College Terms to Know

Thinking about going to college? Learning some basic college terms will help you feel right at home.

Academic Advisor - An academic advisor is a student's main point of contact for academic issues. An academic advisor can help a student decide which courses to take and learn how to register for classes. An academic advisor can also help a student move toward getting a degree.

Academic Standards - Academic standards are learning goals. Academic standards spell out what students should know when beginning a class or grade level and what are expected to learn upon completion of that class or grade level.

ACT and SAT - The ACT stands for The American College Test. This test helps tell if a high school student is ready to begin college classes.

The SAT originally stood for Scholastic Aptitude Test. The name was later changed to the Scholastic Assessment Test, then the SAT I: Reasoning Test, then the SAT Reasoning Test. Today, it is simply called the SAT. It is meant to help tell how well a high school student will perform in college.

Alumnus - An alumnus is what we call someone who is a graduate or former student of a particular school, college, or university. (Plural: alumni.)

Associate’s Degree - An associate’s degree is a two-year college degree. An associate’s degree represents a higher level of education than a high school diploma or GED, but not as high as a four-year college degree.

Bachelor’s Degree - A college or university awards a bachelor’s degree to a student who has completed undergraduate studies. Usually, a bachelor’s degree represents four years of full-time study in a particular college program.

Bursar - A bursar is a professional financial administrator in a college or university. The Office of the Bursar handles the billing of student tuition accounts and sets up payment plans. Bursars do not usually help students get financial aid.

College Readiness - College Readiness means a high school graduate is prepared and ready to begin attending college.

Career Readiness - Career Readiness means a college graduate has the skills, knowledge and abilities needed to begin a career complete with lifelong goals and objectives.

Collaboration - A collaboration is when two or more people work together to produce or create something.

College Major - A college major is a group of courses required by a college so that a student can receive a degree in a particular area, such as English or nursing. All students aiming to get a particular degree are required to take certain courses. Each student may also choose to take some additional courses outside of his or her college major. These additional courses are called elective courses.

Common Core State Standards (CCSS) - The Common Core State Standards (CCSS) is a set of academic standards for students in Kindergarten through 12th Grade. The CCSS were developed for two areas of study: mathematics and English Language Arts (ELA). These standards were intended to outline learning goals telling what a student should learn in these two areas of study by the end of each grade level.

Communication - This is when information is exchanged between people. Speaking, listening, print, signs and symbols are all methods of communication.

Curriculum - This term refers to the lessons and academic content taught in a school or in a specific course or program. It includes the standards being followed, the knowledge and skills students are expected to learn, the units and lessons being taught, the assignments and projects students are expected to complete. The curriculum also includes the teaching resources being used, such as books, videos, etc.

Department - An academic department is a division of a college or university that focuses on a particular academic area, such as engineering, science, mathematics, art or music.

Diversity - Diversity refers to a group of people representing differences such as skin color, national origin, income level, ages, and sexual orientation.

Doctorate - A doctorate is an advanced college degree that earns the student the title, or rank of a doctor.

Empower/Empowered - To be empowered is to feel strong and free to decide and act in ways that support self and others. To empower someone is to help them
feel empowered.

Extracurricular - Classes or school activities that are not required for graduation or to earn a degree are extra-curricular. These activities may include athletics or volunteer service.

FAFSA: Free Application for Federal Student Aid - The FAFSA is an online application for college financial aid available from the US Federal Government.

Financial Aid - This refers to any grant or scholarship, loan, or paid employment offered to help a student meet his/her college expenses. Financial aid is usually available from a variety of sources, including federal and state agencies, colleges, high schools, financial institutions, foundations, and corporations.

Major - A major is an academic subject or field of study a student chooses pursue. A major represents the student’s main interest. Most of the student’s school efforts are focused on completing classes within this major course of study.

Minor - A minor is an academic subject or field of study a student chooses to pursue. A student’s minor is secondary to his or her major. The usual requirement for a minor is a total of three years of study in that minor area. Often, a student’s chosen minor supports, or is somehow related to, the student’s major.

Master’s Degree - A master’s degree is an academic degree a student earns after receiving a bachelor’s degree. Usually, a master’s degree requires one or two additional years of study beyond the bachelor’s degree.

Matriculate - To matriculate means to be admitted into a group, especially a college or university.

Media - Media is a form of communication that reaches large numbers of people, such as television, newspapers, and radio.

Mentor - A mentor is an experienced and trusted adviser who can guide a student’s education and/or career path.

Enrolled - Enrolled means a student has reserved his or her college classes. When a student is enrolled in a class, his or her name has been added to the list of students expected to attend that class.

Registered - Registered means a student has paid at least the minimum amount due on his or her college registration bill and that the student has confirmed attendance.

Registrar - A registrar is someone responsible for keeping and maintaining student records at a college or university.

Role Model - A role model is a person whose behavior and life choices have led to personal and/or professional success. A student can look up to a role model; a student can follow and copy a role model’s beliefs and actions.

STEM Careers - STEM careers are careers related to four areas of study: science, technology, engineering and math.

Syllabus - A syllabus is an outline of the main points of an academic subject. It can also represent the contents of a class or curriculum.

Teamwork - Teamwork is a cooperative or coordinated effort by a group of people acting together in the interest of a common goal or cause.

Transcript - A transcript is an official school report that shows the record of an individual student. A transcript lists the student’s subjects, classes completed, grades received, etc.

Tuition - Tuition is the cost charged to attend a private or parochial school or a college or university.

Tutor - A tutor is a teacher who offers students extra help in understanding coursework so the students can to do well in a class. Tutors usually work with students outside of class time. A tutor usually instructs one student, or very small groups of students, at a time.

Undergraduate - An undergraduate is a student in a university or college who is working toward receiving an associate’s or bachelor’s degree.