User's Guide

Dictionary of University Application and Academic Terms

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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 Record

Academic information kept on file by the school. This record includes transcripts of grades, test scores, and related academic materials.

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.

Academic year

The time during which a school, college or university holds classes. These divisions may be called terms.


American College Test. ACT is a standardized test that measures students’ ability in English, mathematics, reading, and reasoning. ACT is used as one test for eligibility to university admission.

Admission Test

A standardized test used in the admission process to predict the likelihood of a student’s success in college.


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


Advanced Placement (test). A standardized test designed for students who have completed college-level work in high school. AP tests are given in specific subject areas and are used to determine if a student may gain advanced standing and/or college credit.

Application Deadline

The date, set by college admissions offices, after which applications for admission will not be accepted.

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 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).


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.

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Bachelor's Degree

An academic degree awarded for an undergraduate course or major that generally lasts for three or four years.

Bachelor’s Degree Also called a baccalaureate degree

A four-year degree for study in specific subjects. A Bachelor of Arts (BA) usually requires a foreign language; a Bachelor of Science (BS) includes more science and math, and a Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) emphasizes fine and applied arts.


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.

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Career Choice

Student-supplied information to indicate career field for selected major.


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.


Recognition provided to a student for completion of short-term vocational or career training programs, usually a year or less in length.

Class Rank

A student’s approximate standing in his or her graduating class. Rank is based on grade point average and presented either in “percentiles” (such as “upper fifth”) or numerical order (such as 72nd in a class of 410).


College Level Examination Program. CLEP 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.


A postsecondary educational institution where students study to earn two- or four-year undergraduate degrees.

College Admission Counselor

A professional educator employed by a college or university to assist students with the admission process, exploration of educational options, and the transition from high school to postsecondary education.

College Preparatory Courses

High school courses that provide students with the knowledge and skills required to do college-level study.

College Visit

On-site visit by student to a college or university campus to observe first-hand the academics, student life, and related campus features. Students may visit independently or as part of an Open House.

Community Colleges

Public educational institutions that offer certificate programs (one year) and associate degrees (two years). Students may transfer from a community college to a four-year school.

Community Service:

is donated service or activity that is performed by someone or a group of people for the benefit of the public or its institutions.

Credit Hour

A unit of academic credit that often represents one hour of class time per week for a period of study (semester, quarter, etc.).


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.

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Deferred Admission

The practice by some colleges of allowing an accepted student to postpone enrollment for one year


An academic award for completion of a course or major.

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.


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.


A document issued by a school, college, or university to students who have met coursework and graduation requirements for a degree


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.

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An optional course that a student may take to meet total graduation requirements but that is not required for the student’s program of study.

Eligibility Exams

Standardized tests used by colleges and universities to measure eligibility to college and university admission. Eligibility exams include language tests such as ToEFL/IELTS, SAT/AP, GRE, GMAT, and other standardized tests.

Eligible noncitizen

Reside in the U.S. for other than a temporary purpose and intend to become (or have become) a permanent resident of the U.S.


The English Language Proficiency Entrance Test. A standardized English language test designed to fulfill the English language proficiency measurement and placement required for admission to the American University in Cairo (AUC).


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 Documents

Additional documents submitted to meet a specific scholarship requirement.

Extracurricular Activity

Any school activity, such as athletics, drama, or music, that offers the student the opportunity to complement his or her classroom experiences.

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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 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.


Money granted (by a university or foundation or other agency) for advanced study or research

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 (or Assistance)

Any financial award given to a student. It may be in the form of a grant, scholarship, work-study job or loan.

First-time freshman

An applicant who has not yet attended college after graduating from high school.

Four-year colleges/universities

Public, nonprofit, or for-profit institutions that offer academic degrees in undergraduate and/or postgraduate education (for example, bachelor's, master, or doctorate degree).

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.

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Graduate Management Admissions Test. A standardized tests that assesses a person's analytical, writing, quantitative, verbal, and reading skills in standard written English in preparation for being admitted into a graduate management program, such as an MBA.


Grade Point Average. GPA is the measure of a student's academic achievement; calculated by dividing the total number of grade points received by the total number attempted.

Graduate student

An applicant who has or will have earned a bachelor’s degree prior to the start of fall term/semester of the application year and will be taking graduate-level classes in the application year.

Graduating senior

An applicant who plans to (or has) graduate from high school prior to the fall term/semester of the application year. This can include high school juniors who will graduate early and those who graduated prior to the application deadline but during the current academic year.


A sum of money provided by a government, local authority, or public fund to finance educational study, overseas aid, etc.

GRE (Graduate Record Examinations)

An examination administered to graduates of institutions of higher learning. The scores are used as criteria for admission to master's and doctoral programs in many institutions and areas of specialization. The examination tests verbal and mathematical aptitudes and abilities

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High School

High school student attended.

Higher Education

Higher, post-secondary, tertiary, or third level education refers to the stage of learning that occurs at universities, academies, colleges, seminaries, and institutes of technology. Higher education also includes certain collegiate-level institutions, such as vocational schools, trade schools, and career colleges, that award academic degrees or professional certifications .

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.

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International English Language Testing System. A standardized English language test, administered by the University of Cambridge, UK. IELTS is the British English language test equivalent to ToEFL.


Student internships provide opportunities for students to gain experience in their field, determine if they have an interest in a particular career, create a network of contacts, or gain school credit. An internship may be paid, unpaid or partially paid


Face-to-face conversation (individual or group) between a prospective student and the admission representative(s) of a college or university.


Intelligence Quotient. IQ is a score derived from one of several different standardized tests designed to assess intelligence. Usually, IQ test is not required for admission to college or university.

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Last and First Name

Students are listed by last name. The list may be alphabetical but more likely will be by GPA or college year.

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.

Legal name

A person’s name given at birth or that has been declared the person's name by a court.

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.

Liberal Arts

A course of studies in college that provides a well-rounded education in the arts, sciences, and the humanities as well as career courses.


Money borrowed to pay for college expenses. Loans must be repaid, usually with interest.

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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.


authoritatively ordered; obligatory; compulsory .

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.

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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.

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Official transcript

Institution certified statement of your academic record.

Open Admission

Some colleges offer admission to all students who apply. Such colleges usually have extensive programs designed to provide remedial or developmental help to students who enroll with academic deficiencies.

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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.

Personal Portfolio:

The purpose of the Personal Portfolio is to organize one’s life experience into a single document that the admissions office can use to evaluate the applicant and assign credit as appropriate. (It can also be used for submission to prospective employers or for consulting work).

Personal Statement/Essay

Personal statements are required in some scholarship applications. The scholarship selection committees use these statements as a tool to choose the right scholarship recipient.


The stage of learning that occurs after high school at universities, academies, colleges, seminaries, and institutes of technology.

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 .

Proprietary Institution

A for-profit school often specializing in technology-related fields or trades such as beautician or barber.

PSAT/NMSQT (Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test

The PSAT/NMSQT is a practice test designed to prepare high school juniors for the SAT and is used in the awarding of National Merit Scholarships. Colleges do not often use the PSAT scores as admission criteria.

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Recommendation Letter / Reference Letter

is a letter in which the writer assesses the qualities, characteristics, and capabilities of the person being recommended in terms of that individual’s ability to perform a particular task or function. They are almost always specifically requested to be written about someone, and therefore addressed to a particular requestor. It is typically related to employment, admissions to institutions of higher education or scholarship eligibility.


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.

Regular Decision

A term that describes a traditional college application process in which an institution reviews most of its applications prior to notifying the majority of its candidates.

Rolling Admission

A term that describes an application process in which an institution reviews applications as they are received and offers decisions to students as applications are reviewed.

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SAT (Scholastic Aptitude Test)

A standardized admission test used by college and university admission offices to determine a student’s success in college, based on the student’s English, mathematics, reading, and reasoning skills.

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.


A grant of financial aid awarded to a student, as for the purpose of attending a college


Social Security Number. Nine-digit number issued to U.S. citizens, permanent residents, and temporary (working) residents under section 205©(2) of the Social Security Act.

Standardized Tests

Tests such as the ACT and SAT that provide college admission officers with a comparative standard for evaluating a student’s academic aptitude and likelihood of successes in college. See Eligibility Exams.

State of legal residence

The state of your fixed and permanent residence.

Student ID

Student Identification Card. 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 requires 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.


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.

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A division of an academic year.


Test of English as a Foreign Language. A standardized English language test given worldwide to determine a student’s ability to function in an English-speaking classroom environment. The test is used for undergraduate, as well as graduate, admission.


The official record of a student’s high school or college coursework and grades. A transcript is usually required as part of the college admission process.

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.


The cost for attending classes at a college, university, or vocational school. Tuition does not include room and board.


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.

Two-year colleges

See Community Colleges.

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Undergraduate Degrees

Two-year (Associate’s) or four-year (Bachelor’s) degrees.

Undergraduate student

An applicant who has earned college credit after graduating from high school, and will not have earned a bachelor’s degree prior to the start of fall term/semester of the application year.


An institution, which may be the same as a college, but that usually offers both graduate and undergraduate degrees, as well as research facilities.

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Vocational/Technical Education

A program of study designed to train students for a particular occupation, business, or trade.

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Wait List

A term used by institutions to describe a process in which the institution does not initially offer or deny admission, but extends to a candidate the possibility of admission in the future.


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.

Work Study

A financial aid program that allows a student to work on-campus or with approved off-campus employers to earn money to pay for college expenses.

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Year in College

The year in college the student expects to enter in the coming academic year.