Outreach Toolkit: Learn Some College Lingo

There is a lot to know before heading off to college, including understanding all the terms you’ll hear between now and then. Is a college the same as a university? Can you study liberal arts even if you don’t go to a liberal arts college? And what is a liberal arts college anyway? Learn some college lingo now.

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Co-curricular
College vs. University
Co-requisite
Credit Hour
 

Early Admission
Early Decision

FAFSA

Liberal Arts

Major
Minor

Private University
Public University

Quarter System

Registrar
Retention Rate
Rolling Admissions

Semester System
Student Aid Report (SAR)

Transcript
Trimester System

Undergraduate

Wait List
Work-Study



 Co-curricular
A co-curricular is any activity that is not required to receive a degree. For example, participation in the Spanish Club or on an intramural team is a co-curricular.

College vs. University
A college offers an array of degrees in one specific area, such as business. A university is made up of several colleges that all focus on different core areas. Universities are generally larger and may have more name recognition than colleges.

Co-requisite
A course that must be taken during the same semester as another companion class.

Credit Hour
Generally speaking, this indicates one hour of class time per week (i.e., if a student takes a three-hour course, he or she will be in the classroom for roughly three hours each week for that course).

Early Admission
Exceptional high school students may be able to start college after the end of junior year through a college or university’s early admission program.

Early Decision
This means a student can apply early in the fall and find out if you’re accepted long before those who wait until the traditional acceptance deadline. However, if a student applies for early decision and is accepted, he/she must attend.

FAFSA
The Free Application for Federal Student Aid form is used to apply for financial aid at most institutions. It must be submitted every year after January 1.

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Liberal Arts
For an education that includes a wide swath of general knowledge, look toward the liberal arts where a student will learn critical thinking rather than a specific career skill. Liberal arts include the humanities, natural sciences and social sciences.

Major
A major is an area of concentration in a particular field of study. Usually students choose a major by the end of sophomore year.

Minor
A minor is extensive course work in a subject different from one’s major.

Private University
These institutions are not publicly funded—although they may accept funding through government grants and loans. Because these schools are not affiliated with a government branch and not bound by strict regulation, their admissions policies, programs and more may be quite different from those at public schools.

Public University
Public universities are mainly funded by a government entity, like the state.

Quarter System
This system divides the nine-month academic calendar into three equal parts of approximately 12 weeks each. (Summer sessions, if any, are usually the same length.)

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Registrar
This is the college official who registers students, collects fees, keeps records, maintains student files and sends transcripts to employers, other colleges and graduate schools.

Retention Rate
The percentage of students who return for the next year of college. A high retention rate is seen as a sign of a successful college program.

Rolling Admissions
Students can apply any time during the year, since there’s no set deadline. However, students should apply during the first half of your senior year.

Semester System
This system divides the academic year into two equal segments of approximately 18 weeks each. (Summer sessions, if any, are shorter, but require more intensive study.)

Student Aid Report (SAR)
This is a report sent to families in response to their submission of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). It indicates the expected family contribution (EFC).

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Transcript
This is the official record of a student’s course work at a school or college. A high school transcript is generally required as part of the college application process.

Trimester System
This is an academic calendar that is divided into three equal terms or trimesters.

Undergraduate
An undergraduate is a college student working toward an associate or bachelor’s degree.

Wait List
This is a list of applicants who may be considered for acceptance if there is still space after admitted students have decided whether or not they’ll attend.

Work-Study
In this federally funded program, students take campus jobs as part of their financial aid package. To participate in a work-study program, students must complete the FAFSA.