly controlled universities are
dependent on state legislatures for their funding, and their policies are set
by the agencies that govern them. Private colleges and universities are
responsible to a board of directors or trustees. They usually have higher
tuition and fees to protect the institutions' endowment.
Cost of education — This includes
tuition and fees, room and board, books and supplies, transportation, and
miscellaneous expenses. A student's financial aid eligibility is the difference
between the cost of education and the Expected Family Contribution as computed
by the federal government using the FAFSA.
Course load — The number of course
credit hours a student takes in each semester. Twelve credit hours is the
minimum to be considered a full-time student. The average course load per
semester is 16 credit hours.
Credit hours — The number of hours
per week that courses meet are counted as equivalent credits for financial aid
and used to determine you status as a full- or part-time student.
Deferred acceptance — the admissions
decision is being moved to a later date.
Double major — Available at most
schools, the double major allows a student to complete all the requirements to
simultaneously earn a major in two fields.
Early Action (EA) — A student
applies to a school early in the senior year, between October 30 and January
15, and requests an early application review and notification of admission. The
answer usually takes three to four weeks after application. If accepted, the
student is not obligated to attend that institution but can bank this admission
and still apply to other colleges during the regular admission cycle.
Early admission — Some colleges will
admit certain students who have not completed high school, usually exceptional
juniors. The students are enrolled full-time and do not complete their senior
year of high school. Colleges usually award high school diplomas to these
students after they have completed a certain number of college-level courses.
Early Decision (ED) — Sometimes
confused with Early Action, the Early Decision plan allows students to apply to
an institution early in the senior year, also between October 30 and January
15, and request an early notification of admission. The student and guidance
counselor sign a contract with the school at the time of application that
indicates that if accepted, the student is obligated to attend that
institution. Some colleges and universities offer both ED and EA options.
Emphasis — An area of concentration
within a major or minor; for example, an English major may have an emphasis in
Expected Family Contribution (EFC) —
The amount of financial support a family is expected to contribute toward a
child's college education. This amount is part of the formula used by the
federal government to determine financial aid eligibility using the FAFSA form.
Federal Pell Grant Program — This is
a federally sponsored and administered program that provides grants based on
need to undergraduate students. Congress annually sets the appropriation; award
amounts vary based on need, and the maximum award for 2010-11 is $5,550. This
is "free" money because it does not need to be repaid.
Federal Perkins Loan Program — This
is a federally run program based on need and administered by a college's
financial aid office. This program offers low-interest loans for undergraduate
study. Repayment does not begin until 9 months after the borrower drops to less
than halftime enrollment status. The maximum loan amount is $5,500 per year.
Federal Stafford Loan — This federal
program provides low-interest loans for undergraduate and graduate students.
The maximum annual loan amount depends on the student’s grade level. Fixed
interest rates will not exceed 6.8%. Repayment does not begin until 6 months
after the borrower drops to less than halftime enrollment status. Several
repayment options are available.
Federal Work-Study Program (FSW) — A
federally financed program that arranges for students to combine 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
Free Application for Federal Student
Aid (FAFSA) — This is the federal government's instrument for calculating
need-based aid. It is available from high school guidance departments, college
financial aid offices, and the Internet (www.fafsa.gov). The form should be
completed and mailed as soon after January 1 as possible.
Gap — The difference between the
amount of a financial aid package and the cost of attending a college or
university. The student and his/her family are expected to fill the gap.
Grants/scholarships — These are
financial awards that are usually dispensed by the financial aid offices of
colleges and universities. The awards may be need- or merit-based. Most are
need-based. Merit-based awards may be awarded on the basis of excellence in
academics, leadership, volunteerism, athletic ability, or special talent.
Greek life — This phrase refers to
sororities and fraternities. These organizations often have great impact on the
campus social life of a college or university.
Honors program — Honors programs
offer an enriched, top-quality educational experience that often includes small
class size, custom-designed courses, mentoring, enriched individualized
learning, hands-on research, and publishing opportunities. A handpicked faculty
guides students through the program. Honors programs are a great way to attend
a large school that offers enhanced social and recreational opportunities while
receiving an Ivy League-like education at a
Internship — This is an
experience-based opportunity, most often scheduled during breaks in the
academic calendar, whereby a student receives credit for a supervised work
experience related to his or her major.
Major — The concentration of a
number of credit hours in a specific subject. Colleges and universities often
specify the number of credits needed to receive a major, the sequence of
courses, and the level of course necessary to complete the requirements.
Merit awards, merit-based
scholarships — More "free" money, these awards are based on
excellence in academics, leadership, volunteerism, athletic ability, and other
areas determined by the granting organization, which can be a college or
university, an organization, or an individual. They are not based on financial
Minor — An area of concentration
with fewer credits than a major. The minor can be related to the major area of
concentration or not; for example, an English major may have a minor in
Need blind — Admissions decisions
made without reference to a student's financial aid request, that is, an
applicant's financial need is not known to the committee at the time of
Nonmatriculated — A student who has
either not been admitted yet but is taking classes or has been academically
dismissed. Under this category, a student may neither receive financial aid nor
participate in an athletic program at that school.
Open admissions — A policy of
admission that does not subject applicants to a review of their academic
qualifications. Many public junior/community colleges admit students under this
guideline, that is, any student with a high school diploma or its equivalent is
Preliminary Scholastic Assessment
Test (PSAT)/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test — This test, given in
October, duplicates the kinds of questions asked on the SAT but is shorter and
takes less time. Usually taken in the junior year, the test also acts as a
qualifying instrument for the National Merit Scholarship Awards Program and is
helpful for early college guidance.
Reserve Officers' Training Corps
(ROTC) — Each branch of the military sponsors an ROTC program. In exchange for
a certain number of years on active duty, students can have their college
education paid for up to a certain amount by the armed forces.
Residency requirement — The term has
more than one meaning. It can refer to the fact that a college may require a
specific number of course to be taken on campus to receive a degree from the
school, or the phrase can mean the time, by law, that is required for a person
to reside in the state to be considered eligible for in-state tuition at one of
its public colleges or universities.
Retention rate — The number and
percentage of students returning for the sophomore year.
Rolling admissions — There is no
deadline for filing a college application. This concept is used most often by
state universities. Responses are received within three to four weeks. If
admitted, a student is not required to confirm, in most cases, until May 1.
Out-of-state residents applying to state universities should apply as early as
Scholastic Assessment Test (SAT) I:
Reasoning Test — Also known as "board scores" because the test was
developed by the College Board. This test concentrates on verbal and
mathematical reasoning abilities and is given throughout the academic year at
test centers. The maximum combined score for both sections is 1600.
SAT II Subject Tests — These
subject-specific exams are given on the same test dates and in the same centers
as the SAT I. More emphasis has been placed on these tests in recent years, not
only because they are used for admission purposes, but also for placement and
Seminar — A class that has a group
discussion format rather than a lecture format.
Silent scores — The term is applied
to PSAT scores because only the student and his or her guidance counselor see
the scores. They are not reported to colleges. It is the "practice without
penalty" feature of the test.
Student Aid Report (SAR) — Report of
the government's review of a student's FAFSA. The SAR is sent to the student
and released electronically to the schools that the student listed. The SAR
does not supply a real money figure for aid but indicates whether the student
Transfer program — This program is usually
found in a two-year college or in a four-year college that offers associate
degrees. It allows a student to continue his or her studies in a four-year
college by maintaining designated criteria set down at acceptance to the
two-year program. It is not necessary to earn an associate degree to transfer.
Transfer student — A student who
transfers from one college or university to another. Credits applied toward the
transfer will be evaluated by the receiving school to determine the number it
will accept. Each school sets different policies for transfers, so anyone
considering this option should seek guidance.
Upper division — This term refers to
the junior and senior years of study. Some colleges offer only upper-division
study. The lower divisions must be completed at another institution before
entering these programs to earn a bachelor's degree.
Virtual visit — This is the use of
the Internet to investigate various colleges by looking at their home pages. A
student can "tour" the college, ask questions vie e-mail, read school
newspapers, and explore course offerings and major requirements on line. It is
not a substitute for a live visit.
Waiver to view recommendations — The
form many high schools ask their students to sign by which they agree not to
review their teachers' recommendation letters before they are sent to the
colleges or universities to which they are applying.
Yield — The percentage of accepted
students who will enter a college or university in the freshman class; these
students have received formal acceptance notices and must respond by May 1 with
their intention to enroll. The more competitive the school, the higher the