University Terminology

Academic Advisor/Counselor - This person will help you select the correct courses, review the course requirements in the field you have selected to pursue and help you with any academic problems you may encounter.

Academic Probation - All colleges require students to maintain a minimum cumulative grade point average (GPA) to remain in school. Any student not maintaining the minimum GPA will be placed on probation for a semester.

Academic Suspension – A student on Academic Probation may be placed on Academic Suspension if he/she fails to maintain or achieve the minimum cumulative GPA required. A student placed on suspension will be dismissed from the college for a specified time period – one semester for the first suspension. Specific requirements may be placed on the student’s re-entry into college.

Alumni – People who have graduated from the institution. A male is called an alumnus, while a female is called an alumna.

Application/Acceptance/Admission - Application is the process by which a prospective student submits the required forms and credentials to his/her chosen institution. Application criteria may include one or more of the following: previous academic records, test scores, interviews, recommendations, and other information provided by the applicant. Depending on the application requirements of a particular school, the student can gain Acceptance to the institution if the decision to accept the application is positive. Admission is the status granted to an applicant who meets the prescribed entrance requirements of the institution (It must be noted that there is a wide variation nationwide in the Application/Acceptance/ Admission policies of higher education institutions. Check the college catalog for specific requirements of the schools you are considering).

Associate Degree - The Associate Degree is granted upon completion of a program of at least two, but less than four years of college work. Associate of Arts and Associate of Science degrees are conferred upon students who successfully complete programs designed for transfer to a baccalaureate-granting institution. The Associate Degree requires completion of a minimum of 60 credit hours, exclusive of physical education activity courses or military science courses, with a cumulative GPA of 2.0 (a “C” average).

Associate of Applied Science Degree - This degree is conferred upon students who successfully complete a program designed to lead the individual directly into employment in a specific career. The Applied Science degree has the same requirements as those stated above for the Associate Degree.

Audit - A student who does not want to receive credit or a grade in a course may, with approval of the institution, audit the course as a “visitor.” The student usually must pay the tuition for the course. A student who audits a course usually cannot ask or petition the institution at a later date to obtain college credit for the audited course.

Bachelor’s Degree (also called Baccalaureate Degree) - This is the undergraduate degree offered by four-year colleges and universities. The Bachelor of Arts degree requires that a portion of the student’s studies be dedicated to the arts – literature, language, music, etc. The Bachelor of Science degree requires that a portion of the studies be in the sciences – chemistry, biology, math, etc. The minimum credit hour requirement for a Bachelor’s Degree is 120 hours.

Bookstore - All colleges have bookstores. Bookstores generally stock all the books and other materials required in all the courses offered at the institution as well as providing basic sundries and clothing items.

Business Office - The Business Office is responsible for all financial transactions of the institution. It may also be called the Bursar’s Office or the Cashier’s Office on some campuses.

Campustown - Commercial area near campus with stores, restaurants, etc.

Catalog – College catalogs provide all types of information parents and students need to know about a school. They list, for example: the institution’s history and philosophy, policies and procedures, its accreditation status, courses of study, degrees and certificates offered, physical facilities, admission and enrollment procedures, financial aid, student life activities, etc. They are considered the student’s contract with the institution.

Certificate Programs - Certificate programs are designed to provide specific job skills. Certificate programs require a minimum of thirty credit hours of vocational coursework, and generally do not require any general education coursework (communication, humanities, social science, natural science, etc.).

CLEP – The College Level Examination Program can be administered to students who desire to obtain college credit by taking proficiency tests in selected courses. If the student scores high enough on the test, college credit can be awarded. There is a charge for each test taken. Information concerning an individual institution’s policies toward CLEP Tests can be found in the institution’s catalog.

College – A College is an institution of higher education that grants degrees and certificates. The term is also used to designate the organizational units of a university such as the College of Education or the College of Engineering.

Commuter College - Some colleges do not have on-campus housing, and all students live off campus and commute to the college for classes.

Concurrent Enrollment - A student can enroll and attend two educational institutions at the same time provided that certain criteria are met. For example: In Colorado, high school juniors and seniors can concurrently enroll in high school and in college provided he/she meets established criteria. A college student can concurrently enroll at two higher education institutions provided that certain criteria are met. Permission for concurrent enrollments is generally made in advance.

Course Numbers - All courses are identified by numbers usually containing 3 or 4 digits. At the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign they are:
000-099 Noncredit preparatory courses
100-199 Lower level undergraduate courses
200-299 Lower level undergraduate courses
300-399 Upper level undergraduate courses
400-499 Upper level undergraduate and graduate courses
500-599 Graduate courses
600-699 Professional courses (law and veterinary medicine courses only)

Credit Hours – Courses taken in college are measured in terms of credit hours. Laboratory classes will require more class time per credit hour. Typical college classes are 3 credit hours, but college classes can range from less than one credit hour to 12 or more credit hours.

Curriculum - A curriculum is composed of those classes prescribed or outlined by an institution for completion of a program of study leading to a degree or certificate.

Degree Requirements - Requirements prescribed by an institution 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.

Degrees – Degrees are rewards for the successful completion of a prescribed program of study. There are 3 basic types of degree: Associate – obtainable at a community or junior college, Baccalaureate or Bachelor’s – offered by four-year colleges and universities, and Graduate – post-baccalaureate degrees (Masters and Doctorate degrees) offered through graduate schools.

Department - A department is the basic organizational unit in a higher education institution, and is responsible for the academic functions in a field of study. It may also be used in the broader sense to indicate an administrative or service unit of an institution.

Division - A division represents a number of different units of a college or university: (1) an administrative division of an institution usually consisting of more than one department; (2) an academic division of an institution based on the year-level of students, lower and upper division; and (3) a service division of an institution that is composed of a number of service departments, such as the Student Services Division.

Drop and Add - Students are generally permitted to drop courses from their class schedules and/or add other courses. Courses that are dropped do not appear on a student’s transcript and the student generally does not have to pay for the course. Colleges allow varying lengths of time for students to add and drop classes. The college catalog or class schedule should note the correct procedures.

EOP – Educational Opportunity Program – A program designed to assist students from various ethnic backgrounds who are underrepresented or in need of academic support.

Enrollment – This is the procedure by which students choose classes each semester. It also includes the assessment and the collection of fees. Students can be dis-enrolled (removed from their classes) if they fail to pay their tuition and fees.

Extra-Curricular Activities - These are non-classroom activities that can contribute to a well-rounded education. They can include such activities as athletics, clubs, student government, recreational and social organizations and events.

Faculty – The faculty is composed of persons who teach classes for colleges. Some colleges differentiate between faculty and instructors. Instructors are hired to teach a specific class or classes, while faculty members have contracts with the college that require additional duties beyond teaching.

Fees – Fees are additional charges not included in the tuition. Fees may be charged to cover the cost of materials and equipment needed in certain courses, and they may be assessed for student events, programs and publications.

Final Exams (Finals) - These end-of-the-semester exams are either given during the last week of classes each semester or during a specific week called “Finals Week.” The type of final administered in a course is left to the discretion of the instructor. Final exams given during Finals Week are given on specified dates that may be different than the regular class time and are usually two hours in length. Finals schedules are usually listed in each semester’s class schedule.

Financial Aid - Aid for paying college expenses is made available from grants, scholarships, loans and part-time employment from federal, state, institutional and private sources. Financial aid from these programs may be combined in an “award package” to meet or defray from the cost of education. The types and amounts of aid awarded are based upon financial need, available funds, student classification, academic performance, and sometimes the timeliness of application.

Fraternities/Sororities (also called the Greek System) - Fraternities (for men) and sororities (for women) are social organizations that are active in various activities. Through a process of mutual selection, called Rush (which takes place during a specified period of time), students may be offered the opportunity to “pledge” a certain fraternity of sorority. Not all colleges have these organizations.

Fulltime Enrollment/Part-Time Enrollment - A full-time student is enrolled in 12 or more credit hours in a semester (full-time status for a summer term may require fewer credit hours). A part-time student is enrolled in fewer than 12 credit hours in a semester.

Honor Roll - Students are placed on honor rolls for GPA’s above certain specified levels. Criteria for President’s, Dean’s or other honor rolls vary at different institutions. In most cases, students must be enrolled full-time to be eligible.

Humanities Courses – Humanities courses are classes that cover subjects such as literature, philosophy, foreign languages, and the fine arts. Most undergraduate degrees require a certain number of humanities credit hours.

Impacted Programs — The term applies to a degree program which, because of heavy enrollment may be temporarily closed to new students or may require supplementary screening or earlier application filing deadlines, i.e. Engineering.

Junior/Community College – A Junior/Community College is often called a two-year institution of higher education. Course offerings generally include a transfer curriculum with credits transferable toward a bachelor’s degree at a four-year college, and an occupational or technical curriculum with courses of study designed to prepare students for employment in two years.

Lecture/Laboratory/Discussion Classes – In lecture classes, students attend class on a regular basis and the instructor lectures on class material. Laboratory classes require students to perform certain functions in controlled situations that help them test and understand what is being taught in the lecture. Discussion classes, sometimes called Seminar classes, offer students the opportunity to talk about material being taught, ask questions, and discuss material with their classmates. Discussion classes are often taught by Masters or Doctoral students, and are becoming more common on college campuses.

Letter Grades/Grade Point Averages (GPA) – Most colleges use both letter grades and GPA’s in determining students’ grades. Most colleges figure GPA’s using the following method: A’s are worth 4 points; B’s are worth 3 points; C’s are worth 2 points; D’s are worth 1 point; and F’s are worth 0 points. To figure a GPA, multiply the number of hours a course is worth by the number of points for the letter grade, then add up the totals for each course and divide by the number of credit hours.

Major/Minor - A major is a student’s chosen field of study. It usually requires the successful completion of a specified number of credit hours. A minor is designated as a specific number of credit hours in a secondary field of study.

Mid-term Exams (Midterms) - During the middle of each semester, instructors may give mid-term exams that test students on the material covered during the first half of the semester. Some classes have only two tests, a midterm and a final.

Non-Credit Courses – Some courses have zero (0) credit hours and do not meet the requirements for a certificate of a degree at a given institution. Non-credit courses may serve one of several purposes: to explore new fields of study, increase proficiency in a particular skill area or profession, develop potential or enrich life experiences.

Open-Door Institution – Open-door institutions are usually public junior/community colleges. The term “open-door” refers to an admission policy that states that anyone who meets certain age requirements can be admitted to that college. Open-door admissions policies do not mean that students can take any classes that they choose, however. Students must meet class pre-requisites in order to enroll in specific classes.

Pass/Fail Courses - Pass/fail courses do not earn letter grades or grade points for students. If a student passes a pass/fail course, he/she receives a “P” (pass) or “S” (satisfactory) on the transcript and the credit hours. If the student does not pass the course, they will receive an “F” (fail) or “U” (unsatisfactory) on the transcript and no credit hours. Pass/fail courses are not figured into the student’s GPA.

Prerequisites (Prerequisite Courses) - A prerequisite is a condition that must be met before a student can enroll in a course. The prerequisite can include a specific skill level (a minimum ACT, SAT or basic skills test score) or the completion of a specific course, called a prerequisite course. For example, Accounting I is a prerequisite for Accounting II.

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, or from religious or other organizations and student tuition. Boards of trustees govern private institutions.

Registrar – The registrar of an institution is responsible for maintaining all academic records. Duties may also include maintenance of class enrollments, providing statistical information on student enrollment, certification of athletic eligibility and student eligibility for honor rolls, certification of the eligibility of veterans, administering probation and retention policies and verification of the completion of degree requirements for graduation.

Resident/Non-resident Status – The amount of tuition a student pays to a public (state supported) college is determined by the student’s state residence status. If a student is a resident of the state, then the student pays a lower tuition rate. A non-resident will pay a higher tuition rate. Residency requirements vary from state to state, but are determined by where a student’s parents live, if the student is younger than a certain age. Tuition rates for private colleges are not based on residency.

Residential College – Many colleges have on-campus housing for students, called dormitories. Usually first (and sometimes second) year students are required to live on campus.

Schedule of Classes – Colleges publish and distribute a Class Schedule book for each semester. With the help of Academic Advisors or Faculty Advisor, students make up their own individual class schedules for each semester they are enrolled. Courses are designated in the Class Schedule by course department, course number, time and days the course meets, the room number and building name and the instructor’s name. A class schedule is a list of classes a student is taking and includes course name and number, time and location of the class.

Student Identification Card (I.D.) – A student ID is usually required in college. A Student ID generally includes a photograph of the student, a student number (often the social security number), the student’s name, the name of the college and the semester enrolled. The ID’s require validation each semester. The card is often required for admittance to functions sponsored by the college or for identification when for cashing checks or other purposes.

Syllabus – A course syllabus is summary of the course. It usually contains specific information about the course; information on how to contact the instructor, including the instructors office location and office hours; an outline of what will be covered in the course, with a schedule of test dates and the due dates for assignments; the grading policy for the course; and specific classroom rules. It is usually given to each student during the first class session.

Transcript – The transcript is a permanent academic record of a student at a college. It may show courses attempted, grades received, academic status, and honors received. Colleges do not release transcripts if a student owes any money to the college.

Transfer of Credits – Some students attend more than one institution during their college careers and will wish for accumulated credit hours from the former institution to transfer to the new one. To transfer credits, a student must have an official transcript sent to the new institution, which will determine which courses will apply toward graduation requirements.

Tuition - Tuition is the amount paid for each credit hour of enrollment. Tuition does not include the cost of books, fees or room and board. Tuition charges vary from college to college and are dependent on such factors as resident or out-of-state status, level of classes enrolled in (lower, upper or graduate division), and whether the institution is publicly or privately financed.

Tutors - A tutor is 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 – An undergraduate is a student who is pursuing either a certificate or an Associate or Baccalaureate degree.

University - A university is composed of undergraduate, graduate and professional colleges and offers degrees in each.

Withdrawal – Students may withdraw from courses during a semester, but there are established procedures for doing so. The college catalog and/or Class Schedule generally specifies the procedures. Written approval from a university official must be secured. Classes from which a student withdraws are usually listed on the student’s transcript, and the student is responsible for paying the tuition and fees for the class.