Roadmap to College: Glossary (page 6)
Here is a list of the different terms you are likely to come across as you navigate the world of college admissions. The terms are listed alphabetically with related explanations provided for your reference.
504 Plan A plan, developed by school professionals under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of the Americans with Disabilities Act, designed to give students with disabilities needed modifications and accommodations.
Achievement Test A test designed to assess information learned in a specific curriculum. The concepts measured are usually content-specific and more factual rather than abstract.
ACT The ACT is one of the tests used to assess college readiness. It is composed of English, reading, math, and science sections and an optional writing section. Each section is scored from 1 to 36 with a composite score from 1 to 36.
Advanced Placement (AP) The Advanced Placement program and tests developed by the College Board. Many high schools offer AP courses and students take AP exams (scored on a scale from 1 to 5) in May for potential college credit. AP courses are usually challenging courses, and colleges look favorably upon students who take them.
Aptitude Test A test designed to measure future potential; the concepts tested are usually more abstract.
Block Schedule A type of course programming used in high schools where classes do not meet every day but meet for longer periods of time a few times a week. One of the benefits of block scheduling is longer class periods with intense focus.
Brag Sheet Also known as an extracurricular activities sheet or a resume, the brag list highlights students’ achievements inside and outside of school. See also Extracurricular Activities List and Résumé.
Campus Visit A trip taken by many students to tour a campus before they apply to determine if the school has the right “vibe” and is a good match for them.
Career Assessment Online or paper and pencil assessments used to measure preferences for certain careers or jobs based on a student’s self assessment of his or her personality.
Class Rank A comparative rating measurement used by some high schools to rank students’ performance in the senior class, either with a weighted or an unweighted grade point average.
College Admissions Counselor/Officer Professionals who work in the college admissions office of a college or university. They read students’ applications and recruit students by visiting high schools and participating in college fairs around the country.
College Level Course These courses are offered in high schools, usually in conjunction with a local college or university. Students may pay lower tuition for these courses and receive college credits when they enter college.
College Level Examination Program (CLEP) A testing program administered by the College Board, which is used to grant college credit in 34 areas.
College Preparatory Classes Courses offered in high school to prepare students for college level work. These courses are usually in English, science, social studies, foreign language, and math.
College Rankings Published rankings of colleges developed by various media, including
US News and World Report, Business Week, and Forbes. Various criteria are used to evaluate colleges.
College Savings Program Various programs used by families to save money for college, including 529 plans and prepaid tuition programs.
Common Application A centralized application for students to use to apply to member colleges that promote holistic review of applications. Students can apply online or on paper.
Common Data Set Statistics provided on a university’s Web site, which includes useful information about admissions data.
Community College A two-year college with low tuition, where students can obtain an associate’s degree and transfer with credits to a four-year college.
Commuter College Sometimes referred to as a suitcase college, it is a college setting where students typically commute between home and the campus. The college may have dorms for residential students, but most students do not live on campus.
Conditional Acceptance This type of acceptance is granted to students who do not meet the stated requirements of the college but are admitted to college with conditions, including reduced course load, probation, or meetings with academic advisors.
Content-Based Test A test based on the curriculum learned in class. Assessments are objective and students can usually prepare for these tests by reviewing the curriculum.
Co-operative (co-op) Program A program offered by colleges and universities where the emphasis is placed on internships or on-the-job learning experiences.
Core Curriculum Mandatory courses in specific areas or in specific classes students are required to take in order to meet graduation requirements. Some colleges have many core requirements and other colleges have fewer core requirements.
Cost of Attendance (COA) The cost of attending college, including tuition, room and board, travel, personal expenses, books, and fees. The cost of attending a private university is usually higher than that associated with attending a public university.
CSS (College Scholarship Service)/Profile In addition to the FAFSA, some colleges require a more detailed financial aid document known as the CSS/Profile.
Deferred Admission An admission plan where students who apply for early decision but are not offered admission may be moved or deferred to the regular decision pool for another review.
Demonstrated Interest One indicator used by colleges to determine how interested applicants are in enrolling in their college. Demonstrated interest can be assessed through various contacts with the admissions office, including requesting information, campus tours, and contact with the admissions representative.
Double/Multiple Depositing Practice of students sending a deposit to more than one college. According to NACAC’s Statement of Ethical Practices, students should send only one deposit to a college by May 1.
Early Action An admission plan where students apply by a college’s stated deadline in the fall. Admission decisions are usually given to students in January/February, and students have until May 1 to decide to enroll. Early Action is not a binding commitment.
Early Decision An admission plan where students apply by a college’s stated deadline, usually in November or December. Admission decisions are usually given to students in mid December, and the student signs a contract saying they will attend the school if they are accepted. Early Decision is a binding commitment.
Electronic Portfolio Additional application documents that students submit online to a college, including art, creative writing, photos, and other materials.
Expected Family Contribution (EFC) An important number received after completing the FAFSA. The EFC is used to determine what types of financial aid students qualify for.
Extracurricular Activities List Also known as a brag sheet or a resume, this list is used to record students’ extracurricular activities and leadership positions. See also Brag Sheet and Résumé.
Facebook A social networking site on the Web used to communicate with people and to post photos and other personal information. Students need to be careful what they are posting on this site, as prospective colleges and employers periodically scan these Web sites for inappropriate material.
FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) A free government online or paper application used to determine students’ eligibility for financial aid. The Web site is www.fafsa.ed.gov.
Federal Pell Grant A grant available through the federal government for students who meet the minimum requirements. Pell Grants do not have to be paid back.
Federal Perkins Loans A loan available from the federal government to students who meet minimum requirements. Federal Perkins Loans must be paid back.
Federal PLUS Loans Loans parents can take out to use for college tuition and expenses, which have to be paid back.
Federal Stafford Loans Loans, subsidized and unsubsidized, which students can take out to use for college tuition and expenses. These loans are offered at varying interest rates, and the money borrowed needs to be paid back.
Financial Aid A broad term used to refer to grants, loans, and work study which students may be eligible to receive in order to pay for college and related expenses. Students and/or their families need to complete a FAFSA to determine their eligibility for various federal, state, or college-related programs. See also FAFSA.
Financial Aid Package Students receive this package after completing the FAFSA and the CSS/Profile or a college’s own financial aid form (if required). A financial aid package describes what funds students will receive from a college to meet college tuition and expenses. Packages will vary by college and may include funds from loans, grants, scholarships, and work study.
Gap Year A year some students take after graduation from high school where they may travel, work, volunteer, study abroad, or conduct research. Most colleges allow students to defer their acceptance for one year in order to participate in worthy gap programs.
Gender Gap A known gap or imbalance in the number of males and females attending college. It is not uncommon to find a female/male ratio of 60 to 40 on many college campuses.
General Education Requirements The minimum requirements needed by students to graduate from college. Some colleges have heavy-duty core requirements, whereas others have fewer mandatory course requirements. These requirements can be checked during the college application process so students are informed about what courses they will need to take in college.
Grade Point Average (GPA) A student’s academic average during high school. Some schools use a weighted GPA, where an extra weight is given for honors, college level, IB, or AP courses; other schools use an unweighted average, where all classes are equally weighted.
Grants Grants are a form of financial aid which do not have to be paid back. Grants can be awarded by the federal or state government, or by individual colleges.
Greek Life A term used to describe sorority (girls) or fraternity (boys) life. Some colleges have many students participating in Greek life, while others have few students participating in Greek life.
Guidance Counselor A school professional who counsels students on social, personal, and academic issues, including the college application process.
Highly Likely School Formerly known as a “safety school,” a highly likely school is a college where a student has more than the minimum requirements needed to gain admission.
Holistic Approach An approach used by colleges to evaluate whether students will gain admission to their college, including objective (GPA, standardized test scores, difficulty of courses taken) and subjective (essay, letters of recommendation, resume, interview, demonstrated interest) factors.
Honors Program Many colleges offer an honors program for students who have exceeded the minimum requirements needed for admission. Some honors programs offer perks including scholarships, special seminars, laptops, and priority registration.
International Baccalaureate (IB) A rigorous and prestigious program where students take rigorous courses for two years and may receive college credit.
Individual Education Plan (IEP) A plan created by professionals for students with physical and learning disabilities. The plan spells out educational goals, proper placement, and modifications and accommodations needed for the student, which may include extended time, testing in a special location, and use of a computer.
Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) A law developed to ensure that students with disabilities receive education and support services. See also Section 504 Plan.
Internship A paid or unpaid placement with a professional in an area of interest where the student can learn about the job and gain valuable experience.
Ivy League A group of eight prestigious colleges in the Northeast consisting of Harvard, Princeton, Yale, University of Pennsylvania, Columbia, Brown, Dartmouth, and Cornell. Many families place a high value on these “name brand” colleges.
Learning Disability A neurological disorder that causes difficulty in certain areas. The most common learning disabilities are dyslexia, dyscalculia, dysgraphia, auditory and visual processing disorders, and nonverbal learning disabilities. Support services may be available in college for students who must advocate for themselves.
Legacy Admissions A criterion giving students whose mother or father attended an undergraduate college or university an advantage in the admissions process.
Loans A form of financial aid given to students and/or parents. Loans need to be paid back to the lender, which could be the federal government or a private lender.
Major An area of study selected by a student by the end of their second year of college. Many students enter college with an undecided major; others know what they want to study before they enter college.
Midyear Report Requested by many colleges, this report is used to review midyear grades from seniors to ensure that students are maintaining their academic performance.
Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) A personality assessment developed by Katharine Briggs and Isabel Briggs Myers based on the works of Carl Jung.
National Association of College Admissions Counselors (NACAC) A national organization for college admissions counselors, guidance counselors, and private consultants which provides research and resources to students, parents, and counselors related to the college admissions process.
National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) An organization which provides information, guidelines, and an eligibility center for student athletes to be recruited by colleges to play competitive sports.
Need The formula for calculating financial need is the Cost of Attendance minus the Expected Family Contribution (EFC), as determined by the FAFSA.
Need Blind A policy used by some colleges where financial need is not taken into account when reviewing students’ college applications.
Need Sensitive/Aware A policy used by some colleges where financial need may be taken into account when reviewing students’ college applications. Some colleges meet 100 percent of a student’s need and other colleges may not meet a student’s full need.
Objective Factors Objective factors in the admissions process include GPA, difficulty of courses taken by students, and standardized test scores.
Personal Identification Number (PIN) A number selected or chosen for students and their families when completing a FAFSA. The PIN can be used as an electronic signature on the FAFSA and other documents.
Personal Interview Some colleges offer interviews as one of the subjective factors considered in the admissions process. Interviews may be conducted by admissions officers, alumni, or students.
Personal Statement The long essay on most college applications where students can discuss information not found in the rest of the application. The essay is an opportunity for students to demonstrate their passion and their personality, as well as their fit for a particular college or university.
Priority Application An application with no fee required that is sent to students who have requested information from a college or whose credentials are appealing to a college. It is a way for colleges to increase their pool of applicants.
Private University A school that is privately funded with endowments from alumni and organizations. The cost of tuition is usually higher than at a publicly funded college.
Public Ivy A public university that is highly selective and is ranked just below an Ivy League school. These schools offer great value. Some of the public Ivies are the University of Michigan, University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA), University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Binghamton University, and the State University of New York.
Public University Many states have a university system with colleges that are publicly funded, and these schools provide a solid education at a good value.
QuestBridge Application QuestBridge is an application program for highly selective universities with major scholarships offered to qualified candidates with low family incomes. A separate application process is used for this highly selective program.
Reach School A reach or dream school is a highly desirable school, where many applicants have similar qualifications, but not all students can be offered admission. It is highly possible the student may not be accepted for admission, as the competition for spots in the class is fierce.
Regular Decision An admission plan where students apply by a published deadline. Students usually receive a decision by April and have until May 1 to make a decision as to where they will attend college.
Rejection A possible negative outcome when applying to a college or university, especially if students apply to a highly competitive school or to one where their qualifications are below the stated admission requirements.
Rescind A college may withdraw or rescind its offer of admission to students who have not maintained their senior grades or who have had infractions such as lying on the application, cheating, drinking, drugs, double depositing, or other issues. An offer of admission is always contingent upon successful completion of senior year.
Restrictive Early Action An early admission plan where students can apply early action with no commitment to attend, but there are some restrictions on where else you can apply to college. Stanford, Yale, and Boston College are some of the colleges that have some type of restrictions on applying early action.
Résumé A format used to describe extracurricular activities you participate in during high school. It lists your activities, dates involved, positions held, and any honors received.
Rolling Admission A type of admission plan where colleges evaluate applications as they come in. It is suggested that students apply early in the process to these schools, as spaces fill up early and admission standards may be more difficult later in the process.
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