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College Glossary

Academic Advisor: College or university staff who work with students on selecting appropriate classes for their degree, running degree audits, and registering for courses.

Academic Probation: A status colleges give to students who are struggling to pass courses. Academic probation is used to warn students that they need to improve their performance. Students on academic probation may lose scholarships or become ineligible for university sports.

Academic Suspension: If a student on academic probation fails to earn the minimum semester GPA for the credit hours earned at the next semester enrollment, she/he will be suspended from the college and will not be allowed to enroll for one full semester. During this period of suspension, students will be encouraged to remedy the causes of their lack of progress.

Accredited: An accredited university or college is certified to provide a high-quality education in the United States. Most employers and graduate programs only consider degrees from accredited schools.

ACT: A standardized test used by schools to help determine if they will admit your student or not. The ACT is typically taken in the spring of the junior year of high school, and/or the fall of the senior year of high school.

Add/Drop Period: A grace period at the beginning of each semester during which your student can decide to add or drop a course with no penalty.

Administrative drop (purge): This is the date that registered students with an outstanding balance due will be dropped from all classes. Things can protect you from being purged/dropped: a completed financial aid file, payment plan, or full payment of all charges.

Alumni: People who have graduated from the college.

AP Course: An advanced placement (AP) course is a class your student can take in high school, usually during their senior year, that could earn them credit toward their college degree.

Associate of Applied Science (A.A.S.): A degree which can be earned at most two-year colleges, with a focus on a field in the sciences. The credits earned from this degree can sometimes be transferred to a 4-year Bachelor’s degree.

Associate of Arts (A.A.): A degree which can be earned at most two-year colleges, with a focus on a liberal arts field. The credits earned from this degree can sometimes be transferred to a 4-year Bachelor’s degree.

Audit: A way for a student to take a course they’re interested in without earning credit, or without having the grade affect their GPA.

Award Letter: Financial aid document that summarizes and details the financial aid awards being offered to you from a college.

Bachelors (B.A. or B.S.): A degree which can be earned at four-year colleges, with a focus on a field in the sciences (B.S.) or liberal arts (B.A.).

Bridge Programs: Bridge programs feature a seamless transition into college. These programs are typically completed during the summer after graduating from high school.

Canvas: Aweb-based set of course tools designed to deliver online learning.

Career Services: An office on a college campus that advises students on preparing for a particular career and support with resume building, mock job interviews, internships search, etc.

Certificates: Typically a package of five or six courses, for credit or not, taken over three to 18 months. Some cost a few thousand dollars, others much more.

Co-ed: Refers to any program, dormitory, or activity that includes all genders. This term is typically used to describe dorms that have both boys and girls living on the same floor.

Co-op: A Cooperative Education Program, or Co-op, is a program that combines classroom-based education with practical work experience. Some co-ops complete these experiences concurrently while other programs alternate academic terms with work experience. Many co-ops offer students paid work experiences.

Commencement: A graduation ceremony for high school or college students.

Community College: A school that typically requires only a high school degree to attend, with no further requirements. Students can take one-off courses or pursue Associate’s degrees at community colleges. Often, credits from a community colleges can be transferred to a 4-year university.

Cost of Attendance: A total amount of attending the college including tuition and fees, room and board, books, supplies, transportation, miscellaneous personal items, loan fees, study abroad costs, dependent care expenses, disability-related expenses and cooperative education program costs.

Co-requisite Courses: Courses that are taken during the same semester. Most co-requisites are recommended; however, some may be required.

Course Catalog: This is a listing of all the courses that are offered at a college or university.

Course Load: The number of courses, or total credit hours, your student takes in any given semester.

Credit (or Semester) Hour/Units: A unit of measuring academic credit, usually based on the number classroom hours per week. A semester unit of credit is commonly equal to a minimum of three hours of work per week for a semester. Many classes earn a student three to four credit hours.

Curriculum: The lessons and academic content taught in a course or program at a college or university.

Dean: The head or president of a college or university.

Dean’s List: A regularly issued list of students who have achieved high academic excellence. Qualification for the Dean’s List varies from school to school.

Deferment: A deferment or forbearance allows you to temporarily stop making your federal student loan payments or to temporarily reduce the amount you pay.

Degree: A degree is the final result of a college education. It’s awarded when a student earns a certain number of qualifying credit hours. Examples of degrees include Bachelor of Science, Bachelor of Arts, Master of Business Administration, a PhD, Associate’s, and more.

Degree Audit: A report or review of a student’s academic progress toward a degree and what courses are finished and those that still need to be completed. A degree audit is often done with an academic advisor.

Degree Plan: A degree plan, curriculum or program plan, is a list of courses and requirements needed for a degree or certificate. Use it to plan your schedule and get approval for financial aid. You can get a copy in the course catalog or in an advising office.

Degree Requirements: Those requirements prescribed by institutions for completion of a program of study are generally termed degree requirements. Requirements may include a minimum number of hours, required GPA, prerequisite and elective courses within the specified major and/or minor areas of study.

Department: Refers to a certain section of a university. Departments are usually aligned with degrees or areas of study within a college, such as the engineering department, English department, etc.

Dependency Override: The Authority of a school’s financial aid administrator to override a student’s dependency status.

Direct Deposit: Direct deposit allows the transfer of any excess financial aid refunds directly into a student’s personal bank account. To sign-up for direct deposit you will typically need to provide your bank account information to your school.

Distance Learning: Also known as long-distance learning, this term refers to classes taken remotely, away from the college which offers the classes. These often include online classes.

Doctorate (PhD): PhD stands for Doctorate of Philosophy. This doesn’t just apply to students studying philosophy — a doctorate is part of a post-graduate program, which means it can be pursued after a student has received a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree. A doctoral dissertation is typically required to receive a PhD.

Dormitories (Dorm) or Residence Hall: These are buildings that houses students on a college or university campus.

Double Major: Students who pursue two majors (which may or may not be in related fields) are completing a Double Major.

Drop: When a student leaves a course during the Add/Drop grace period, it’s referred to as dropping. There is no penalty for dropping a course during the grace period. Students may decide to drop because they are overwhelmed by their course load or want to take a different class. This is different than withdrawing, which comes after the add/drop period is over.

Electives: Electives are courses which students can choose, while compulsory (or required) courses are mandatory courses that students must complete to meet a program’s requirements.

Enroll/Register: This is the procedure by which students choose classes each semester. It also includes the assessment and collection of fees.

Expected Family Contribution (EFC): The EFC is the amount the federal government is estimating a family can contribute toward the Cost of Attendance (COA).

Extracurricular Activities: An extracurricular activity can be just about anything a student becomes involved with through their college that is not required for their major or degree. Some examples include sports, clubs, volunteering, research, study abroad, etc.

Faculty: Faculty are professors or other individuals who teach courses at a college or university.

FAFSA: The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (or FAFSA) is the application students complete to be considered for Federal financial aid such as grants, loans, and some scholarships. The FAFSA opens for the following academic year on October 1st.

Federal Pell Grant: Federal Pell Grants are a form of Federal financial aid and usually are awarded only to undergraduate students who display exceptional financial need and have not earned a bachelor’s, graduate, or professional degree.

Federal Perkins Loans: Loans made through the Federal Perkins Loan Program, often called Perkins Loans, are low-interest federal student loans for undergraduate and graduate students with exceptional financial need.

FERPA: The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) is a Federal law that protects the privacy of student education records.

Finals: Exams at the end of a semester that test a student’s knowledge on everything covered in a course. Finals are usually weighted more heavily than other exams and coursework.

Financial Aid: Refers to any type of student loan, scholarship, or grant your student receives to help pay for college.

Financial Need: This is determined by the difference between the cost of college and the student’s ability to pay for it. Typically, this takes into account the ability of the student’s parents to help pay for school, as well.

First-Generation College Student: A student who is the first in their family to attend college. The term first generation college student typically refers to a student whose parents didn’t earn a college degree.

First-Year Student: A college freshman.

Fraternity: A fraternity is an affiliation or organization that provides members academic, professional, and/or social opportunities to connect with other students with similar interests. Many fraternities sponsor or organize volunteer projects to give back to their communities.

Full-Time College Student: A student who is taking a full course load, typically 12 or more credits.

General Education Courses (GE’s): General Education Courses, or GE’s, are courses students take to fulfill their degree requirements. Many of these courses will fall into the subjects of Mathematics, Science, English (Literature & Writing), and Social Sciences. These courses are typically taken in the first year or two of a students degree program and serve as the foundation to a college education.

GMAT: The Graduate Management Admissions Test (GMAT) exam is the standardized exam specifically designed for admission to graduate business and management programs. Many student who want to pursue an MBA will need to complete this test.

GPA: Your Grade Point Average, or GPA, is an averaged measure of your grades, typically ranging form 0 – 4.0.

Grace Period: The grace period is a set period of time after you graduate, leave school, or drop below half-time enrollment before you must begin repayment on your loan. The grace period gives you time to get financially settled and to select your repayment plan. Not all federal student loans have a grace period. Note that for most loans, interest will accrue during your grace period.

Graduate School: A school attended after a student has received a Bachelor’s degree. Graduate school is where students can receive a Master’s degree. Many universities offer graduate programs in addition to Bachelor’s programs. Graduate school typically takes 2 years to complete.

Graduate Degrees: These degrees are earned beyond the bachelor’s degree when the student completes graduate school curriculum requirements. Common examples include the MA (master’s degree), PhD (doctoral degree) MBA (master’s degree in business administration), and MD (medical doctor).

Grant: A monetary award given to a student to help pay college expenses. Grants are usually not repaid by the student.

GRE: The Graduate Records Examinations (GRE) test is the standardized exam for admission to many graduate degree programs. Many students who want to pursue graduate school will need to complete this test.

Greek Life: Fraternities and sororities are collectively known as Greek Life on college and university campuses.

Hold: A hold is placed on a student’s academic record when an outstanding obligation, monetary or material, occurs. The Hold is released when the obligation has been satisfactorily met. Any person who has a Hold placed on their record will not be allowed to register, receive transcripts, or receive any other services from the college until the Hold is released.

Hybrid Classes: A hybrid course is one that combines online learning (accessible from the Web) and face-to-face instruction. The schedule and structure (which include online assignments and discussion forums as well as required labs) can significantly vary from one class to another. These are typically determined by the instructor based upon learning goals, course objectives, content, and available resources.

Institutional Grant: These are grants offered to students through the college they are attending. In most cases, grants are considered gift aid and do not need to be repaid.

Institutional Loan: These are loans offered to students through the college they are attending and need to be repaid.

Internship: An internship is a short-term job, usually for the summer or a semester, that a student takes to get experience in their field of interest. Students may also earn credit that can apply to their degree. An internship can sometimes lead to a job offer.

IRS Data Retrieval Tool: A method to transfer electronically the student’s or custodial parents’ IRS tax information to student’s FAFSA form.

Lab: Laboratory classes require students to perform certain functions in controlled situations that help them test and understand what is being taught in the lecture.

Lecture: The term for a class that does not entail lab work.

Letter of Recommendation: A letter written by your student’s high school teacher, employer, or mentor, explaining to a college admissions department why the student would be a good fit for their school.

Liberal Arts: Refers to non-technical, vocational fields of study, including literature, art, mathematics, philosophy, and social and natural sciences.

Loan: Loans are borrowed money that must be repaid.

Loan Counseling: Counseling session provides information about how to manage your student loans, both during and after college. This session is required for all first-time borrowers at Greenville Technical College and must be completed before loans are certified with the lender.

LSAT: The Law School Admission Test (LSAT) is the standardized exam for admission to many law school programs. Many students who want to pursue law as a career will need to complete this test.

Major: A student’s concentrated field of study. For example, your major be in biology, philosophy, or aerospace engineering.

Master’s Degree: A degree received in graduate school, post-undergrad. Master’s degrees usually take two years to complete.

Master Promissory Note: The legal, binding document that must be signed by the student borrower prior to loan funds being disbursed to Greenville Technical College. The promissory note states the terms and conditions of the loan, including repayment schedule, interest rate, deferment policies, and cancellation provisions.

MCAT: The Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) is the standardized exam for admission to many medical school programs. Many students who want to medicine as a career will need to complete this test.

Meal Plan: The plan that dictates how many meals a student can eat at on-campus dining facilities. Some meal plans also include a discretionary spending fund that can be used as cash at campus restaurants or snack shops. If you are living on-campus in dorms/residence halls, you might be required to purchase a meal plan.,

Merit-Based: Financial aid that is awarded based on a student’s achievements or skills are considered merit-based.

Midterms: Exams that occur in the middle of a semester, to test a student’s grasp of topics covered in a course up to that point. Midterms are typically weighted more heavily than other tests and coursework, but not as heavily as finals.

Minor: A student’s secondary field of study. This is typically earned in tandem with a major. For example, you might graduate with a major in biology and a minor in chemistry.

Need-Based: Financial aid that is awarded based on a student’s financial need are considered need-based.

Nonresident: Status applied to students who do not live in the same state as the university they’re attending. Nonresidents usually pay much higher tuition than in-state students.

Off Campus Living: Off campus living refers to any living arrangement not facilitated by the college. It could be in a rented house, apartment, or at home with you.

Office Hours: This is time that a professor or instructor sets aside for students to meet with him or her to discuss questions or review course material.

Official Transcript: An official college transcript is one that you have received directly from the issuing college or university. It must bear the college seal, current date and an appropriate signature.

Online Classes: Online classes meet via computer, through an online learning management system, like Canvas. Online students log in to attend class. There they access course lectures, receive assignments, and correspond with classmates and instructors. They can be structured as Asynchronous, Synchronous or Hybrid.

Orientation: This is a program that incoming students attend to become more familiar with a college’s campus, it’s resources, and to meet with advisors.

Part-Time College Student: A student who does not have a full course load. A student taking fewer than 12 credit hours in any given semester is typically considered a part time college student.

Pass/Fail Course: A class in which no grade is given — a student simply passes or fails. This is similar to Satisfactory or Unsatisfactory courses.

Payment Plan: A payment plan breaks your educational costs into easy to handle monthly payments rather than paying for the entire semester in one large sum. You can enroll in the payment plan with your institution. There is a typically non-refundable fee to enroll in the payment plan. Students who have pending financial aid will typically enroll in a payment plan to avoid being dropped/purged from classes.

Placement Testing: Placement tests ensure that you get started in the right classes for your academic background and your program. Taking a class for which you are not prepared could prevent you from successfully moving forward in your college career. If your test scores indicate that you need additional preparation before you enter classes that count toward your program, you may need to take one or more remedial courses.

Plagiarism: Copying some or all of someone else’s work and claiming it as your own. Plagiarism is taken seriously in college and could result in an F, academic probation, or expulsion.

PLUS Loan: PLUS loans are federal loans that graduate or professional students and parents of dependent undergraduate students can use to help pay for college or career school. PLUS loans can help pay for education expenses not covered by other financial aid.

Prerequisite: A course that must be taken prior to enrollment in another course. For example, Calculus 1 is a pre-requisite to Calculus 2 — a student can’t take the latter without having passed the former.

President’s List: A category of students in a college or university who achieve high grades during their stay in an academic term or academic year. Students who achieve a high grade point average outlined by the institution, will be placed on the President’s List.

Private/Public Institutions: Private and public institutions differ primarily in terms of their source of financial support. Public institutions receive funding from the state or other governmental entities and are administered by public boards. Private institutions rely on income from private donations, from religious or other organizations, and student tuition.

Priority Deadlines: Dates by which you need to have your file completed in order to get financial aid before the fee payment deadline.

Purge (administrative drop): This is the date that registered students with an outstanding balance due will be dropped from all classes. Things can protect you from being purged/dropped: a completed financial aid file, payment plan, or full payment of all charges.

Remedial Courses: Pre-college level courses which help students improve skills and prepare for college-level courses. Based on your placement test scores, these courses may be required in order to be eligible to take college-level courses required for your program of study.

Refund (financial aid): Excess funds, the amount of your aid that is left after tuition, fees, books and supplies have been deducted, are refunded to students.

Registrar: The registrar of an institution is responsible for the maintenance of all academic records and may include such duties as: maintenance of class enrollments, providing statistical information on student enrollment, student eligibility for academic honors, administering probation and retention policies, and verification of the completion of degree requirements for graduation.

Registration: The period in which a student can sign up for the classes they wish to take in a semester.

Resident Advisor/Assistant (RA): A resident advisor or ‘RA’ is an upperclassman who is available to assist and guide college students living in dorms and resident halls.

Room and Board: The price paid to cover on-campus living and meal plan expenses, usually paid for a semester or year at a time.

SAT: Stands for the Scholastic Aptitude Test. Like the SAT, it is used by many schools to determine a prospective student’s eligibility. It is usually taken in the spring semester of the junior year of high school, and can be retaken in the fall of the senior year of high school.

Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP): SAP ensures that students who are receiving federal and state aid are making measurable progress toward completion of a degree, diploma or certificate program within a reasonable time frame. Performance is measured in the following areas: completion rate, GPA and length of eligibility.

Satisfactory Academic Progress Appeal: Students who fail to meet the standards of satisfactory academic progress as defined in the college catalog and student handbook have the option of submitting an appeal. The financial aid office is able to consider appeals based on illness, separation/divorce, or work-related issues.

Semester: A half year of college. There is a fall semester and a spring semester. Most courses are one semester long which is traditionally 16 weeks.

Scholarship: A financial award to help your student pay for college.

Sorority: A sorority is an affiliation or organization that provides members academic, professional, and/or social opportunities to connect with other students with similar interests. Many sororities sponsor or organize volunteer projects to give back to their communities.

Stafford Loan: Subsidized and unsubsidized loans are federal student loans for eligible students to help cover the cost of higher education at a four-year college or university, community college, or trade, career, or technical school. The U.S. Department of Education offers eligible students at participating schools Direct Subsidized Loans and Direct Unsubsidized Loans. (Some people refer to these loans as Stafford Loans or Direct Stafford Loans.)

STEM: Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. STEM is used to refer to this general field of study.

Student Aid Report (SAR): Is a paper or electronic document that gives you some basic information about your eligibility for federal student aid and lists your answers to the questions on your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®). Any student with an FSA ID can view or print his/her SAR by clicking Log In on the FAFSA on the Web home page to log in, then selecting View or Print your Student Aid Report (SAR) from the “My FAFSA” page.

Study Abroad: Many programs offer the ability to study abroad for a semester, in which a student can live in another country while attending school there.

Subsidized Loans: Subsidized Loans do not accrue interest while you are in school at least half-time or during deferment periods.

Syllabus: A general summary of a course handed out to students at the beginning of a semester. It is a course outline including your professor’s expectations of the students and list of assignments/projects/tests that will be completed throughout the semester.

Teaching Assistant (TA): Many large classes employ teaching assistants to help the professor. A TA will usually teach recitations outside of a lecture, in which smaller groups of students review the material covered in the lecture. A TA may also hold office hours where students can come ask questions.

Transcript: A transcript is an overview of a student’s academic progress — it usually includes their GPA and total credit hours.

Transfer: Associated degrees completed at a community college enable students to complete the equivalent of their freshman and sophomore years of college in an affordable, flexible, close-to-home situation conducive to college success. Students planning to transfer to a four-year degree are encouraged to meet with advisors at their transfer center to plan their schedules. Individual factors to be considered are scholastic aptitude, career goals and the student’s specific transfer plans.

Transfer Credit: Credits that can be transferred from one school and applied toward a degree at another.

Tuition: The amount of money charged for instruction by a college or university.

Tutor: A person, generally another student, who has completed and/or demonstrated proficiency in a course or subject, and is able to provide instruction to another student. Tutors usually help students better understand course material and make better grades.

Undergraduate Student: A student enrolled in a bachelor’s degree program, an associate’s degree program, or a vocational or technical program.

Unofficial Transcript: An unofficial transcript is a transcript that students can access from their student center. Unlike the official transcript, it does not have the college seal, current date and an appropriate signature.

Unsubsidized Loans: Unsubsidized Loans accrue interest while you are in school.

Verification: Federal Process of improving accuracy of the information submitted on the FAFSA form.

Wait List (for a course): A list of prospective students who have not been officially enrolled into a class, but could still be added if another student drops. Being waitlisted is not a guarantee that you will be added to the course.

Withdraw: If you leaves a course after the add/drop period is over, it is called a withdraw. While withdrawal does not affect a student’s GPA, it is shown on their transcript. Withdraw can also refer to term withdrawal, in which a student stops taking all their courses for the rest of a semester.

Work Study: A federal program which provides universities with funding to hire students for part-time jobs to help them pay for school while they attend.

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