College Admissions Glossary

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There are currently 189 terms in this directory

504 Plan
504 Plan An individualized plan that grants students with legally recognized disabilities accommodations that enable them to learn in a regular classroom setting (as opposed to a special education program). Only students who attend public schools or publicly funded private schools may have a 504 plan.


A.A. (Associate in Arts)
A.A. (Associate in Arts) A two-year degree program that is offered at many community colleges and some four-year colleges. It offers students a strong foundation in the humanities, social sciences, and writing. Because of the general nature of the degree, the credits students earn while completing their A.A. transfer well to four-year degree programs and many students who earn an A.A. decide to go on to obtain their B.A.

A.A.S. (Associate in Applied Science)
A.A.S. (Associate in Applied Science) A two-year degree program offered by many community colleges and some four-year colleges. It is designed for students who do not want to transfer to a four-year degree program and who want to enter the workforce directly after earning their A.A.S. Students will take classes in their field as soon as they start their degree program, and can choose from majors such as automotive technology, mechanical technology, and agricultural production.

Academic Advisor
Academic Advisor An individual who consults with students in order to help them plan a course of academic study that is best suited to their interests, goals, and needs. Students can talk to this individual about topics including which classes to take, concerns about their grades or academic performance, and research/enrichment opportunities.

Accelerated Study
Accelerated Study Special tracks designed for students who want to take less time than conventional programs to attain university credits, certificates, or degrees. Students cover the same curriculum as their four-year counterparts in a concentrated format. Many of these programs allow students to set their own study schedules and often cater to working adults. The programs may also offer credit for previous professional and life experiences of students.

Accommodations Alterations of environment, equipment, or curriculum format that allow students with disabilities to gain equal access to learning materials and opportunities. Examples of accommodations include verbal, visual, or technology aids; adjusted class schedule or grading; extended times on tests and assignments; and preferential seating.

ACT An entrance exam used by colleges and universities to evaluate students and help make admissions decisions. The ACT is offered 7 times per year and is broken into five sections English, Math, Reading, Science, and Writing (Optional). The ACT is scored out of a 36-point scale.

Admission Requirements
Admission Requirements Requirements set forth by post-secondary institutions that students must meet before gaining acceptance. Requirements often include the completion of certain high school courses, the completion of a certain number of credit hours in each subject, and standardized test scores that exceed a specified benchmark. Requirements vary by institution.

Admission Tests
Admission Tests Used by post-secondary educations programs to evaluate students for admission. The most common admission tests are the ACT and SAT. However, there are some lesser-known alternatives such as the Classic Learning Test (CLT), and some schools have gone altogether “Test Optional” and do not require admissions tests.

Admit To be offered a place as a student in a particular institution (to be allowed to matriculate a particular institution).

All-Men/Boys or All-Women/Girls School
All-Men/Boys or All-Women/Girls School – see “Single-sex Schools” An institution that only instructs people of one biological sex (an all-female school or an all-male school).

Alternative Admission
Alternative Admission A program that allows colleges and universities to admit students who do not meet admission requirements for a particular institution but demonstrate other qualities or proficiencies that make them good candidates for admission. Not all states offer alternative admission and for those that do, the requirements differ vastly. Criteria for alternate admission eligibility includes but is not limited to students who have not completed required high school coursework but who have scored within a certain percentile on their standardized tests, students with alternative proficiency-based diplomas, English language learners, students with special talents, minority students, or others who demonstrate special needs.

Alumni Individuals that have completed the requirements for an established program of study at a particular institution.

AP (Advanced Placement) Exams
AP (Advanced Placement) Exams Standardized exams designed to measure how well students have mastered the content of an Advanced Placement course. They are administered yearly in May and scored on a 5-point scale. The scores students receive often determine if these courses will grant a student transferable college credit at many institutions.

Applicant A student who has submitted an application to a post-secondary institution.

Application A package that students put together in order to be evaluated for acceptance to a post-secondary institution. Applications requirements vary by institution but may include essays, standardized test scores, resumes, and interviews.

Art School
Art School A post-secondary institution that specializes in instructing students on the fine arts, with a particular emphasis on the visual arts. Many larger institutions offer students the opportunity to major in art while also taking other courses, but art schools are unique in that they only offer programs of study related to the arts.

Art Supplement
Art Supplement A portfolio that showcases a student’s skills/accomplishments in the audio/visual/performing/literary arts. The supplement could include photos, audio recordings, video recordings, and writing samples. Not all colleges and universities accept art supplements, and for those that do, it is almost always optional.

Articulation Agreement
Articulation Agreement Formal agreements between two or more universities documenting policies regarding the transfer of credits for a specific academic program or degree from one university to another. These agreements are important for transfer students and students who are studying abroad for the semester to take into consideration.

Audit To enroll in a course but not receive credit or a grade for enrollment. Students who audit a course still have to pay for the course but are not obligated to turn in assignments, participate in assessments, or attend class. They do not receive grades or credit for their participation.

Audition Students applying to musical conservatories or theater programs may have to do an online or in-person audition as part of their application showcasing their abilities.


B.A. (Bachelor of Arts)
B.A. (Bachelor of Arts) A four-year liberal arts undergraduate degree program focused on the humanities. Usually, Bachelor of Arts degrees allow student to study a broader range of topics over the course of their studies than a Bachelor of Science.

B.S. (Bachelor of Science)
B.S. (Bachelor of Science) A four-year undergraduate degree program focused on technical fields relating to math and science. They are usually more specialized than a Bachelor of Arts and might require unique coursework such as labs.

Bands (recruitment)
Bands (recruitment) Marching band recruitment isn’t like typical athletic scholarships – students have to be accepted and enrolled in an institution before they can be eligible to be recruited for the band or to receive a scholarship for their participation. It is exceedingly rare to be contacted by a marching band while still in high school, and scholarships for marching band participation are not common.

Best Buys
Best Buys Colleges that offer outstanding education value determined by academic quality in relation to net cost of attendance.

Best Fit
Best Fit A post-secondary institution that best satisfies a student’s requirements when taking into consideration their academic preferences, social preferences, financial needs, and career goals.

Block Plan
Block Plan Allows students to take one course at a time for a shortened term lasting between four and six weeks. These plans typically cater to small class sizes and sometimes include off-campus experiences such as trips and excursions.

Branch Campus
Branch Campus – see “Regional Campus” A smaller, satellite campus that is in a different location than the main campus of a college or university. The satellite campus may offer the same, or slightly different courses of study and opportunities.

Business School
Business School A school within a college or university that confers degrees in business administration or management.


Campus Visit/Tour
Campus Visit/Tour An opportunity for prospective applicants or admitted students to see the buildings and layout of a particular institution including the classrooms, library, dorms, and dining hall. Campus visits are usually done in-person and offered throughout the spring and fall, but can be facilitated virtually.

Candidates Reply Date Agreement (CRDA)
Candidates Reply Date Agreement (CRDA) An agreement that many colleges follow which gives applicants until May 1 to accept or decline the offer of admission to their institution. The agreement is supposed to give students the opportunity to hear from most of the institutions they applied to before making a decision.

Capstone Project
Capstone Project An opportunity to carry out independent group research in order to devise an innovative solution to a real-world problem. Many high schoolers are able to complete capstone projects through the both the AP and IB curriculum. At many universities, students also have the opportunity to complete capstone projects through advanced level seminars and research classes.

Catalogue A listing of all the courses an institution is offering a particular semester.

Certificates Allow students to obtain expertise in a field without investing the time needed to earn a college degree. Note Students who choose to earn a four-year or two-year degree may also earn certificates in conjunction with this degree. Many choose to do this in lieu of a minor.

Class Rank
Class Rank A ranking of all of the students in an institution based on their grade point averages. Many institutions have stopped publishing class rank in recent years.

Clery Act
Clery Act An act that requires colleges and universities to report campus crime data, support victims of violence, and publicly outline and publicize the policies and procedures they have put in place to improve campus safety.

College A post-secondary institution designed to instruct students in many different branches of advanced learning and to confer degrees. Typically smaller than universities, colleges place an emphasis on undergraduate programs and courses of study instead of graduate programs.

College Application Essay
College Application Essay A component of a college application package that highlights students’ writing abilities and capacity to organize their thoughts logically. Usually students will write one main essay that they submit to each institution they apply to in addition to several supplemental essays, as required.

College Credit
College Credit One college credit represents one hour in the classroom and two hours spent on homework each week. Most college classes are three credits.

College Fair
College Fair An event that many high schools host in the fall during which representatives from different post-secondary institutions come and talk to prospective students about their programs. Students can usually walk and around and choose which schools they visit with.

College Rep Visit
College Rep Visit Similar in concept to a college fair except that only one institution is represented during the visit. Usually the institution’s representative will spend the day in the high school’s career center. They will give a presentation to interested students, and typically students can also schedule times to go and speak with them individually.

College Search
College Search The process of looking for a post-secondary institution that aligns with your academic goals, financial needs, and desired career path.

Colleges That Change Lives (CTCL)
Colleges That Change Lives (CTCL) A nonprofit organization dedicated to the advancement and support of a student-centered college search process. CTCL releases print materials and has launched numerous outreach efforts regarding higher education access and college choice. Their website features college profiles of CTLC schools and an extensive advice section.

Common Application
Common Application A single online college application used by over 900 colleges and universities. The application helps students save time because they don’t have to enter all of their personal information, extracurriculars, letters of recommendation ect. multiple times. It is due January 1st.

Community College
Community College A non-residential post-secondary institution that provides affordable instruction to those living in a particular area. Many community colleges offer 2-year degrees with the option to transfer to a 4-year institution upon completion of the program.

Commuter School
Commuter School A post-secondary institution at which the majority of students do not live on campus and instead commute in each day from surrounding areas.

Consortium A coalition of two or more schools who share resources and often allow students to enroll and take classes for credit at all participating consortium institutions. Consortium schools are usually geographically close to one another, for example, the Atlanta University Center Consortium.

Cooperative Education (Co-op)
Cooperative Education (Co-op) A structured method of combining classroom-based education with practical work experience. Participating institutions offer students college credit for the successful completion of temporary practical work experiences, usually lasting for approximately the same length as a college term.

Core Curriculum
Core Curriculum Required “basic” classes that all students from a particular institution must take regardless of their major or degree track. Usually, they include at least one course each in mathematics, arts, science, and history.

Course Load
Course Load How many courses and credit hours a student is taking in a particular semester.

Course Number
Course Number Assigned to each course in a university catalogue. The higher a course number is, the greater degree of difficulty assigned to the course.

Course Term
Course Term A date range within the academic year during which courses are scheduled to occur. Most, but not all, institutions have two terms per year.

Credit (or semester) Hour
Credit (or semester) Hour One hour of in class instruction and two hours of work outside of class per week. Most college courses are three credit hours.

Cross-registration A system which allows students at a particular post-secondary institution to take individual courses for credit at another institution.

CSS Profile (College Board)
CSS Profile (College Board) An online application used by colleges and scholarship programs to award non-federal institutional aid. Most students complete the application their senior year of high school. It opens October 1, and different schools have different deadlines for submitting the profile.


Deadline A date by which something is due to be submitted. Most college application deadlines are in the fall.

Deferred Admission
Deferred Admission When an institution opts to make a decision regarding a student’s admission at a later date. Students who are neither accepted nor rejected when applying early action to schools are deferred and will find out about the status of their application during the next round of admissions decisions.

Deferred Enrollment
Deferred Enrollment When an admitted student chooses to wait a year before starting a course of study at a particular institution. Students must apply to do this after they have been accepted, and their application may either be rejected or accepted by the school.

Demonstrated Interest
Demonstrated Interest When a student attends online or in-person events hosted by a particular institution, visits campus, sets up an alumni interview, or schedules a time to talk with a representative. Many institutions track demonstrated interest to gauge how likely a student is to attend and can use it to factor into admissions decisions.

Denial When a student’s application for acceptance into a particular institution is rejected.

DI/DII/DIII (NCAA) The different division levels in college sports. Divisions are based on the size of the institution, the level of competition, and the funding of the athletic program. DI is the most competitive, and DIII is the least competitive.

Dorm/Dormitory Where residential college and university students live. Many students live in dormitories their freshman and sophomore year and then live off campus their junior and senior year.

Double Major
Double Major A student can obtain a double major by completing two sets of degree specialization requirements simultaneously.

Dual Degree Programs
Dual Degree Programs Allows a student to enroll in two separate degree programs simultaneously and complete them both in a shorter amount of time. The main difference between a dual degree and a double major is that students who complete a dual degree earn two distinct degrees in different fields of study whereas students who complete a double major earn one degree with two distinct concentrations.

Dual Enrollment
Dual Enrollment A program offered by many high schools and community colleges that enables high school students to take college courses and earn college credits while still being enrolled in high school.


Early Action (EA)
Early Action (EA) A program which allows students to apply to a school early and receive a decision well in advance of the institution’s regular decision date. Students do not have to enroll in the university if they are accepted through early action.

Early Admission
Early Admission Students who submitted an early action or early decision application and gained acceptance well before an institution’s regular decision deadline.

Early Decision (ED)
Early Decision (ED) A program which allows students to apply to a school early and receive their decision in advance of other students. However, if students are admitted through early decision, they will be bound to enrolling and must withdraw applications to all other institutions.

Early Decision I and II
Early Decision I and II – see “Early Decision” Early decision I has an earlier application and decision date than early decision II. For schools that offer early decision I, students usually hear back around December 15. For early decision II, this date is usually around January 15. Some schools offer both programs.

EFC (Expected Family Contribution)
EFC (Expected Family Contribution) An index number used to determine a student’s eligibility for financial aid resulting from the information a student input into their FAFSA. Higher EFCs are correlated with less aid and lower EFCs are correlated with more aid.

Endowment Money
Endowment Money and other financial assets that are donated to academic institutions. Endowments are usually invested - part of the investment income is used for the institutions’ operations and the rest is reinvested.

Engineering School
Engineering School An institution that is accredited to give students a baccalaureate degree in engineering. Many, but not all, colleges and universities offer specialized engineering programs for undergraduate students.

Enrollment The total number of students who are actively taking classes at a particular institution.

Evaluative Interview
Evaluative Interview An interview with a student, alumni member, or representative that is designed to help an institution further assess the student as a potential candidate for acceptance.

Experiential Learning
Experiential Learning The process of learning by doing. For example, instead of listening to lectures, students get to participate in activities and apply their learning to real-life situations.

Extracurriculars Activities that
Extracurriculars Activities that students participate in outside of the classroom. Examples include clubs, sports teams, part-time jobs, and cultural activities.


FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid)
FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) The official form to apply for federal financial aid to pay for college. The FAFSA is due on June 30, three months before the start of the fall semester a student plans to start attending college.

Far-reach School
Far-reach School A school that a student does not have an extremely high chance of being accepted into based on their standardized test scores, academic background, and other application materials.

FERPA (Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act)
FERPA (Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act) A Federal law that protects the privacy of student education records. FERPA gives students’ parents certain rights with respect to their children’s educational records including the right to inspect, review, and request corrections to be made to records they believe are misleading. These rights transfer from parents to students when a student turns 18.

Financial Aid
Financial Aid Funding coming from both public and private sources that assists students in meeting the cost of attendance of post-secondary institutions.

First-generation Student
First-generation Student A student whose parents did not complete a 4-year college or university degree.

First-year Student
First-year Student A student who is in their first year of instruction at a particular institution (also known as freshmen).

For-profit school
For-profit school Privately-operated institutions whose aim is to make money. They are controlled by investors, not educators. Recently, for-profit schools have been criticized for having poor career outcomes for students.

Free Appropriate Public
Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) A regulation stating that students with disabilities have a legal right to a free appropriate public education.

Freshmen Seminar
Freshmen Seminar see “Seminar” a small-group, discussion, and research-based course open to freshmen only.


Gap Year
Gap Year A year between the completion of high school and enrollment at a post-secondary institution that some students opt to take in order to travel or work. Many students who take a gap year are first admitted to an institution and then choose to defer their admission by a year versus waiting a year to apply.

General Education Requirements
General Education Requirements The first part of a degree that students have to complete before moving onto to courses in their area of specialization. Requirements usually include subjects such as literature, history, philosophy, math, and science.

General Studies
General Studies A degree offered at the BA and AS level that focuses on subjects from a wide breadth of disciplines and prepares students for careers across many different industries. It is a good fit for students who don’t want to narrow their academic or professional focus yet.

Grade Point Average
Grade Point Average (GPA) A number that represents the average value of accumulated final grades earned in courses over time. Unweighted GPA is usually calculated out of a 4.0 scale. The higher a student’s GPA is, the better their performance has been.

Graduate Degrees
Graduate Degrees An advanced academic degree in a specialized field of study that usually takes between one to two years to finish and is done after prior completion of a BA or BS. Master’s degrees are offered in many different fields and subjects including in business, public health, and education.

Graduate School
Graduate School An institution that awards postgraduate degrees. Students may not enroll in graduate school until after they have completed their bachelor’s degree.

Graduation Rates
Graduation Rates The percentage of students that earn a degree from a post-secondary institution within the number of years that their degree program is supposed to take.

Greek Life
Greek Life Participation in fraternities and sororities.


HACU (Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities)
HACU (Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities) A network that represents more than 500 colleges and universities committed to Hispanic higher education success in the U.S., Puerto Rico, Latin America, Spain and U.S. school districts.

Hillel The largest Jewish campus organization in the world.

Historically Black College/University (HBC, HBU, HBCU)
Historically Black College/University (HBC, HBU, HBCU) A college or university that was originally founded to educate students of African American descent.

Holistic Review
Holistic Review Considering the “whole” applicant by balancing a review of things like extracurriculars, jobs, family background, and high school experience with academic performance, grades, and test scores.

Honors Classes
Honors Classes Classes that go more in-depth on subjects and move at a faster pace. They are also typically weighted more when calculating a student’s GPA.

Honors College/Program
Honors College/Program An intensified academic program for top students at public universities which provide accelerated/ enriched general education courses. These programs often have selective criteria for admission and require the completion of an honors thesis.


In-state Tuition/In-state Student
In-state Tuition/In-state Student The amount of tuition that students pay to attend a public university in the state of their permanent residence (prior to attending college). This rate is usually much lower than students who attend private institutions and public institutions not in their state of residence.

Independent Study
Independent Study Allows students to independently learn about a subject that is unavailable in their school’s curriculum. College credit can be offered for independent study on a case-by-case basis.

Individualized Education Plan (IEP)
Individualized Education Plan (IEP) A plan developed through collaboration between a student, their parents, and school staff that ensures that a child with an identified disability who is attending an elementary or secondary institution receives specialized instruction and related services.

Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)
Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) A law that ensures a free and appropriate public education is available to eligible children with disabilities throughout the nation and that special education and related services are provided to those children. The four main goals are ensuring equality of opportunity, full participation, independent living, and economic self-sufficiency.

Informational Interview
Informational Interview An informal question and answer session where students have the opportunity to network with a student, representative, or alumni of a particular institution.

Interdisciplinary Relating to more than one field of study. An interdisciplinary class focuses on a topic that spans more than one area of specialization.

Internship A temporary position in a business, non-profit, or other institution that offers students the opportunity to learn about operations and professional skills for a set period of time. Internship applications can be competitive and in some fields, junior year summer internships can lead to full-time offers.


Jan Plan
Jan Plan An exploratory term in January that gives students the opportunity to choose an academic experience to pursue that they might not get to during the regular academic year.


Learning Disabilities/Differences (LDs)
Learning Disabilities/Differences (LDs) Disorders that affect students’ ability to understand or use spoken or written language, do mathematical calculations, coordinate movements, or direct attention.

Legacy Applicant
Legacy Applicant An applicant to an institution who had a close family member, most often a parent, attend the same institution. At many schools, legacy students are given special consideration in the application process.

Letter of Recommendation
Letter of Recommendation – see “Recommendation” A letter written by a student’s teacher, advisor, coach, or mentor figure as part of their application package to an institution. Some institutions require these letters while others do not. The letters are usually one page long and detail the positive qualities and qualifications a student possesses that would make them a good candidate for admission.

Liberal Arts College
Liberal Arts College Colleges with a curriculum centered on the humanities, arts, social sciences, and natural sciences. Often these colleges also have small class sizes.

Likely School
Likely School A school that a student had a probable/likely chance of being accepted into based on their standardized test scores, academic background, and other application materials.

Living-Learning Communities
Living-Learning Communities Residential programs where groups of students with common academic, research, or lifestyle interests can live together and participate in shared courses, special events, service projects, or other special programming as a group.


Major The subject that is the main focus of a student’s degree.

Match school
Match school see “Target School” An institution that is an applicant can realistically be accepted into based on their standardized test scores, academic background, and other application materials.

Matriculation The formal process of entering into a university for a degree.

Merit-based Aid
Merit-based Aid Scholarships that students receive based on their academic and extracurricular accomplishments. This aid is in no way linked to financial need.

Minor A secondary area of specialization in addition to a major that requires less coursework and requirements.

Music School/Conservatory
Music School/Conservatory An institution that specializes in the study, training, and research of musical performance and composition.


NAIA Smaller than the NCAA, the NAIA is a governing body of small athletics programs that are dedicated to character-driven intercollegiate athletics. The NAIA places an emphasis on the balance between sports and the overall college educational experience. More than 250 colleges participate, and the organization offers more than $600 million in scholarships.

NCAA The National Collegiate Athletic Association is a member-led organization dedicated to the well-being and lifelong success of the college athlete.

Need-aware Admission
Need-aware Admission Institutions that take into consideration an applicant’s financial need when making admissions decisions. Note These schools have the ability to fully meet the financial needs of all accepted students.

Need-based Aid
Need-based Aid Financial aid given to students on the basis of their demonstrated financial need, usually calculated by the results of their FAFSA.

Need-blind Admission
Need-blind Admission Institutions that do not consider an applicant’s financial need when making admissions decisions. Note These schools may not be able to meet an applicant’s full financial need with their financial aid packages.

Nonprofit schools
Nonprofit schools Schools that reinvest their profits back into the institution. All public universities are nonprofits.

Notification Date
Notification Date The date that students find out if they were admitted to a particular institution.


Open Admission
Open Admission A type of college admissions process where the only criterion for entrance is a high school diploma or GED. Typically, community colleges and select online programs are the only institutions that offer this type of admission.

Out-of-state Tuition/Out-of-state Student
Out-of-state Tuition/Out-of-state Student A student attending a public university outside of their state of residence (prior to college) must pay a slightly higher tuition rate that in-state students.

Overnights The chance for prospective students to spend the night in a dorm and get a taste of what real campus life is like. The events are usually organized by institutions in the spring when students are making acceptance decisions.


Phi Beta Kappa
Phi Beta Kappa America’s most prestigious honors society for the arts and sciences. Students are accepted based on their academic record and membership is invitation only.

Placement Tests
Placement Tests Some students may need to take placement tests in subjects including English, math, science, and foreign language after they have been accepted into a particular institution before registering for classes in order to know what level of class to sign up for.

PLAN Test A preliminary ACT test that was generally administered in students’ sophomore year, however, it was discontinued in 2014.

Portfolio A collection of work in an area of talent/interest students have pursued including art, music, fashion, or literature. Students applying to programs in art, music, design, fashion, architecture, or drama may be required to submit a portfolio as part of their application. Other students may have the also option to even if they aren’t applying to one of these areas although guidelines differ by school.

Pre-professional A specialized track in an undergraduate program that prepares students for a professional degree after their bachelor’s such as pre-med and pre-law.

Prerequisites A course (or courses) that must be successfully completed before enrolling in subsequent, higher-level course.

Priority Date or Deadline
Priority Date or Deadline Applications that are submitted before this deadline will receive priority by the admissions team. Depending on the school, students will either have a higher chance of being accepted or will hear back about their status sooner. Priority deadlines for colleges are usually in the fall.

Private College/University
Private College/University A college or university that operates as an educational nonprofit organization and does not receive its primary funding from a state government.

Probable School
Probable School see “Safety School” A school that a student is very likely to be accepted into based on their standardized test scores, academic background, and other application materials.

Prospective Student
Prospective Student A student who is considering attending a particular institution.

PSAT Test A standardized test that 11th graders and some 10th graders take in October that measures knowledge and skills in reading, writing, and math. It is designed to give students a taste of what the SAT is like and can be used to predict a student’s anticipated SAT score.

Public College/University
Public College/University A university or college that is in state ownership or receives significant public funds. Public colleges and universities are generally larger than private schools and have larger class sizes.


Reach School
Reach School A school that student has a chance of getting into but is less likely to gain acceptance to than their safety or target schools based on their standardized test scores, academic background, and other application materials.

Recruited Athlete
Recruited Athlete An athlete who has been given an offer of acceptance to a post-secondary institution with the contingency that they will play for that institution’s sports team.

Regional Campus
Regional Campus A smaller, satellite campus that is in a different location than the main campus of a college or university. The satellite campus may offer the same, or slightly different courses of study and opportunities.

Religion-based/religious School
Religion-based/religious School A school that incorporates religious ideals and doctrine into the overall mission of the institution.

Research Many colleges and universities will offer students the opportunity to conduct in-depth/hands-on investigations into specialized topics as part of their coursework or program of study. Many students choose to assist or partner with professors to conduct research projects.

Residence Halls
Residence Halls Campus housing provided to students as part of their room and board payments.

Residency Requirement
Residency Requirement The amount of time a student must live in a state to be eligible for in-state tuition rates. This requirement differs by state.

Restrictive Early Action
Restrictive Early Action – see “Early Action” Students who are accepted to an institution through a restrictive early action program must accept their place at that institution. They are required to withdraw applications from all other schools they may have applied to.

Returning Freshmen
Returning Freshmen Freshman who return for a second year at a particular institution. The return rate is also referred to as the freshmen retention rate and is correlated with how content first year students are at a particular school.

Rituals/Traditions Many post-secondary institutions have social rituals/traditions that students participate in each year that are often linked to superstition. Examples include first year students drinking out of the old well at University of North Carolina to ensure good grades for the semester, and students avoiding stepping on Georgetown University’s seal in order to guarantee on-time graduation.

Rolling Admission
Rolling Admission Students are notified of acceptance decisions as soon as their application is reviewed instead of all together on a single date.

ROTC (Reserve Officers' Training Corps)
ROTC (Reserve Officers' Training Corps) Offered at more than 1,000 colleges and universities, the ROTC program pays for 100% of a student’s tuition and supplemental support for books and cost of living. Upon graduation, students must serve between two and four years in the Army, starting as a second lieutenant.


Safety school
Safety school A school that a student has an extremely high chance of being accepted into based on their standardized test scores, academic background, and other application materials.

SAR (Student Aid Report)
SAR (Student Aid Report) A document that summarizes the information a student reported on their FAFSA. It includes a student’s Expected Family Contribution (EFC), estimated eligibility for federal student loans and Federal Pell Grants, and whether student’s have been selected for verification.

SAT A test of students’ academic skills which is used as a factor in admission by many post-secondary institutions. There are three sections on the SAT reading, writing, and math.

SAT Subject Tests
SAT Subject Tests These tests were multiple-choice standardized tests given by the College Board on individual subjects, but they were discontinued in 2021.

School Profile
School Profile A document put together by a student’s high school that includes information about the student body and the types of classes offered by the school such as AP, IB, etc. It usually lists figures like graduation rate and other notable facts about the school, though each one is different. It is sometimes included with a student’s application to college, although it is seldom required.

Score Range
Score Range Helps determine what schools should be a student’s safety school, target school, and reach school. Many schools publish what the middle 50% of their previous incoming freshmen class received on their SAT or ACT. Students can compare this score range to their own to help judge their likelihood of acceptance.

Selectivity An assessment of how competitive it is to get into a particular institution, correlated with acceptance rate and the quality of applications. Schools with a higher selectivity have a lower acceptance rate and extremely qualified applicants.

Semester – see “Course Term” A half year term at a post-secondary institution that typically last between 15 and 18 weeks. Usually, there are two semesters per year one in the spring and one in the fall.

Seminar Small, discussion and research-based courses at post-secondary institutions.

Single-Choice Early Action
Single-Choice Early Action – see “Early Action ” The same as regular early action except it stipulates that a student can only apply early to one institution.

Single-sex School
Single-sex School An institution that only instructs people of one biological sex (an all-female school or an all-male school).

Sophomore Standing
Sophomore Standing A certain number of completed credit hours give students this designation. They could be freshmen who have come in with AP credit and are ahead in their program of study, or juniors who are behind in their program of study and need to catch up in order to be able to graduate.

Student Retention
Student Retention How many students complete a course of study at a particular institution without dropping out or transferring.

Student Right to Know (SRTK)
Student Right to Know (SRTK) Amends the Higher Education Act of 1965 (HEA) to require all institutions of higher education participating in any program under HEA title IV (Student Assistance) to disclose the completion or graduation rate of certificate- or degree-seeking, full-time students entering those institutions. 

Student-Faculty Ratio
Student-Faculty Ratio How many students attend each institution compared to how many faculty teach there.

Study Abroad
Study Abroad A period of time (usually between a semester and an academic year) that a student spends studying at a post-secondary institution in another country.

Summer Term
Summer Term The period of time between the end of the spring semester and the beginning of the fall semester in which students can take summer classes.

Supplemental Essays
Supplemental Essays Essays submitted as part of an application package that are specific to a certain institution to which the student is applying. They often center around why a student wants to attend a particular institution, but they can also ask students to address more creative topics.


Target School
Target School A school which a student has a relatively fair chance of being accepted into based on their standardized test scores, academic background, and other application materials. It is not a reach, but also not a guarantee.

Technical School
Technical School Institutions that prepare students for a specific trade or career. The length of their programs of study ranges from less than two years to four years.

Title IX
Title IX An act that protects people from discrimination based on sex in education programs or activities that receive federal financial assistance.

TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language)
TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) An English language examination which is often taken by foreign students who want to study at universities in English-speaking countries.

Transcript An official document from the registrar stating a student’s name, the institution at which they studied, a list of all the courses they took, and all the degrees they received.

Transfer Student
Transfer Student A student who decides to switch from one post-secondary institution to the another at any point in their undergraduate or graduate education.

Trimester – see “Course Term” Instead of having the academic year be split into two semesters, some schools such as Carleton College and Union college have three academic terms called trimesters. Students take different courses each trimester.

Tuition The amount of money students must pay to attend classes at a particular institution.


UCAS The University and Colleges Admissions Service is a nonprofit that runs the application process for British universities. Similar to the Common Application, the UCAS requires a personal statement, a written recommendation, and details about a student’s academic/personal/professional history.

Undergraduate A student who has not yet earned a bachelor’s degree.

Universal College Application
Universal College Application Similar to the common app, the UCA was created to allow students to apply to more than one college with the same application. Much newer than the Common Application, it is currently accepted by approximately 20 colleges. It opens one month earlier than the Common Application, does not require a personal essay, and has several unique interface details.

University A post-secondary institution designed to instruct students in many different branches of advanced learning and to confer degrees. Universities typically offer both graduate and undergraduate programs of study while colleges typically offer only undergraduate instruction.


Virtual Tour
Virtual Tour Offered by colleges to students who can’t tour the campus in person so they can get a sense of the school, its buildings, and its general layout.

Vocational School
Vocational School Post-secondary institutions that focus on teaching trades. The length of the program typically varies between 6 months and 2 years.


Waiting List
Waiting List A list for students who have not yet been accepted into the university but who are next in line to gain admission if spaces become available.

Weighted Grade Point
Weighted Grade Point Average (GPA) A GPA that is calculated taking into account extra points for honors and AP classes.

Work Study
Work Study Part-time jobs offered by universities to undergraduate and graduate students with demonstrated financial need designed to help them earn an income while they are pursuing their studies.


Yield The percentage of students who choose to enroll at a school out of the number of students that are accepted.


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