College Admissions Glossary

Going through the admissions process, students will have to familiarize themselves with the different terminologies used for application requirements, financial aid and scholarship grants, academic programs, and admissions tests. This will help applicants explore the different options available to them and make important decisions with their college application. Listed here are some of the most important terms used during college admission and their quick and easy definitions that applicants can use as a guide:


Academic Adviser – senior faculty staff assigned to guide students on course selection and requirements

Accelerated Study – a fast-paced program that could help you graduate earlier than the regular years needed to finish your course

Acceptance Form – a documentation of a student’s receipt of an award or a merit. This is often accompanied by an Award Letter

Admissions Deadline – last day of submission of admission applications

Admissions Interview – a one-on-one dialogue with a representative of the institution for the purpose of getting to know the applicant better

Admissions Plans – a college’s or university’s method of processing your admissions applications

Admissions Process – the actual step by step process of admissions, from the submission of the application form and other requirements to having an interview with the admissions panel

Advanced Placement (AP) Courses – college level courses taken in high school to increase the chances of college placement

Alternative Assessment – a more holistic way of looking at each applicant, through interview, recommendations, portfolio, and essay instead of standardized tests

Alumni – graduates of the university

American College Testing (ACT) Program Assessment – a standardized test that can be used to assess a student, aside from the SAT that evaluates science, reasoning, reading, mathematics, and English skills

Applicant – a student who has submitted admission papers to a particular institution

Associate Degree – a degree that is granted after completing a two-year course or part-time program

Award Letter – a form that informs students about the financial aid being offered. The letter includes information about the amount of financial assistance they can get, the requirements or qualifications, their responsibilities, and some conditions regarding the program. The letter is often accompanied by an Acceptance Form.


Bachelor’s Degree – also known as a baccalaureate degree, this is granted after a four-year program


Campus-based Programs – federal state loans and grants offered directly through academic institutions

Campus Diversity – a university characteristic showing variety in ethnicity, religion, nationality, and so many other groupings in its student body and community

Campus Life – the overall environment, academics, demographics, and other aspects of the university’s community

Campus Tour – a service provided to prospective students so that they can get an idea of what life is like on campus

Candidates Reply Date Agreement (CRDA) – with this agreement, admitted students do not have to commit to a college or university before May 1 so that they can compare and contrast financial aid packages and different schools before making a decision

Career College – career-focused technical or professional college

Catalogue – detailed overview of what a university or college is all about

College Board – a non-profit group that offers varied services to prospective college students, their parents, and their educators

College Entrance Exams – written assessment to gauge a student’s capability to cope academically

College Preparatory Subjects – courses that prepare students for college, which may include AP subjects, regular subjects, and honors level subjects

College Scholarship Service – a College Board service that helps students get organized for federal loan or grants applications

Common and Universal Application – a standardized college application form

Commuter Student – refers to any student who lives outside of campus

Cooperative Education – a program that alternates between full-time college academics and full-time employment on a related field

Cost of Education – the total expenses of going to school. Aside from tuition, this includes room and board, supplies, books, and more.

Course Load – this refers to the number of credit hours taken per semester

Credit Hours – the hours required for a student to attend a certain class per week

Cross-registration – an agreement among colleges that allows a student to take courses in a second institution, in which he or she is not formally enrolled in


Deferred Acceptance – this means that the decision for admissions will be made on a later date

Demonstrated Need – difference between the cost of attending college and expected family contribution

Denial – a decision in which the student is not accepted for admission

Double Major – a program that enables a student to finish the requirements for two majors at one time

Dual Enrollment – this arrangement enables a student to attain college credits even when still in his or her high school years


Early Action – a student applying for college admission within 30th of October and 15th of January, early in his or her senior year

Early Admission (EA) – admission to college of high school students who haven’t graduated yet but have finished a certain number of course subjects

Early Decision – given to students who have applied early in their senior year, between October 30 and January 15, with the agreement that the students will attend the institution if admitted

Emphasis – a study focus within a major or even a minor

Expected Family Contribution (EFC) – expected financial support coming from the student’s family

External Degree Program – a program in which a student can gain credits from course work outside of campus, through long-distance learning, personal experience, and more


Federal Perkins Loan Program – a federally-offered, need-based student loan with low interest rates and a maximum amount of $5,500

Federal Stafford Loan – federally-offered, low-interest loan for both undergraduate and graduate students, wherein the maximum amount depends on a student’s grade level

Federal Work-Study Program (FSW) – a program set up by the government, which allows the student to be employed while studying

Financial Aid – money that supplements the expected family contribution to get the student through college

Financial Aid Award Package – a combination of loans, grants, and work provided for a student in financial need

First Generation Student – a student whose parents have not gone to college

Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) – the required application form for students who are seeking federal aid


Grants/Scholarships – financial aid that do not require repayment and may be merit- or need-based

Greek Life – refers to fraternities and sororities of a university or college


Honors Program – sometimes referred to as Ivy League at a lower cost, as students with exceptionally high grades are given focused instruction


Independent Study – a setup in which a student completes course requirements on his or her own

Interdisciplinary – a course taught by faculty members coming from a variety of disciplines or fields of study

Internship – experience-based learning


Major – a field of study in which a student has gone through a required number of hours

Merit Awards – grants or scholarships provided based on talent or intelligence

Minor – a field of study that requires less credits than the major


Need Blind – not taking financial capacity in consideration when making an admission decision

Nonmatriculated – a student attending classes but has not been properly enrolled yet or has been academically dismissed


Open Admissions – any student with high school diploma is accepted, without considering academic qualifications

Out of State Student – a student whose permanent address is not in the state where he or she is attending college


Preliminary Scholastic Assessment Test (PSAT)/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test – a shorter standardized test than the SAT, which is taken in October before admission to college


Remediation – an arrangement in which students who are not yet academically prepared for college are made to take remedial classes

Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) – active duty as a reserve officer in a military branch. In return for the service, an amount is covered by the armed forces for college education.

Residency Requirement – number of credits needed to earn a degree or period of time required by the law to live in a place and be considered as a resident

Retention Rate – number of students returning for the next level, for example, the sophomore year from freshman year

Rolling Admissions – a concept most often used by state universities in which there is no deadline for college admission application and confirmation is not required until May 1


Scholastic Assessment Test (SAT) – a standardized test given by the College Board to assess mathematical and verbal skills used by universities as a qualifier for admission

Seminar – a class with discussion format instead of lecture format

Selective Admissions – admission with additional standards and criteria

Silent Scores – PSAT scores are referred to as such because they are not reported or disclosed to colleges, but only to the students and their counselors.

Standby – an arrangement in which a seat at the ACT or SAT testing center can be given to the student on standby when another student is absent.

Student Aid Report (SAR) – the government’s response to the FAFSA, declaring whether the applicant is indeed eligible for the aid or not

Student-designed Major – an allowance for students to design majors on their own, with the possibility of including non-traditional approaches.


Transfer Program – a program that allows students to continue their studies in a 4-year degree course program as long as they maintain the acceptance criteria of the previous associate degree. This program is available in colleges that offer associate degrees.

Transfer Student – a student who has transferred to one college from another and who have been credited for some of the courses he or she has taken at the previous college


Upper Division – refers to the junior and senior years of study in college


Virtual Visit – browsing through the Internet, reading web brochures, and sending inquiries by email to get to know a college or university better


Waiver to View Recommendations – a form that students sign, agreeing that they will not be reading through their teachers’ recommendations before submitting them to their prospective colleges


Yield – the percentage of accepted students who will actually enroll into a particular college

As you read through different application requirements, step-by-step process for admission, and make your research about different universities and their academic programs, you are likely to encounter some, if not all, of these terms. By familiarizing yourself with these acronyms and terminologies, you are better equipped to make sound decisions regarding your college application.