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Academic calendar
How a school-year is divided: usually into three quarters that last from 10-11 weeks, or two semesters that last from 17-18 weeks, or 3 trimesters that usually last about three months each.

Academic preparation
All coursework and other scholastic experiences that a student takes during his or her high school career.

Acceptance letter
A formal acknowledgment from a college that a student has been admitted.

Upon being found eligible by the Services for Students with Disabilities departments for College Board (SAT and Subject Tests) and ACT, receiving one or more of the following: Extended time, larger print test booklets, permission to bring snacks or mediation to the test site, extra breaks, sign-language interpreter, Braille edition of a test, audiocassette version of a test, a reader to read a test, a writer to record student responses.

Advanced Placement (AP)
33 college level courses and exams across 22 subject areas are offered by some high schools for which students can sometimes earn college credit. Advanced Placement (AP) exams are taken by students every May.

Alumni (plural) Alumna (female singular), Alumnus (male singular)
Graduates/graduate of an educational institution.

AP Scholar
Given to students who have taken 3 or more AP exams for which they have received 3 or higher on full-year courses.

AP Scholar with Honor
Given to students who have taken 4 or more AP exams on full-years course for which they have received a 3.25 on all exams taken.

AP Scholar with Distinction
Given to students who have taken 5 or more AP Exams on full-year courses for which they have received an average grade of 3.5 on all exams taken.

National AP Scholar
Given to students in the U.S. who receive an average score of 4 or more on all AP exams taken and a score of 4 or higher on 5 or more o these exams.

American College Test (ACT)
A college entrance exam offered by the American College Testing Corporation accepted by all colleges in place of the SAT I.

Associate of Arts (AA)
A two-year college degree given by community colleges after a prescribed course of study has been completed.

To attend a class, but not take tests or receive grades or credit.





Bachelor's Degree Bachelor of Arts (BA), Bachelor of Science (BS)
A college degree given by an undergraduate college or university after a student successfully completes a specified course of study, usually in four years.





Class rank
How a student stands among his or her peers according to GPA

College Entrance Examination Board (CEEB) or College Board
The organization that administers the PSAT, SAT Reasoning Test, Subject Tests, and AP tests.

College Fair
A large gathering of college admissions representatives available to speak with prospective applicants, usually sponsored by the National Association of College Admission Counseling in different locations throughout the US.

College Interview
Lasting from 15 minutes to an hour, a meeting between an admissions representative (college official, alumnus or alumna) of a college and a prospective student for the purpose of exchanging information, asking and answering questions, and sometimes evaluating a student's qualifications.

College List
A list of between 8 and 12 colleges or more that match a student's academic background, as well as his or her intellectual, personal, social, emotional, financial, spiritual and other needs and desires.

College Preparatory (aka, college prep) Courses
Courses offered by high schools that meet required or recommended subject requirements necessary for admission to colleges.

College Representative (college rep)
An admissions officer assigned to a particular high school, city or geographic area. This person often is the first admissions official to read a student's application.

College rankings
Based on different criteria, how colleges measure up against one another as defined by the likes of US News & World Report and others.

College Scholarship Service (CSS) PROFIL
A financial aid form provided by the College Board that is required by many colleges and universities.

Common Application
A standard online or hard copy application form accepted by many colleges and universities. Some colleges also require their own supplemental forms.

Community College
A two-year college that offers both terminal vocational programs, as well as transfer programs in which a student may transfer to a four-year college.

Consortium colleges
A group of colleges such as the Five College Consortium (Amherst, Hampshire, U Mass Amherst, Mt. Holyoke, and Smith) and the Claremont Colleges (Claremont McKenna, Harvey Mudd, Pitzer, Pomona and Scripps) that offer joint academic programs, cross-registration for classes, and shared, activity, social, athletic and other programs.

Co-operative program
Offered by some colleges, an on-the-job training program that is often related to a student's college major.

Core curriculum
A specific set of required courses that students in a college or university must take and pass in order to graduate.

Credit (Semester, quarter, trimester hours)
A unit representing one hour of class per week for one quarter, one semester or one trimester.

Cumulative record
A complete record of all the courses a student has taken and grades received over the course of his or her high school career.





An action taken by colleges for both Early Action and Early Decision applications in which they postpone making an admissions decision about an application until the regular admission cycle.

Deferred Admission
An offer by a college to a student to enroll Winter term or Second Semester (Quarter) of a student's freshman year, rather than Fall term or First Semester.

Demonstrated interest
Both the quantity and quality of contact a student has with a college that indicates the student's perceived likelihood to enroll should he or she be offered admission to a college.

Demonstrated need
The difference between a family's contribution as determined on the Expected Family Contribution form and the total cost of attending a college.

Denial of admission letter
A formal acknowledgment by a college that a student has not been admitted.

Disadvantaged student
A student who has not had access to the education, background, resources and services that many other students usually have.

Distance learning
A range of non-traditional learning experiences including correspondence courses, audio-based courses (including radio, telephone, audiocassette and audio-conference), video-based courses (including broadcast and cable television, satellite, videoconference, video cassettes and DVD's), and computer/Internet based courses.

Distribution requirements
Courses required by a college or university in order to graduate.




Early Action (EA)
In this non-binding application program, students usually apply before the first or fifteenth of November, and receive their admission decision by the middle of December. If accepted, students are not obligated to commit to attending the college until the usual May 1 response deadline.

Early Action Single Choice (a.k.a. Restricted Early Action)
A non-binding early admission option for freshman applicants offered by such colleges as Stanford universities in which a student may not apply to any other type of early action, early decision or early notification program. Candidates are asked to sign a statement along with their parents and high school counselor stipulating that they agree to file only one early application.

Early Decision (ED)
In this binding contract application program, students apply by the first or fifteenth of November, and receive their admission decision by the middle of December. If accepted, students are obligated to attend the college.

Early Decision II (EDII)
A few colleges offer a second round of Early Decision with due dates in the first part of January and notification usually within six weeks. These are also binding contract programs. Again, students may also be denied or deferred.

Educational Opportunity Program (EOP)
A program offered by many colleges to disadvantaged, under-represented minority and first-generation college students involving admissions, academic support services, and financial aid.

Educational Testing Service (ETS)
The affiliate of the College Entrance Examination Board that develops and administers college entrance tests.

A high school or college course that a student may take, but which is not required to graduate.

Expected Family Contribution (EFC)
The amount of college costs a family is expected to pay for one year of college as determined by the FAFSA or PROFILE.

Extracurricular activities
Any formal or informal involvements pursued by students during high school in addition to their regular classes and home work, including sports, volunteer and/or paid work, hobbies, travel, artistic or musical interests, etc. either in or outside of school.





Fair Test (The National Center for Fair & Open Testing)
Fair Test is a non-profit organization that advances quality education and equal opportunity in schools, including promoting test score optional policies for college admission. Their website lists all colleges who are test optional.

Family Financial Statement (FFS)
The financial statement provided by the ACT.

Fee waiver
An exemption given by a college to disadvantaged students from paying a college application fee.

Financial Aid package
The amount of financial aid offered to a student by a college that may include grants, loans, and a work-study job.

Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)
A financial aid form provided by the federal government that is required by most colleges and universities of students seeking scholarships, grants, loans or work-study jobs.





Gap year
A break in schooling that some students take between high school graduation and their first year of college.

General Education requirements (Breadth requirements)
Usually required during the first two years of college, a list of courses from various academic departments that a student must take in order to graduate.

Good Chance Schools
Colleges at which you have a 50% or better chance of being admitted.

Grade Point Average (GPA)
A student's average grade, usually on a four point scale:A = 4, B = 3, C = 2, D = 1, F = 0.

Graduate student
A student studying at a university for a post-undergraduate degree such as a Master's or Ph.D.

Greek system
Referring to fraternities and sororities on a college campus. The term, "Greek" comes from the Greek letters used as names for the organizations (e.g., Delta Gamma, Sigma Chi).





Hard-copy application
A college's own paper application.

High school counselor (also called college counselor, guidance counselor, college adviser)
A school official hired to provide a variety of functions including scheduling of classes, taking care of student disciplinary issues, college counseling, and completing application Secondary School Report forms.

Honors courses
Usually first level advanced courses available to high school students, often before AP courses.

Relating to courses offered in the study of art, philosophy, foreign languages, religion and literature.





Impacted major or program
A college major or program that is so popular that requirements for being accepted into it may be more stringent than other majors. Among the majors that are often impacted are architecture, business, computer science, engineering, and film.

Independent counselors
Private, paid counselors who provide high school students with admissions information, advice and coaching.

Instant Decision
An admissions process in which a few colleges, including Bard College, invite seniors to send in their applications, visit the campus for a day, go through interviews, and at the end of the day receive their respective admissions decision.

International student
As defined by colleges, a student who does not hold a US passport or green card, nor is he or she a permanent resident of the US.

Interdisciplinary major
Often created by students, a combined major between similar or dissimilar departments such as a language and business, psychology and math, history and political science.

International Baccalaureate (IB)
A highly academic program of courses, similar to AP, offered by some high schools in which students can earn advanced standing in many US colleges and universities.

Ivy League (or the Ivies)
A group of highly prestigious colleges in the eastern part of the U.S., including Brown, Columbia, Cornell, Dartmouth, Harvard, the University of Pennsylvania, Princeton and Yale.





Language requirement
A requirement by some colleges to take a minimum number of foreign language classes and/or pass a foreign language test in order to graduate from the college.

A college applicant whose parents and/or grandparents have attended a specific college, which sometimes gives them an edge in admissions.

Learning disability
A disorder in one of more of the basic psychological processes involved in understanding or using language, spoken or written, which may manifest itself in an imperfect ability to listen, think, speak, read, write, spell, or to do mathematical calculations.

Letters of Recommendation
Sometimes required, sometimes not, letters (or forms) written by high school counselors, teachers and other interested parties on behalf of high school students.

Liberal arts (arts and sciences)
Academic courses such as found in the humanities, social sciences, natural sciences, mathematics, foreign languages and the arts.

Liberal arts college
A college on its own or as a part of a larger university that focuses on the liberal arts.

Lower Division
Courses usually completed during the first two years of college.





An academic subject such as History, Biology or Political Science around which a college student primarily focuses a concentration of his or her coursework.

Master's Degree
An academic degree given by a university to students who usually complete at least one year of prescribed courses beyond a bachelor's degree.

The middle scores of a group of scores.

Median 25th–75th SAT scores for a college
The middle 50% of SAT scores achieved by a college's most recent freshman class.

Merit scholarship
A financial grant unrelated to financial need given to a student by a college for academic achievement, special skill or activities.

An academic subject of secondary concentration around which a college student focuses coursework.

In college admissions, usually referring to individuals from of African-American, Native American, and Hispanic-American backgrounds.





National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC)
The professional organization to which college admissions personnel, high school college counselors and independent, private college counselors belong.

National Hispanic Recognition Program (NHRP)
Based on PSAT scores, every year the National Hispanic Recognition Program recognizes 4000 academically talented students of Hispanic origin. After initial qualification, 2 percent of students of Hispanic origin are designated as Scholars or Honorable Mentions. To qualify, a student must have at least one parent who is 100% Hispanic (a person of Mexican-American, Puerto Rican, Cuban, Central or South American, or other Spanish cultures–but not Brazilian or Portuguese).

National Merit Scholarship
When students take the PSAT in their junior year, their scores may qualify them for recognition or scholarships by the National Merit Program. About 34,000 students receive Letters of Commendation, 16,000 qualify as Semifinalists, and 15,000 then go on to be Finalists. About 8,000 students are chosen to be become Merit Scholarship winners.

Need-blind admissions
A college admissions term to explain that a particular school does not take into account a student's ability to pay in making admissions decisions.





On-line application
Applying to a college by filling out an application that is sent electronically to the college.

Open admission
A college policy that any student with a high school diploma is accepted for admission, usually available at community colleges in the US.





An option available at some colleges in which a course may be taken for a pass or fail grade, rather than a letter grade.

The pre-ACT test, much like the PSAT.

Pre-admit days and/or events
College-sponsored events held on campus or at alumni homes for admitted students to hear about the merits of attending the college.

Preliminary SAT (PSAT)
Offered by the College Board every October to juniors, this is a preliminary SAT I test, the scores of which can qualify a student for a National Merit Scholarship.

Courses, test scores, and/or grade level that a student must complete before being allowed to take certain specific courses.

Pretty Sure Thing Schools
Colleges at which you have a 75% or better chance of being admitted.

Private colleges and universities
Higher education institutions not supported by public funds.

A financial aid form provided by the College Board and required by many selective colleges for students seeking financial aid.

Public colleges
Higher education institutions supported by state and local taxes.





Quarter system
An academic calendar in which the year is divided into four terms—three regular quarters and one summer quarter, approximately 10 weeks in length.





Reach schools
Colleges at which you have less than 50% chance of being admitted.

Recruited athlete
An exceptional student athlete who is recruited by one or more college coaches to be a member of his athletic team, sometimes with scholarship implications.

Rejection letter
When a college informs an applicant that he or she has not been accepted for admission.

Reserve Officers' Training Corps (ROTC)
Offered by some colleges, a military training program that accompanies academic work and culminating in an military officer commission, often involving a scholarship that pays part or full college costs and. A minimum military obligation after college is a part of the contract.

Resident adviser
A college student personnel officer, graduate or upper-class student who lives in a dormitory to support and advise the dorm residents.

Residential college
A living/learning community within a college housed in one residence that offers special academic and/or theme programs to its residents.

Rolling admission
An application program at some colleges, notably larger public universities, in which applications are accepted, evaluated and decided upon as they are received (from as early as September until a final deadline sometime in the spring).





Formerly known as SAT I, a widely used college admissions entrance test offered seven times a year in the US and six times overseas that includes Critical Reading, Mathematics and Writing sections scored on a scale of 200-800. A total perfect score is 2400.

Subject Test
Formerly known as SAT II tests (and before that Achievement tests), 20 tests offered six times a year in five general subject areas including English, History and Social Studies, Mathematics, Science and Languages with a possible perfect score of 800 each.

Semester system
An calendar used by most universities in which the academic year is divided into two terms, usually 17-18 weeks long.

Services for Students with Disabilities (SSD)
A special program offered by the College Board and ACT for students with chronic conditions that might prevent them from taking a test in the way non-disabled students can. Includes Attention Deficit Disorder, certain diseases and conditions such as diabetes, deafness or hard-of-hearing problems, learning disabilities, physical handicaps, and blindness or vision problems.

Social sciences
College courses in such subject areas as anthropology, economics, political science, psychology and sociology.

Solid courses
College preparatory courses that help make a student eligible for college admission.

Special talent
Any interest, sport, art and/or activity in which a student has demonstrated unusual ability, talent or achievement.

Student Aid Report (SAR)
A form sent to a student and his or her family after filing the FAFSA form indicating what the expected family contribution is likely to be for college costs.





Teaching Assistant
A graduate student who teaches undergraduate courses at a university, and/or holds small discussion sections for a professor's large lecture class.

Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL)
Offered by Educational Testing Service (ETS), an English exam required of foreign students as a part of their admissions application.

The official high school record of a student's courses and grades received.

A calendar year for a college that is divided into three terms of about three months each, including a summer session.

The fees charged by a college on a quarterly, semester or trimester basis for academic instruction and some activities and services.





A college student who is in the process of completing a four-year educational program leading to a bachelor's degree.

Un-weighted grades
The treatment given a student's grades in which no extra points are added for Honors, and/or AP, and/or IB courses.

Upper Division course
Advanced courses usually taken during a student's junior and senior years.





A listing of applicants colleges keep to whom admittance might be granted should admitted students turn them down.

Weighted grades
The treatment given a student's grades in which extra points are added for Honors, and/or AP and/or IB courses.

A federally funded program that makes part-time work on campus available to students as a part of their financial aid package.





Yield rate
The percentage of accepted applicants who actually enroll in a college compared to the number of acceptances offered.




If you want to know more about this and other admissions topics, read
Getting into the Best Colleges for you
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