College-Related Terms to Know

Sometimes researching and/or applying to a college can seem overwhelming.  Especially when they use what seems like this whole other language when writing the handbook.  This list is comprised of terms that may be new and/or confusing to someone who is unfamiliar with the college jargon.  Hopefully this list will be helpful in clarifying some of these terms or phrases.

*Please note:  This is a general list of definitions.  Terms may vary depending on the college.  Check with the college you will be attending because they will ultimately decide what each of these words mean!

1. Accredited - a college that is ACCREDITED maintains certain standards for its graduates that others recognize as respectable.  It is one way for an employer to determine the level of preparation the graduate has had in college.

2. Add/Drop - This term refers to schedule changes.  If you find that you have registered for a class that you do not want to take, you may go to the REGISTRAR’S OFFICE to DROP the course.  If you wish to take a course that you did not register for already, you may ADD the course.  *Pay attention to deadlines when deciding to ADD or DROP a class, it could save you a lot of hassle and A LOT OF MONEY!*

3. Advisor - All full-time students have an ADVISOR.  This person is much like a high school guidance counselor.  You may go to them with ANY questions you might have.

4. Associate’s Degree - This degree traditionally involves 2 years of full-time study.  Usually, 60-65 CREDIT HOURS are completed before receiving this degree.

5. Bachelor's Degree - This degree traditionally involves 4 years of full-time study.  Colleges, although each varies depending on the program, require the student to complete a minimum of 120 CREDIT HOURS.

6. Commencement - This is another word for "graduation day."  It is the ceremony that is held by the college that recognizes your accomplishments.

7. Concentration - this term relates to MAJOR or MINOR.  A CONCENTRATION is an area of interest that a student may decide to take additional courses in.  Some colleges offer the option of recognizing this area as a CONCENTRATION, while others do not.  Usually, this term will be seen with Elementary Education MAJORS because they are usually given the option to choose a CONCENTRATION.  For example, a CONCENTRATION in Mathematics or American Studies may be chosen with a degree in Elementary Education.

8. Course Catalog/Viewbook/Handbook - Each of these terms is used interchangeably.  The purpose of the CATALOG is to give an overview of each program, briefly describe each course, outline the degree requirements for each program, overview the financial aid available to incoming students, etc.  (Some CATALOGS offer more information.)

9. Credit Hour(s) - Each course has a certain number of CREDIT HOURS.  Classes can be anywhere from 1-6 CREDIT HOURS.  *Make note that you are charged per CREDIT HOUR.*

10. Department Chair (Chairperson) - This person is the head of a department.  They oversee everything that goes on in that department.  The CHAIRPERSON is not necessarily someone that you will need to talk to during the application process.  Unless you are directed to the CHAIRPERSON of a particular department, you do not need to concern yourself with him/her.

11. Distance Learning - Some colleges offer this option while others do not. If you are unable to get to a college campus, this might be the program for you.  For more information, click HERE.

12. FAFSA - Federal Application For Student Aid; a form that the government uses to determine the amount of money a person is eligible to receive.  This is not necessarily the amount of money a college will give that person.  Occasionally, he/she will be eligible for more aid depending on what each college has to offer.  (click HERE to read about Financial Aid.)

13. GPA - Grade Point Average; Usually on a 4.0 scale with A=4.0, B=3.0, C=2.0, D=1.0, F=0.0; students receive a grade for each class (unless Pass/Fail option listed below) and an accumulative GPA for the entire time they have taken classes.

14. ITV Classes - Instructional Television Classes are part of what is known as DISTANCE LEARNING.  They allow universities to offer classes they would not normally be able to because ITV teachers only teach at ONE college.  From this college, they are videotaped and watched by students at many other colleges.  When it comes time to decide which classes you will register for, check to see if any of your classes are ITV CLASSES.  This style of teaching does not work best for all students.  If you are concerned with this, talk to your ADVISOR to decide the best plan of action.

15. Major - The field in which a student chooses to study is called his/her MAJOR.  MAJORING in a particular area of interest requires that you complete a specified number of CREDIT HOURS in that area.  To see how many CREDIT HOURS are necessary at the college of your choice, see the course CATALOG.

16. Matriculated vs. Non-matriculated - A MATRICULATED student is one who has been accepted into a degree program.  This is different than a NON-MATRICULATED student who is simply taking classes, but is not working toward a degree.

17. Minor - A field of study that a student chooses to focus on.  Much like a MAJOR, to have a MINOR recognized on a TRANSCRIPT, a specified number of CREDIT HOURS must be satisfied.  Depending in the area of interest, the number of CREDIT HOURS varies (see the course CATALOG).

18. Pass/Fail Option - The PASS/FAIL OPTION refers to the grade you will receive in a class.  Instead of receiving a letter grade, you will receive a PASS or FAIL.  The advantage to this option is that the PASS or FAIL does NOT affect your GPA.  For instance, if there is a class that you are worried about getting a C- in, which might drop your GPA from a 3.1 to a 2.8, you may have the option of taking it PASS/FAIL.  Since a C- is a passing grade, you would get a PASS and receive credit for the course without the consequence of your GPA dropping.

19. Recommendations - When it comes time to apply to a college, one of the requirements might be RECOMMENDATIONS from employers or teachers.  A RECOMMENDATION is simply a letter that states that the person applying to the college is capable of doing the required work.

20. Transcript - A TRANSCRIPT is a record of a student's college grades as well as any scores from SAT or GRE tests.  When a student graduates, he/she has one TRANSCRIPT from each college attended.

21. Transfer Agreements - a TRANSFER AGREEMENT is an agreement between two colleges that says the college you are transferring TO will accept the credit hours you have earned at the college you are transferring FROM.  This contract is made between individual colleges.  For more information, contact the college's ADMISSIONS OFFICE or see the COURSE CATALOG.  You can also check THE POST SECONDARY GUIDE OF MAINE located in the Adult Basic Education office.

22. Withdrawal - As a student, you may drop a class at any time during the semester.  This is called WITHDRAWING from the course.  The policy differs for each college, so if this is something you need information about, refer to the COURSE CATALOG/ VIEWBOOK for your college.  *Also note that WITHDRAWING from a course means that you lose the money you have paid for that course.*

23. Work-Study - WORK-STUDY is a federal program that every college has available to students with financial need (based on the FAFSA you file).  A certain number of jobs are set aside for students to work on campus.  The amount of money you may earn is limited.  One student may make $2,000 while another may be limited to $1,600.  It is given to the student on a weekly or bi-weekly basis depending on the college's pay schedule.  To learn more about WORK STUDY, click HERE.