Glossary of Terms


Transferring Out:

Transferring In:

Administration (AD) Building, Room 101

Building C, Room 105

John E. Harms Academic Center (Building A), Room 101


Academic Advisor

The person at a college who helps a student decide what classes to take, when to take them, how many credits to take, what major to pursue, etc.

Academic Standards

Standards, such as a certain grade point average, that students must maintain in order to remain in good standing with the college.

Academic Year

Each institution's annual schedule. Academic years are usually divided into quarters, semesters or trimesters. See "Calendar."


Colleges and schools must meet requirements in academic programs, facilities, teaching, etc. to be certified by accrediting agencies. Usually, colleges must be accredited for their students to receive financial assistance.


An organization that produces standardized admissions tests, including the ACT and PLAN. Some colleges use ACT scores to determine admission eligibility. See Standardized Admissions Tests, Scholastic Assessment Test I.

Admission Requirements

Students who want to attend a college must meet that college's specific requirements to be considered for admission. These may include high school grade point average, standardized test scores, high school courses, etc.

Admissions Tests

See Standardized Admissions Tests.

Advanced Credit

Some colleges offer tests for advanced college credit. Students who receive a high score on these tests can earn credit in specific subject areas and may skip to higher-level courses.

Advanced Placement (AP)

College-level courses (designed by the College Board) offered in high school. Students may take an AP test at the completion of these courses. Students with high scores on these tests can be placed in upper-level college courses and may receive college credit for beginning-level courses.

Advanced or Early Registration

A period of time set by colleges during which students can register early for classes.


People who have graduated from a college.

American College Testing (ACT) Program

See ACT.

Application Fee

A charge to process a student's admission application. In some cases, this fee is waived if a student shows financial need.


Training programs that combine on-the-job training and course work. The result is certified skills in specific trades. Apprentices are usually paid for their training.

Articulation Agreement

An agreement between two schools that allows course credit at one school to be accepted or transferred and applied toward a degree or certificate at another school.

Arts and Sciences

A group of academic studies that may include fine arts, languages, social sciences, natural sciences and humanities. The group may be called a division, college or school; for example, the College of Arts and Sciences at State University.

Associate's Degree

The degree granted by colleges after students complete a two-year, full-time program of required courses or its part-time equivalent. These degrees are offered by many kinds of colleges, including community colleges, technical colleges and colleges and universities that offer bachelor's degrees.


A student may register for a class with the understanding that no credit will be awarded. Students usually audit a course for self-enrichment purposes.


Baccalaureate or Bachelor's Degree

The degree granted by a college or university after students have satisfactorily completed a four-or five-year, full-time program of required courses or its part-time equivalent. Students usually receive a Bachelor's of Arts or Bachelor's of Science degree.

Board of Trustees

The policy-making and governing body of a college.


The person or office in charge of money at a college. Students pay the bursar for tuition and room and board.



How a college divides a year for classes and grading. Calendars usually run from August to May or September to June, with an additional summer calendar. See Academic Year, Quarter, Semester, Trimester.


The grounds, class buildings and residence halls of a college.

Career Plan

A set of steps to be followed over a period of time to get a desired job.


A college's book of general information about classes, faculty, costs and admission and degree requirements.


A document granted by colleges after completion of study for a specific occupation. Certificates usually require a six-month to one-year, full-time program of required courses, or its part-time equivalent.


The highest administrator of an academic department; usually a professor.


Chief administrator of a college campus; called a "president" at some schools.


Both men and women being included in a program or facility; for instance, being able to attend the same college or live in the same residence hall.


A school offering studies that lead to an academic degree. A college can be part of a larger university system, or stand alone. Colleges not in a university system usually do not offer graduate degrees.

College Board

Nonprofit association made up of college, schools, universities and other educational organizations. College Board administers the SAT, PSAT/NMSQT tests and Advanced Placement. See SAT I, PSAT/NMSQT, Advanced Placement.

College Scholarship Service (CSS)

This service processes a supplemental financial aid application called the Profile. Some colleges and universities require the Profile in addition to other financial aid forms. This is a College Board service that students must pay for.


Graduation ceremony to recognize students who have completed degree requirements.

Community College

College that offers programs (usually two years or less for full-time students) leading to certificates or associate's degrees. These programs prepare students for immediate employment or for transfer to a college or university offering bachelor's degrees.

Commuter Student

A student who does not live on-campus, but travels to campus to take classes.

Competitive Admission Policy

See Selective Admission Policy.

Conditional Admission

A college may admit students who have not met all the admission requirements. To remain, these students must fulfill specified requirements before or during their enrollment.


In education, an agreement between schools that enables students who attend one school to attend class and use resources at another school.

Cooperative (Co-op) Education

A program in which a student combines employment and study in a career field.

Core Classes

Classes that all students in a major program or college are required to take.


A required class or lab taken with a related course.

Correspondence Course

A class in which students receive lessons in the mail and send completed assignments to instructors. Correspondence is an example of distance education. See Distance Education and Independent Study.


Another name for "class."

Course Evaluation

A survey given to students, usually at the end of a semester. Students give their opinions about the instructor and the course.

Course Number

Numbers assigned to courses to show their level of difficulty or depth/ breadth of study. For example, a 100-level course is less difficult or narrower in scope than a 200-level course.


How schools measure a student's progress toward a diploma or degree. The number of credits assigned to a course depends, in part, on how much time is spent in class each week. For example, most courses offered by colleges on semester calendars are worth three credits. Credits are also referred to as "credit hours" or simply, "hours."

Credits for Prior Learning

These are college credits received for subject matter or skills mastered by a student. They may include tech prep articulated high school courses, advanced placement examinations, credit for service schools and other noncollegiate-sponsored instruction, credit by nationally standardization examinations and credit by departmental assessment.


The available courses in a program of study at a specific college.



The highest officer of a division, college or school, such as Dean of the School of Education. Deans usually report directly to a provost, chancellor or the president of a college.

Declare a Major

Officially enter a college major or area of study. See Major.

Deferred Admission

A college may accept a student but then allow the student to delay coming to the college for one year.

Deficiency Points

These indicate unsatisfactory class work. Students with these can be put on academic probation or dismissed from school.


After finishing a program of study at a college, students receive an academic recognition. For example, a Bachelor of Arts degree from the City University of New York.


An area of study in a larger college or school. Professors specialize in an area of study and teach for that area's department. For example, French may be a department in the School of Arts and Sciences.


An official document awarded by colleges and high schools to students when they complete required courses of study.


A field of study. See Major.


Students can be dismissed or expelled for consistently poor grades or breaking rules.

Distance Education

Classes taught over satellite or local television, by video tape or CD ROM, through the Internet and by correspondence. Some may be regularly scheduled; others may be taken when most convenient for the student's schedule.

Distribution Requirements

See General Education Requirements.


The highest university degree, also called a doctor of philosophy (Ph.D.). Physicians usually receive a doctorate of medicine (M.D.), while lawyers receive a juris doctorate (J.D.).


See Residence Hall.

Double Major

Meeting requirements for two majors. See Major.

Dual or Concurrent Enrollment/ Dual Credit

Some colleges enroll high-achieving high school students in college courses that may fulfill both high school and college graduation requirements. Students must gain permission from the high school principal or guidance counselor and admission to a college. College students may also dual enroll in two degree programs or at two college institutions simultaneously.



An optional, instead of required class. Some electives fulfill general education requirements outside of a major.

Emeritus Faculty

Honored faculty members, usually retired from teaching.


To become a student at a university by registering for courses and paying tuition and fees. See Registration, Matriculate.


A course requirement that is fulfilled by passing an exam in the subject.

Expected Family Contribution (EFC)

Analysis on how much money a family can contribute toward education expenses.

Extracurricular Activities

Non-required activities that occur outside the classroom.



The teachers, professors and instructors who teach at schools.

Faculty Advisor

See Academic Advisor.


See Free Application for Federal Student Aid.

Federal Pell Grant

A federal financial aid grant program which is not paid back. Students apply by filling out the FAFSA.

Federal Perkins Student Loan

A low-interest loan for students who show financial need. It must be repaid after graduation. Students apply by filling out the FAFSA.

Federal PLUS (Parent Loans for Undergraduate Students) and/or Federal Direct PLUS

Financial aid to parents, processed through a bank, other lending agency, college or university to help pay for college. These loans must be repaid with interest. Repayment begins 60 days after the loan is issued to the parent(s).

Federal Subsidized Stafford Loan and Direct Ford Loan

Student financial aid processed through a bank and/or college. A student must be enrolled in a college degree program at least part time to receive a Stafford Loan. Loans must be paid back with interest after a student leaves college. Students apply by filling out a FAFSA.

Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (SEOG)

Federal grant for students with exceptional need. Students apply by filling out a FAFSA.

Federal Unsubsidized Stafford/Direct Unsubsidized Ford Loan

Similar to a subsidized Stafford Loan, except interest is paid by the student during college.


Money charged by a college for services provided to a student. Fees are often charged for lab materials, computer use and recreational facilities.

Fee Waiver

A written statement that says that the student does not have to pay a certain fee. Some scholarships give fee waivers for tuition.

Finals Week

Time at the end of the semester when classes do not meet and final tests are given.

Financial Assistance

Federal, state, college and private programs that help students pay for college costs. Financial aid may come in the form of grants, scholarships, loans or work-study programs.

Financial Assistance Counselor

A college staff member who helps students and parents fill out financial aid forms and processes financial aid money.

Financial Need

Difference between the cost of attending college and the Expected Family Contribution. A student's (or family's) financial need determines how much financial aid will be awarded.

Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)

The required application for federal, state and institutional financial aid. Indiana students must file the FAFSA between January 1 and March 10 of the year the student plans to attend college to meet the priority deadline.

Full-time Student

A student who carries a minimum number of credits or hours to be considered "full-time" by a college. The number of credits considered to be a full-time load varies. Schools on a semester calendar often require at least 12-hours for full-time status. See Calendar, Part-time Student.


General Education Requirements

The broad-based body of classes colleges expect their students to take.

Gift Aid

Financial aid that is not repaid, such as grants and scholarships.

Grade Point Average (GPA)

A system for evaluating the overall scholastic performance of students. Grades are often measured on a four-point scale in which an "A" equals four points and a "B" equals three points, etc. These are called grade points. Total points are found by multiplying the number of credits for a course by the student's grade point. A student's GPA is found by dividing the sum of grade points by the number of course credits.


A person who receives a certificate, degree or diploma from a school.

Graduate Assistant (GA)

A GA helps a professor with research or works for an academic department. GAs usually receive a salary and reduced tuition. See Teaching Assistant.

Graduate Record Examination (GRE)

A test often used to determine eligibility for graduate school (administered by the Educational Testing Service).

Graduate Student

A student who has earned a bachelor's degree and is working on an advanced degree such as a master's or doctorate.

Graduation Compact

An agreement between a student and a college or university. This agreement (sometimes called "Grad Pact") states that if a student meets certain guidelines, he/ she will be able to graduate within four years, or the college will pay for the remaining education. Not all schools offer this agreement.


Financial aid based on student need; it is not repaid.

Greek Organizations

Student organizations named by Greek letters. These organizations may be academic, social or charitable. Members of social Greek organizations (such as fraternities and sororities) frequently live together in a "Greek House."

Guaranteed Student Loan (GSL)

See Federal Stafford Loan.


Higher Education

See Postsecondary Education.


Organizations to which students are nominated for membership based on high grades, outstanding school service or both.


Living arrangements for students at colleges or private secondary schools.


Identification Card (ID)

Card issued to identify a student. IDs are often required for meal plans, borrowing library books or for admission to college-sponsored activities.

Independent College

A college or other school that is supported with private money, but not supported financially by the state. Some independent colleges have a religious affiliation or are single-gender schools.

Independent Study

Studying a subject for credit without regular classroom instruction. This may refer to on-campus courses that you take independently, or through distance education. See Distance Education, Correspondence Course.

Individualized Major

See Student-designed Major.

Informational Interview

A meeting with an experienced person to gain knowledge or understanding. This can be used to find out about a job or career, such as the training and responsibility involved.


In the education field, this is usually a school, college or university.


A nontenured teacher at a college. See Tenure.


Any competition or activity taking place between different colleges.


Programs or courses using knowledge from two or more academic areas. See Discipline.

Interest Inventory

An exercise or set of exercises used to identify possible areas of career interest.


Experience gained by students working at jobs on or off campus. Students get practical experience in their area of study.

Intramural Sports

Athletic activities between a school's students.


Job Shadowing

Time spent with someone who is at work. This time is used to better understand what people do in their job.

Junior College

See Community College


Liberal Arts

A school or course of study which focuses on developing students' general knowledge and reasoning ability instead of specific career training; the result is often considered to be a well-rounded, general education in the arts and sciences.


Financial aid that must be repaid, with interest, after a student leaves college.



A focused area of study. Students take many classes in their major, gain specialized knowledge and earn a degree in that area.

Master's Degree

An advanced college degree earned after a bachelor's degree, usually taking at least two years for a full-time student to complete.


To register or enroll in a college.


A person who gives advice, guidance and help.


An area of interest studied at the same time as a major. It is rarely in the same department as a major and requires fewer classes than a major.


National Achievement Scholarship Program for Outstanding Negro Students

A scholarship program for African-Americans, similar to the National Merit Scholarships and based on junior year PSAT scores. See National Merit Scholarships.

National Direct Student Loan (NDSL)

See Federal Perkins Student Loan.

National Merit Scholarships

Competitive scholarships limited in number and offered by the National Merit Scholarship Corporation. Winners are determined by PSAT scores and other criteria.

Need Analysis Form

A form, filled out by the student and/or family members, used to determine the amount of financial aid the student can receive. The FAFSA is the federal need analysis form. See Free Application for Federal Student Aid.


See National Merit Scholarships, Preliminary Scholastic Assessment Test/ National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT).

Nontransferable Degree

A degree, often an associate's, that cannot be counted as credit toward more education. See Transferable Degree.


Occupational Outlook

A prediction of future job openings in specific career fields.

Occupational Training

Education and training to prepare for a particular occupation.

Office Hours

In education, hours set aside by an instructor to meet with students.


In education, a person who acts on behalf of students and others in the college community who have difficulties with the college.

On-the-job Training

Training provided for employees while they are learning a job; the employee creates a product or provides a service while being trained.

Open Admission Policy (Open Door Policy)

Admission policy in which anyone with a high school diploma or its equivalent can take classes. See Rolling Admission, Selective Admission.


Programs to help new students and parents get to know a college. Orientation usually takes place before or at the beginning of the academic year.


Parent Loan

See Federal PLUS.

Part-time Student

A student enrolled in a number of course credits that is less than full time. Usually, this is less than 12 credits a semester.

Pell Grant

See Federal Pell Grant.


See Doctorate.


An effort to donate time and/or money to others. A philanthropic organization may donate money or service to organizations and individuals.


Test taken (often in sophomore year of high school) to prepare for the ACT. See ACT and Standardized Admissions Tests.


A file of materials created by a student that displays and explains skills, talents, experiences and knowledge gained throughout life. Portfolios are often used when applying for a job.

Postsecondary Education

Education after high school at a public, independent, technical, community or junior college or university.

Pre-admission Summer Program

College programs offered to freshmen before fall classes. Courses may be skill-building or regular college classes.

Preliminary Scholastic Assessment Test/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT)

A high school test that measures critical reading, writing and math skills and prepares students for the SAT I. It also determines eligibility for the National Merit Scholarship. See Scholastic Assessment Test.


Course sequences for undergraduate students to prepare for graduate work in the same area. Examples include prelaw and premedicine.


Beginning class (usually required) that prepares students for a more advanced class.

Private College

See Independent College.


Academic status of students whose GPA falls below a minimum level (this varies from school to school).


A teacher at a college (often tenured). See Tenure.

Profile Application

A supplemental application required by some colleges for school-based financial aid. This form must be completed and mailed to the College Board's College Scholarship Service. Some colleges require it earlier than the FAFSA.


Set of required courses for a degree in a major area of study.

Proprietary Schools

Colleges that operate as profit-making institutions. These colleges provide students with training in specific career fields.


A booklet of general information about a college or program.


A college's chief academic officer (sometimes called an academic dean). A provost often reports directly to the president of a college or university.


See Preliminary Scholastic Assessment Test/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT).

Public College

College or other school supported by the state; the state pays part of the school's operating costs.



A group of four residence halls or academic buildings.


A calendar used by some colleges. The quarter school year is broken down into four periods, each lasting 10 to 12 weeks.

Quiet Floor/Hours

Part of a residence hall or hours during the day where students are expected to maintain a low noise level.


Reading Days

Days between the end of classes and beginning of final exams to be used to prepare for final exams.


Person (or office) in a college who manages class schedules and academic records.


Officially enrolling in classes for the upcoming grading period.

Religious Affiliation

Private colleges associated with religious organizations.

Remedial Course

A course that teaches basic skills needed to succeed in college courses. These skills are often in the general areas of math, writing, reading, etc.


A set of conditions that must be met in order to do something, such as be accepted to a college, complete a degree, etc.

Residence Hall (Dormitory)

A campus building where students live. Food service, social and educational activities are provided. Some colleges require students to live in residence halls for a certain amount of time.

Residency Requirements

Most colleges require that students spend a certain amount of time on campus taking classes or living on campus.

This term can also mean the minimum amount of time a student must live in the state to pay in-state tuition, which (for public colleges) is lower than the tuition paid by out-of-state students.

Resident Assistant (RA)

A trained student who lives in a dormitory to coordinate programs and activities. RAs may also help students with problems in the dorm or counsel students about campus difficulties.

Rolling Admission

Schools with this admission practice accept applications throughout the year and decide whether or not to admit students as soon as they receive the required materials. See Open Admission, Selective Admission.

Room and Board

The cost for living in residence halls or other campus housing (room) and receiving meals from the housing food service (board).



See Scholastic Assessment Test I.

SAT II Subject Tests

See Subject Area Tests.

Satisfactory Academic Progress

Completion of courses according to school standards. Satisfactory academic progress must be shown to receive financial aid and continue in school.


An effort to provide all students high-level skills for the future and connect their education to the work world.


Financial aid awarded for academic and other achievements (music, athletics, etc.). Scholarships are gift aid and do not have to be paid back.

Scholastic Assessment Test I (SAT I)

A standardized admission test published by the College Board. Some colleges use SAT I to determine admission eligibility. See Standardized Admissions Tests.

Selective Admission Policy

An admission policy in which a college only admits students who meet certain requirements (sometimes referred to as Competitive Admission Policy). See: Open Admission, Rolling Admission.


Calendar system used by some schools. Classes and grade reports are divided into two periods, each lasting about 15 weeks.

Standardized Admissions Tests

These tests (such as ACT and SAT I) are designed to measure knowledge and skills and are used to predict achievement in college. The test score may be considered along with other factors for admission to the college.

Student Activities

See Extracurricular Activities.

Student Aid Report (SAR)

Summary of information that details a family's Expected Family Contribution (EFC) and financial aid eligibility. Families receive this after filling out a FAFSA.

Student Body

All students who attend a particular school.

Student Center or Student Union

A building on campus designed for a variety of uses by students. A bookstore, dining facilities, administrative offices, game rooms, etc. may be located here.

Student-designed Major

At some colleges, students can plan an individualized major. Such programs must be approved by appropriate college administrators.

Student Loan

See Federal Stafford Loan.

Study Abroad

Programs in which students go to college for some time in another country while making regular progress toward their diplomas or degrees.

Subject Area Tests

Standardized tests given by the American College Testing Program or College Board in specific high school subjects, such as biology, foreign languages, etc. Colleges look at these test scores when making decisions about course placement or admission to a specific program. Many programs do not require these tests.

Subsidized Loan

Loan based on financial need in which borrower does not pay all the interest. Usually, interest is not charged until repayment begins. See Unsubsidized Loan.

Support Services

Services provided by most colleges to help students in areas such as academics, veterans affairs, adult and special needs.


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


Teaching Assistant (TA)

A graduate student paid by the college to teach undergraduate classes. A TA may teach introductory classes, grade papers or lead discussion sessions and may also be called an Associate Instructor.

Technical College

Colleges that offer programs (usually two years or less for full-time students) that prepare students for immediate employment or transfer to a college or university offering bachelor's degrees. The emphasis at these colleges is usually on hands-on training in a specific career area. See Community College, Non-transferable degree, Transferable degree.


Guaranteed employment status given to teachers and professors after successful completion of certain requirements within a certain time period.


An occupation requiring skilled labor, such as an electrician or tool and die maker.


The official record of a student's educational progress; it may include listings of classes, grades, major area and degrees earned.

Transferable Degree

A degree, usually an associate's, that can be counted as credit toward more education, such as a bachelor's degree, at the same or different college.

Transfer Program

College program that prepares students to complete a degree at another college. Junior, community and technical colleges often have transfer programs to prepare students to continue their education at colleges and universities offering bachelor's degrees. Transfer programs often award associate's degrees.

Transfer Student

A student who changes from one school to another. Grades and credits from the first school may or may not be counted at the second. Schools may not accept all the credits earned at another school.


A calendar system used by some colleges that is made up of three 10-12 week periods.


The cost of classes or credits at a school.


Experienced adults or students who help others study a specific subject.

2 + 2 Program

A program offering an associate's degree that will transfer directly toward a bachelor's degree in the same field of study. These programs may be within the same college or between two colleges and may be known by other names.


Unconditional Admission

Students who meet all of a school's admission standards are given this status.


A college student working on a bachelor's or associate's degree or certificate.


A postsecondary institution that has several colleges or schools, grants undergraduate and graduate degrees, and may have research facilities. Universities are more comprehensive than colleges, although the two terms are often used interchangeably.

Unsubsidized Loan

Loan in which borrower is charged interest immediately. See Subsidized Loan.


Student who is a junior or senior but has not yet received an undergraduate degree.


Vocational College

A school that specializes in training for different professions and skilled trades. See Community College, Technical College, Proprietary School.


Waiting List

A list of students who will be admitted to a college only if there is space available. Students placed on a waiting list are usually notified if they are admitted, typically in May or June.


An exemption from normal procedures or requirements. For example, to receive a "class waiver" means not having to take a class. See Fee Wavier.


A form of financial aid in which students earn money by working part time at their college. Students apply for work-study by filling out the FAFSA. See Free Application for Federal Student Aid.