Glossary of Terms

During the college application process, you'll come across a variety of terms that you may or may not be familiar with. Click on the tabs below to get acquainted with many of the most common college admissions buzz words. Tabs are sorted by the first letter of the word you're looking up!

A

AA (ASSOCIATE OF ARTS)

A 2-year community college degree. Also offered by some 4-year colleges.

ACADEMIC CALENDAR
Breaks the school year into one of the following: semesters (two terms of 17-18 weeks; quarters (three terms of 11 weeks); trimesters (two terms of 15 weeks, third term optional).


ACCREDITATION
The recognition by an outside agency that a school maintains a high standards that enable students to qualify for admission to other accredited institutions.

ADMISSION REQUIREMENTS
A set of rules established by each college for a student to be accepted.

ADVANCED STANDING
Admission status when a student has completed more than 12 college credits.

"A-G" COURSES
Refers to the list of subjects required for admission by the University of California:

A. U.S. History, 2 years
B. English, 4 years
C. Mathematics, 3 years
D. Laboratory Science, 2 years
E. Foreign Language, 2 years
F. Visual & Performing Arts, 1 year
G. Elective, 1 year

AP (ADVANCED PLACEMENT)
A system by which college freshmen may bypass entry-level courses by proving that they have already taken the equivalent in high school. Credit is awarded if a student earns a certain grade on an AP exam taken in high school.

B

B.A. (BACHELOR OF ARTS) OR B.S. (BACHELOR OF SCIENCE)
A 4-year college degree.

C

CAL GRANTS
Grant aid for students attending college in California. Available to students with financial need as they continue their education at a college or vocational school. This type uses financial need and GPA to award grants at varying levels. Forms and details are available at the California Student Aid Commission.

COLLEGE CATALOG

A book published by the college describing requirements for admission, degrees, services and course descriptions.

CREDIT
A way of referring to the number of credits which are earned in a course. Also known as semester hours, unit hours, quarter hours or units. Approximately 64 credits are needed for an AA degree, and 124 credits for a BA degree for schools on a semester calendar. If a class meets three hours per week, it is usually a 3 credit course. A full-time student at college usually attends 5 classes and earns 15 credits per semester.

CSU (CALIFORNIA STATE UNIVERSITIES)
The 23 public state campuses

CUMULATIVE RECORD OR PERMANENT RECORD CARD
The complete record of all courses and grades earned. Your transcript is a copy of your cumulative record or permanent record card.

D

Titles given to college graduates upon completion of a program. A 4-year degree is usually a BA or BS, a 5th- or 6th-year degree is often an MA (Master of Arts), with a Doctoral degree (Ph.D.) requiring approximately 5 years beyond the BA or BS.

E

EARLY ACTION
Under this plan, highly qualified candidates who apply early may receive offers of admission by mid-December. Unlike the Early Decision Plan, the Early Action Plan does not allow an institution to request an applicant to make a prior commitment to matriculate, indicate college preferences, or make any response to an offer of admission until the traditional May 1 candidate’s reply date.

EARLY DECISION
Some colleges offer to notify applicants of acceptance or rejection during the first semester of their senior year. There are two types of early decision plans. In the single-choice plan, students cannot apply to other colleges until they have been notified by the early decision college. In the first-choice plan, students may apply to other colleges, but name the early decision college as the first choice and agree to enroll at that college and withdraw all other applications if accepted.

EARLY EVALUATION PROCEDURE
A plan under which applicants to some Ivy League institutions (Brown, Columbia, Cornell, Dartmouth, Harvard, Pennsylvania, Princeton, and Yale) and M.I.T. receive between November 1 and February 15 an evaluation of their chances for acceptance. Categories used are likely, possible, unlikely, and insufficient evidence for evaluation. Final notification is make on a common date in April.

F

FAFSA (FREE APPLICATION FOR FEDERAL STUDENT AID)
This is the form required to apply for financial aid by the University of California and the California State University along with the California Student Aid Commission Grade Verification Form. These forms are free and available in the counseling office in November. The Federal Student Aid Program highly recommends all families to complete the FAFSA online.

FEE
A sum of money that must be paid for a variety of things in college, such as for admission, registration, graduation, health services, etc.

FEE WAIVER
A form available to students having a family income that meets the U.S. Department of Labor definition of low income. The Fee Waiver Form is submitted instead of money when applying for college testing or admission.

FINANCIAL AID
Money from a variety of sources, (grants, loan, scholarship, work study) that helps pay for college costs. The “package” of funds is determined by family financial need and the availability of funds. Families may begin the financial aid process in January of the student's senior year.

FINANCIAL NEED
The difference between the cost of education and what the family or the applicant can reasonably be expected to contribute.

FULL-TIME STUDENT
A college student who generally takes a minimum of either 12 units per quarter or 12 units per semester.

G

GENERAL EDUCATION REQUIREMENTS
Courses selected from several divisions required for a college degree. These are completed the first two years of college. The second two years involve coursework in major and minor areas.

GPA (GRADE POINT AVERAGE)
A student’s average grade, computed on a four point scale. An A counts as 4; B is 3; a C is 2; a D is 1, and an F is 0. Each student has several GPAs; one for the semester, one cumulative GPA that includes previous semesters, and a state GPA. Honors or AP courses earn one extra grade point.

GRANTS
Payments made to students by various organizations, including CAL Grants from the State of California. Grants do not have to be paid back.

I

IMPACTED PROGRAM
A college degree program, such as computer science, that may be temporarily closed to new students due to heavy enrollment or may require supplementary screening of student records.

M

M.A. (MASTER OF ARTS) OR M.S. (MASTER OF SCIENCE)
A college degree usually requiring one or two years work beyond the BA.

MAJOR
The main area of study in college, usually requiring about one year in a planned series of courses during the 4 year program.

MINOR
Approximately 18 credits in an academic area outside major department.

P

PELL GRANT
Financial aid from the Federal Government available to students with financial need to be used at many types of colleges and vocational schools. Apply in January of the senior year.

Ph. D. (DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY)
A degree earned by work completed beyond the masters of arts or masters of science.

PREREQUISITES
Courses, test scores, and/or grade level that must be completed before taking a specific courses.

PRIVATE COLLEGE
A school which is not supported by state taxes. (Public colleges are supported by tuition fees, taxes, and other state funds).

PSAT/NMSQT (PRELIMINARY SCHOLASTIC APTITUDE TEST/NATIONAL MERIT SCHOLARSHIP QUALIFYING TEST)
A shortened version of the SAT offered in October for high school sophomores and juniors. The scores are helpful in all college admission planning and/or qualifying for National Merit and other scholarships.

Q

QUALIFIED ACCEPTANCE
Occasionally an institution postpones action on an application and will suggest that the applicant pursue a particular course in its summer session. Upon satisfactory completion of this course, the college agrees to accept the student for its regular degree programs at the beginning of the first or second semester.

R

ROLLING ADMISSIONS
This means that a college gives an admissions decision as soon as possible after an application is completed and does not specify a notification deadline. Usually, it is wise to apply early to such colleges, since applications are normally not accepted after the admissions quota has been reached.

ROTC
Many colleges have units of the Reserve Officer’s Training Corps that offer two and four year programs of military training culminating in an officer’s commission. In some colleges credit for the courses can be applied toward a degree. ROTC scholarships are available which pay for full college costs.

S

SAT REASONING TEST
A college admission exam measuring verbal and math reasoning.

SAT SUBJECT TESTS
One hour exams offered in 18 different subjects. Writing, Math and one other test are required by UC schools.

SCHOLARSHIPS
Gifts of money awarded for achievement, skills, talents and/or financial need. Most scholarships are awarded to high school seniors in the spring semester and usually range from $25 to several hundred dollars. Students do not necessarily need to have an "A" grade point average to apply.

SIR (STATEMENT OF INTENT TO REGISTER)
This is the form that must be returned to the college of your choice by a specified date, usually at the beginning of May. It confirms your intent to register at the college and reserves a spot for you.

SUBJECT A
A UC graduation requirement certifying proficiency in English. May be satisfied by test scores or enrollment in all freshmen reading and composition courses. The Subject A Test, a diagnostic essay exam administered by UC, is one means of fulfilling the requirement. This test is normally administered in May for freshmen who plan to enroll in the University in the fall at test centers throughout the state.

SUMMER SESSION
College summer school. Open entry (not “formal” admission) makes it possible for students to take classes at almost any campus and then transfer it to the “home” campus towards their degree. Students who plan to continue in the fall must file for fall admission.

T

TRANSCRIPT
A copy of your official record of grades and courses from time of entrance to the end of the latest semester.

TRANSFER COURSES
College courses giving credit which may be transferred to another college.

TRANSFER STUDENTS
College students who transfer from one college to another, usually at the end of sophomore year. Changing colleges during the junior or senior year, when the student is completing major requirements, is not recommended.

TUITION
A fee that is paid for instruction in a school, college, or university.

U

UC (UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA)
The10-campus system includes Berkeley, Davis, Irvine, Los Angeles, Riverside, San Diego, Santa Barbara, and Santa Cruz. The ninth, and newest campus, is UC Merced. The tenth campus, San Francisco, is devoted to the health sciences and is for graduate study only.

UNDERGRADUATE
College student who has not yet received a bachelor’s degree.

W

WAITING LIST
In addition to accepting and rejecting applicants, many colleges place students on a waiting list for admission. As accepted applicants decide to attend other colleges, the school will offer their places to students on the waiting list.

WEIGHTED GPA
High school honors classes are given a extra point when computing the grade point average. An A counts as 5; B is 4; and C is 3. D’s and F’s in honors courses are not given extra points. Note: Only certain classes are given the honors point for the UC and CSU systems. UC and CSU grade point averages are calculated with the college counselor during 1st semester of the student's senior year.

WORK STUDY
A federally funded program that makes part-time jobs available to students with financial need.