Friday, March 25, 2016

College Terms Explained

By Brittney Bodden
WES Student Advisor

It can be an overwhelming process when researching and applying to a college or university as an international student, especially when the terminology seems foreign to those new to the academic world. We’ve compiled a list of terms and definitions specifically for international students to help direct you on the right path. 

  • Academic year: An annual period when students attend an institution. In the U.S., the academic year begins in August/September and ends in May/June. 
  • Accredited: Describes a college or university that meets general academic standards. 
  • ACT (American College Test): A standardized test for high school students consisting of math, English, science, and reading. This test is required for admittance to many colleges or universities. 
  • Advisor: The college or university assigns every student an advisor. The advisor is there to assist students to ensure they’re on track to graduation. 
  • Associate’s degree: A two-year degree program offered by a college or university. 
  • Bachelor’s degree: A four-year degree offered by a college or university. 
  • Commencement: Graduation day, when degrees are issued to students after successfully completing their degree requirements. 
  • Conditional admission: Sometimes known as Provisional Admissions, may be offered to international students who are academically qualified for admissions to a University but need extra assistance with their English proficiency. Once all requirements are successfully fulfilled, you will be offered full admissions. 
  • Course: A set number of classes in a particular subject at a college or university led by an instructor. 
  • Dean’s list: A list of students who are recognized for their academic success during the school year. 
  • Degree: An academic diploma given to students by a college or university upon completion of study. 
  • Doctorate Degree: Also known as a Ph.D. is the highest level of academic success. 
  • Dormitories (dorms): On-campus housing offered by institutions. 
  • Early action: Certain colleges and universities offer high school seniors the option of submitting their application early, usually with a November 1st deadline. 
  • Early decision: Early decision is binding. If a student is accepted through early decision, one must attend that college or university. 
  • Elective: An optional course chosen by a student that counts toward a degree. 
  • Extracurricular activities: Clubs, organizations and sports that students participate in outside of school hours. 
  • FAFSA: Free Application for Federal Student Aid; U.S. citizens and permanent residents must fill out application for federal and state funding. 
  • Financial Aid: Different kinds of funding offered to students to help pay for school tuition and housing. 
  • Full-time student: A student enrolled in at least the minimum amount of credit hours (usually 12) required by the university or college to receive full-time status. 
  • Fellowship: A kind of financial aid usually offered to graduate students who conduct research or teach at the university. 
  • Graduate student: Student who has earned a Bachelor’s degree and is now working towards a Masters or PH.D. 
  • Grant: A type of financial aid that doesn’t have to be paid back. 
  • Internship: A temporary job, paid or unpaid, in a student’s field of study. Sometimes it can be used as a college credit. 
  • International Student Adviser (ISA): A counselor that provides assistance and guidance to international students in their academic and personal matters. 
  • Junior college: Also known as a community college, a two-year institution that offers associate degrees. 
  • Letter of recommendation: A letter written by a teacher, counselor, mentor, or supervisor that evaluates the student’s qualities, characteristics, and skills. Three letters are usually required as part of the college application process. 
  • Loan: A type of financial aid that must be repaid. 
  • Major: A primary area of study. 
  • Master's: A course of study that takes 1 to 3 years to complete after undergraduate studies. 
  • Matriculate: To enroll or become a student at a college or university 
  • MBA: Master of Business Administration degree. 
  • Merit aid: Type of financial aid awarded based on talent or ability. 
  • Midterm exam: A test given halfway through the semester based on the material covered in class. 
  • Minor: A secondary area of study chosen by the student. 
  • Need-Based Aid: Type of financial aid given based on need assessment.
  • Online Classes: Courses that are held online instead of a traditional classroom setting. 
  • Orientation: Process of welcoming incoming students to a new school. 
  • Part-time student: A student who is enrolled in less than the required credits for full time, usually 6 to 12 credits. It differs depending on the institution. 
  • Pass-fail: A grading system for a class or course that institutions use for students rather than a letter grade. 
  • Prerequisite: A required class that must be completed before the student can enroll in a more advanced course. 
  • Private university: A privately funded institution; all students pay the same price for tuition. 
  • Professor: A faculty member who teaches at a college or university. 
  • Public University: Funded by the state government; usually cheaper for residents of that state. 
  • Registration: Process in which students enroll in classes for the upcoming term or semester. 
  • Resident: A student who meets the requirements to be considered an in-state resident. 
  • Room and board: Housing arrangement along with daily meals that institutions may offer as part of tuition. 
  • SAT: Scholastic Aptitude Test; standardized entrance exam 
  • Scholarship: Type of financial aid awarded to students based on academic or skill. Scholarships don’t need repayment. 
  • Semester: Also known as “term”, is one or two divisions of an academic year, usually lasting 15 to 18 weeks, occurring in fall and spring.
  • Seminar: A college class in which a specific topic is discussed throughout the course. 
  • Syllabus: A descriptive outline of a class that lists exams, projects, holidays, and other assignments. 
  • Thesis: A detailed paper involving research analysis, usually written for your Masters or Ph.D. 
  • Transfer student: A student who has previously enrolled in classes at another university and moved from one institution to another. 
  • Tuition: The cost charged by a college or university for courses and other expenses.
  • Undergraduate student: A student studying to earn a bachelors degree. 
  • Virtual visit: An alternative to an in person visits on campus. With the use of the Internet and a computer, students can take a tour online to get a sense of the campus.
  • Visa: a passport that allows entrance into another country. 
  • Waiting List: A list of students to a school that may be offered admittance to the University depending on the space available or if they qualify. There is no guarantee that the student will be granted admissions based on the waiting list. 
  • Withdraw: A student can choose to drop a class during the semester. Certain rules and penalties apply for each University. 
  • Work-study: An on-campus job that allows students to earn funds to help pay for tuition or other costs.

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