College Jargon

Faculty and staff at colleges and universities use a lot of specialized language (called "jargon") in the normal course of business. Students are sometimes confused by the meaning of this collegiate "language" and feel uneasy asking for an explanation. Hopefully, this site will help clear up some of the confusion!

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academic concentration
See major.
academic recognition
Distinctions earned by and awarded to students. Some example recognitions are President's List, Dean's List, and Honors Program Graduate.
academic standing
The status of a student's academic career usually determined by the Grade Point Average and other considerations.
academic year
Usually this refers to the August-May school year. In some cases it refers to the entire year (including summer semester).
accreditation
Certification that a school or an instructional program meets standards set by an outside reviewing organization. Many forms of financial aid are available only to students attending accredited institutions.
admission
Approval for a student to attend an educational institution. The admission process usually involves an application form and may require transcripts or other supporting documents.
advisor
A member of the college faculty or staff who assists students with planning semester schedules as well as their overall programs of study.
application
The first step in requesting admission to an institution of higher education. Usually there is a form to fill out by a certain deadline; sometimes there is an application fee to pay.
areas A-F
areas A-E represent the core curriculum for a degree and Area F represents courses to be taken in the major field. Consult the latest online catalog to see the core curriculum and Area F requirements for a particular degree.
articulation
A formal agreement between high schools and colleges or between community/technical colleges and baccalaureate institutions, designed to make it easy for students to move from one educational level to the next without any gaps or repetition in their coursework..
assessment
A method of determining a student’s knowledge or skill level, often taken to find his or her best placement or starting level in a series of courses in English or math.
associate's degree
A diploma earned after successfully completing a required program of study in a community or technical college. It typically requires 62 or more credits and takes two years of full-time study. Some associate’s degrees enable students to transfer to baccalaureate colleges and universities (Transfer Associate Degrees), others prepare students to go right into the workforce in a professional/technical field (Associate of Applied Science Degrees).
attendance policy
The policy set by the college or university, department or division, or individual instructor that states the maximum number of allowable absences from a course.
audit
A student who audits a course formally registers for it and attends class sessions but earns no credit and has no obligation to complete homework projects or take tests.
baccalaureate or bachelor's degree
A college degree which can often be earned by following a four-year instructional program. A baccalaureate institution, sometimes informally called a “four-year college,” is a college or university which is entitled to grant a baccalaureate or bachelor’s degree.
basic skills
Usually refers to a level of competency—specifically in reading, writing, and mathematics—which is required for successful college-level work in all fields of study.
bursar
An official in charge of funds at a college or university; a treasurer. At MGA, this function is performed by the Business Office under the Fiscal Affairs division.
CPE (College Placement Exam)
The College Placement Exam helps to place students in whatever courses they are ready for, either college-level courses or courses to prepare them for college-level courses. The CPE assesses the kinds of skills needed for success in college and tests your academic preparation in three areas: Writing, Reading Comprehension, and Mathematics. You do not PASS or FAIL the CPE; it only determines your current skill level in the area(s) tested so that you can be placed appropriately.
CRN (Course Reference Number)
A five digit number used to identify each course section offered in a semester. Fall semester CRNs begin with the number "6", spring semester CRNs begin with the number "2", and summer semester CRNs begin with the number "5".
campus
The land and buildings that a college or university uses for instruction or student services.
catalog
A comprehensive resource listing college regulations, program and course descriptions, degree and graduation requirements, transfer requirements, and other essential information.
certificate
A document granted by a college or university indicating that a student has successfully completed specified courses and requirements (compare with degree, which usually requires more time and coursework).
class
(1) A specific group of students meeting for specific instructional purposes. It can mean the whole series of scheduled meetings (“Dr. Smith is teaching two English Composition classes this semester”) or just one session (“we had a guest speaker in my Psychology class today”).
(2) Often means the same as course (“she’s taking classes in Business”).
(3) A group of students who start at a school together and expect to complete their studies at the same time (“he’s in the graduating class of 2008”).
class schedule
(1) A publication listing detailed course and section information (days, times, room numbers, etc.) for a specific semester.
(2) The specific courses that an individual student is taking or plans to take for a given semester.
college-level study
Curricula and instruction that assume the student has already mastered certain skills and abilities and has the level of commitment needed for postsecondary school work. Compare to developmental-level study.
At MGA, college-level courses are numbered 1000 or above.
commencement
The ceremony at the end of an academic year when students receive their degrees or diplomas (compare to graduation).
competency
In “competency-based” courses or instructional programs, students must demonstrate certain skills and abilities (instead of just earning passing grades in classes) before moving from one level to the next or earning the final certificate or degree .
counselor
A member of the college staff who has special training in guidance and who assists students in academic or personal matters.
core curriculum
An established set of courses that all students pursue during their early college career.
corequisite
A course that must be taken at the same time as another course..
course
(1) Often means the same as class.
(2) A planned sequence of instruction in a particular topic; may include class meetings, lectures, readings, demonstrations, exercises, assignments, examinations, etc.; offered repeatedly to different groups of students.
credit
A unit of measure for college work. Generally speaking, one credit hour represents one hour of classroom attendance each week for one term, plus the study time, homework, etc. that go along with it.
course load
The total credit value of the courses a student is currently enrolled in.
credit load
See course load.
curriculum
(plural: curricula)
(1) An established sequence of information to be learned, skills to be acquired, etc. in a specific course or in a complete instructional program.
(2) Collectively, all the courses offered by a department, division, or college.
DOE (Departmental Objectives Exam)
The Departmental Objectives Exam (DOE) is a grammar test of 80 multiple choice items. It is given to all ENGL 1101 students at Middle Georgia State University; students must make at least 60% on the DOE in order to receive a C or better in the course. If that 60% is made, the score counts 10% of the course grade. Students who make below 60% on the DOE cannot make more than a D in the course. Middle Georgia State University requires that all ENGL 1101 students make at least a C or better in ENGL 1101 before enrolling in ENGL 1102. Since the teaching of grammar is not part of the syllabus in ENGL 1101, students should use the DOE to identify areas of weakness in grammar and study those skills on their own. Students have three opportunities to take the DOE.
dean
An academic administrator or official at a school, college, or university, especially one with responsibility for students or faculty.
degree
A rank conferred by a college or university and earned by a student who has successfully completed specified courses and requirements (compare with certificate, which usually requires less time and coursework).
degree audit
After the student applies for graduation, a degree audit is completed that list all courses completed toward their degree program and denote all remaining degree requirements. The graduation application should be submitted at least two semesters prior to completing all degree requirements. Refer the Registrar’s Office Website for graduation information. http://www.mga.edu/registrar/
department
An organizational unit within a college or university, offering courses about closely related topics (at a small school there may be one foreign languages department, at a large school there may be separate departments for Spanish, French, Japanese, etc).
developmental-level study
Instruction that helps students improve their English and math abilities and prepare themselves for college-level study.
At MGA, developmental-level courses are numbered 0199 or below.
diploma
An official document issued by a college or university indicating that a student has earned a certain degree or certificate .
discipline
(1) A subject; field; branch of knowledge or learning ("he teaches in the related disciplines of physics and astronomy")
(2) Orderly behavior ("instructors are responsible for maintaining discipline in their classrooms")
(3) Correction or punishment for disorderly behavior ("she disrupted the class repeatedly, so the college will begin disciplinary action").
distance learning or distance education
Instruction which is not time- or place-specific; can include correspondence courses, televised or videotaped lectures, online courses (internet and e-mail), etc.
division
An organizational unit within a college or university consisting of two or more related departments.
drop
To cancel registration in a course after enrolling into it. Students often add and drop courses before settling on a class schedule for a particular semester. This process involves completing a form in the Registrar's Office. See also withdrawal.
elective
A course that is not required for a particular instructional program. Many programs require a certain number of elective credits, and many recommend certain electives for students to choose from.
e-mail
Short for electronic mail. The exchange of text messages and computer files over a communications network, such as a local area network or the Internet, usually between computers or terminals.
enrollment
(1) The process of signing up and paying for courses. See also registration.
(2) The total number of registered students attending classes in a particular instructional program or the whole school.
ESL (English as a Second Language)
Usually refers to developmental-level instruction in English language skills for non-native speakers.
evaluation
(1) The process and standards by which an instructor judges a student's work and assigns a grade.
(2) The process of determining that a student has met all requirements to complete a degree or certificate and is ready to graduate.
faculty
The instructors or teaching staff at a school. College and university faculty rankings are: instructor, assistant professor, associate professor, and professor.
federal work study
On-campus, student employment where the student's salary is paid through financial aid channels. See also student assistant.
FERPA
The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) (aka the Buckley Amendment) is the legislation that insures that student's educational and personal information is protected by educational institutions.
final
An examination administered at the end of an academic term. Final exam can be cumulative (covering all material presented during the term) or partial (covering material only presented since the midterm).
financial aid
Money available from various sources to help students pay college expenses. These funds come as loans, grants, or scholarships from the state or federal government or other organizations. Work-study is also a form of financial aid.
FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid)
The application required for students to be considered for federal student financial aid. The FAFSA is processed free of charge and is used by most state agencies and colleges. There is a form for each academic year. FAFSA forms are available from high schools and on the website www.fafsa.ed.gov.
freshman
A student in the first year of a typical four-year baccalaureate degree program (or one who has earned fewer than 30 semester credits so far).
full-time student
This is normally a student taking twelve or more credit hours in a semester.
GED (General Educational Development Diploma)
A certificate representing the equivalent of a high-school diploma.
general education
At MGA, a set of requirements designed to help every graduating student achieve competence in a variety of learning outcome areas.
grade
A formal indicator of a student's overall performance in a course, recorded on the official transcript. Traditional letter grades are "A" for outstanding achievement, "B" for high achievement, "C" for satisfactory achievement, etc.
grade-point average (GPA)
The GPA is computed by multiplying the number value of the grade earned in each course (generally, A=4, B=3, C=2, D=1, F=0) times the number credits for each course, then dividing the result by the total number of credits taken.
grade symbols
These are the actual grades a student would see printed on their transcript. In addition to the standard grade symbols of A, B, C, D, and F, there are other symbols awarded. Consult the latest online catalog to see the other grade symbols awarded. (See also grade)
graduation
The formal completion of an instructional program or course of study. Students graduate after successfully meeting all credit and course requirements and other criteria set by the college or university (compare to commencement).
grant
A type of financial aid that does not have to be paid back after the student leaves school. Grants are available through the federal government, state agencies, and educational institutions.
history and constitution requirements
(State of Georgia Legislative Requirements) Before being certified as having met all degree requirements, students must satisfy the Georgia legislative requisites of demonstrating proficiency in United States and Georgia history and the United States and Georgia constitutions. The requirements are usually satisfied by completing American History and Political Sciences courses at a University System of Georgia college or university. Students who have taken these courses at schools outside of the University System of Georgia should consult the latest online catalog to see the other ways the requirements may be satisfied.
honors courses
These classes are designed to be more innovative, enjoyable, and rewarding since students of similar abilities are grouped together in small classes. (see honors program)
honors program
The Honors Program at MGA is designed to help academically advanced students develop their intellectual potential through challenging educational activities.
incomplete
A temporary grade given to a student who is doing satisfactory work but is forced by illness or other emergency to miss an exam or a major assignment. The instructor and student arrange how and when the student will complete the work and have the "I" changed to a final letter grade.
independent study
An arrangement that allows a student to earn college credit through individual study and research, usually planned with and supervised by a faculty member.
instructional day
An instructional day refers to any day of the week (M-F) after the semester begins, not the day a class meets.
internship
A supervised short-term apprenticeship or temporary job in a real-world setting closely related to a student's field of study. The student may or may not be paid but earns college credit for the work experience. See also practicum.
junior
A student in the third year of a typical four-year baccalaureate degree program (or one who has earned 60-90 semester credits so far).
learning outcomes
What students are expected to know and to be able to do as a result of their experience at the college and, more specifically, as a result of completing their general education requirements.
load
See course load.
loans
A type of financial aid that must be repaid to the government agency or other lending organization when the student leaves school.
logon
To gain access to a specific computer, a program, or a network by identifying oneself with a username and a password.
lower division
The courses students are generally expected to complete during the first two years of a typical four-year baccalaureate degree program.
major
Specialization in one academic discipline or field of study.
matriculate
To admit or be admitted into a college or university.
midterm
1. Middle of an academic term ( semester or quarter).
2. An examination administered in the middle of an academic term.
no-show
A student who registers into a course but never goes to class.
noncredit
Courses or instructional programs which do not require extensive homework or examinations and which do not offer college credit. Students frequently take noncredit courses for basic skills improvement, job training or career enhancement, or personal enrichment.
online
1. In reference to a user, being able to connect to the Internet, an online service, or a BBS by virtue of having an account that gives one access.
2. A way to deliver course content (“I am taking an online English course”).
open admissions
The policy of some colleges to admit nearly all applicants, regardless of high school grades and admission test scores. It means different things at different schools.
orientation
An event attended by new and transfer students prior to attending their first class at an institution.
outcomes
See learning outcomes.
overload
At MGA, an overload is a course load of more than 18 credit hours in one semester.
pass/passing
At most schools, a student will earn credit and "pass" a class with a grade of "A" through "D." A student who earns an "F" grade fails the class and earns no credit. Different schools have different standards, so a student who passes a class with a "D" may or may not be able to use that class to meet prerequisites or fulfill requirements.
password
The string of characters entered by a user to verify his or her identity to a computer network. The system compares the code against a stored list of authorized passwords and users. If the code is legitimate, the system allows the user access at whatever security level has been approved for the owner of the password. Ideally a password is a combination of text, numbers, and punctuation or other characters that cannot be guessed or easily cracked by intruders.
pedagogy
The art or profession of teaching.
placement
The appropriate level to enter a series of courses, based on the student’s skills (“since she learned so much Spanish in high school, she can place into Spanish 2001 in her first year at college”); often used in the context of basic skills subjects such as mathematics or English composition. See also assessment.
postsecondary
Refers to all educational programs for students past high-school age; it includes community and technical colleges and job training programs as well as baccalaureate colleges and universities.
practicum
A course that includes job-related activities and stresses the practical application of theory in a field of study. See also internship.
prerequisite
A course that must be completed (often with a certain minimum grade) or a skill that must be demonstrated before a student can enroll in a more advanced course (for example, first-year French is a prerequisite for second-year French).
professional/technical
A course or instructional program that emphasizes job skills training for a particular field of work; often called "occupational" or "vocational" education and often contrasted with "academic" or "transfer" education.
program
A very general term used in many ways in a college or university:
(1) The courses that an individual student plans to take ("the academic advisors can help you plan your program each year").
(2) The courses required to complete a particular degree or certificate ("he's almost finished with the Information Technology program").
(3) The courses that make up a department or the departments that make up a division within the college organization ("the Social Science Division at MGA offers instructional programs in five fields").
(4) Organized activities with a specific function ("MGA offers academic support programs and services for disabled students").
provost
A university administrator of high rank. We do not use this term at MGA. Our organizational structure is: President, Vice Presidents, Associate and Assistant Vice Presidents, Directors, Assistant Directors, Coordinators, and staff members. See faculty for faculty rankings.
quarter
Some schools organize the academic year into three main periods-Fall, Winter, and Spring Quarters-plus a shorter Summer Quarter (compare to semester).
records
Refers to all the information the college might keep regarding a student; it includes registration activity ( enrollment, withdrawal, etc.), grades, payments, awards received, financial aid applications and award notices, and notes on disciplinary actions, as well as address, phone number, and student identification number.
refund
Tuition and fees that are paid back to a student who has withdrawn from a course. Usually, the amount to be refunded depends on how many credits the student is taking and exactly when the student dropped the course(s). At MGA, refunds are normally disbursed through the Higher One Debit Card Program.
register/registration
To sign up or enroll in a course or courses. "Registration activity" includes enrolling, dropping/withdrawing, making payments, etc.
requirements
Minimum standards defined by the college, for example for a dmission or graduation. See also prerequisite; distribution requirements.
resident
For purposes of calculating a student's tuition and fees, someone who has lived in the state for a specified length of time as shown by specified types of evidence.
residence hour requirement
For an Associate Degree, applicants must be a resident at MGA at least two semesters and earn twenty of the last thirty hours of work applicable to the degree from MGA. For a Bachelor's Degree, applicants must be a resident at MGA at least two semesters and earn thirty semester hours including twenty-one hours in upper division courses in the major area at MGA.
scholarship
(1) A type of financial aid grant. Organizations may give scholarships according to academic achievement, financial need, or any other basis. Usually there is a competitive application process.
(2) A person's ability and expertise in a particular discipline of study ("I've always admired Dr. Smith's scholarship in literature").
section
A specific class with its own unique days, hours, location, and instructor. A number of sections of a certain course may be offered during a semester, each with different days, times, locations, and instructors but presenting the same curriculum.
securing your classes
At MGA, this means to pay for the classes for which you're registered whether by applying your financial aid or paying by credit card or cash/check.
semester
Some schools organize the academic year into two main periods-Fall and Spring Semesters-plus a shorter Summer Semester (compare to quarter).
senior
A student in the fourth year of a typical four-year baccalaureate degree program (or one who has earned 90-120 semester credits so far).
sophomore
A student in the second year of a typical four-year baccalaureate degree program (or one who has earned 30-60 semester credits so far).
student assistant
On-campus, student employment where the student's salary is paid using funds from the department in which the student is employed. This term is also used for any student worker, regardless of payment source. See also federal work study.
study abroad program
In this program, students take some of their credit work at a college or university in another country. The program is designed to offer students an opportunity to experience life in another culture, to see the world and human relationships from a broader, more informed perspective, and to add an international or cross-cultural dimension to their educational experience.
syllabus
(plural: syllabi)
An outline plan for a particular class, including textbook requirements, class meeting dates, reading assignments, examination dates, the instructor's grading standards, etc.
term
A unit of time that can refer to either a quarter or a semester, depending on which system the college or university follows.
TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language)
A standardized test which assesses the English language abilities of students who are not native English-speakers.
transcript
An official record of the courses and semester or quarter credits a student has taken at a college or university, the grades and degrees or certificates earned, and any awards and honors received. The term "official transcript" indicates that the document was issued directly to someone other than the student. A transcript cannot be termed "official" if it has passed through the student's hands in any way.
transient student
Temporary admission to another college or university with the intent to transfer completed course work back to your home school. MGA students must complete a transient permission form prior to attending another institution as a transient student.
transfer
To move from one college or university to another and have the second institution recognize and accept some or all of the courses taken and credits earned at the first.
tuition & fees
Tuition is a student's basic payment towards the cost of instruction at a college or university. Most institutions also charge fees for laboratory equipment and materials, computer use, parking, and other miscellaneous costs.
undergraduate
A student who has not yet earned a bachelor's degree; also refers to the courses and instructional programs such a student enrolls in.
upper division
The courses students are generally expected to complete during the last two years of a typical four-year baccalaureate degree program.
username
The name by which a person is known and addressed on an electronic communications network.
withdrawal
The process of formally dropping a class or classes after the term has started. This process involves completing a form in the Registrar's Office.
work-study
A type of financial aid which pays students to work part-time, often on campus, during the academic year.

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