Glossary of Terms
2+2 transfer – An agreement whereby a student completes 2 years of education at a community college and then transfers to a four-year college or university to obtain a bachelor’s degree.
academic advising – Assistance provided by faculty members to help students decide the courses needed to meet all requirements for earning a certificate or degree.
academic year – The period of formal instruction usually from September to June. An academic year may be divided into semesters, trimesters, or quarters.
accreditation – The process used to approve the program quality of U.S. higher education institutions. Community colleges and universities are accredited by the same nationally recognized regional accrediting agencies.
articulation agreement – An agreement between community colleges and universities that allows course credits to be transferred from one institution to another.
associate degree – Degree awarded upon completion of approximately 2 years of full-time study (60 credit hours) which includes three parts: general education requirements, major requirements, and electives.
bachelor’s degree – Degree awarded upon completion of approximately 4 years of full-time study in the liberal arts and sciences or professional subjects.
campus – The land on which the buildings of a college are located.
coed – A college that admits both male and female students.
college – A postsecondary institution that provides undergraduate degree programs and, in some cases, master’s degrees.
college catalog – An official college publication that includes information about academic programs, facilities, entrance requirements, and student life.
course – Regularly scheduled class sessions of 1–5 hours (or more) per week during a semester or quarter. A degree program, comprised of required and elective courses, varies from institution to institution.
course load – The number of courses or credits taken in a semester or quarter.
credits – Units colleges use to record the completion of courses with passing grades that are required for an academic degree.
culture shock – The mental shock of adjusting to a new country that may be dramatically different from one’s own.
degree – A diploma conferred by a college, university, or professional school upon completion of an approved program of study.
department – Administrative subdivision of a college through which instruction in a certain field of study is given.
dormitory (dorm) – Housing facility on a college campus reserved for students.
electives – Courses that students may choose to take for credit toward their intended degree, rather than courses that they are required to take.
English as a second language (ESL) – A program used to teach English to students whose first language is not English.
extracurricular activities – Non-academic activities undertaken outside of college courses.
faculty – Members of the teaching staff at a college or university who are also responsible for designing the courses of study offered by the institution.
fee – An amount charged by colleges and universities, in addition to tuition, to cover costs of institutional services.
freshman – A first-year student at a college or university.
full-time student – A student who is enrolled at a college or university and is taking at least the minimum number of credits (usually 12) to meet the institution’s requirements.
grade point average (GPA) – A system of recording achievement based on a numerical average of the grades attained in each course.
graduate – A student who has completed a course of study, either at the college or university level.
homestay – An arrangement where the student lives with a U.S. family in the local community and has the opportunity to experience life as it is lived day to day in the United States.
Intensive English Program (IEP) – A term used to describe a program that teaches English to non-native speakers.
international student adviser (ISA) – The person at a college or university who is in charge of providing information and guidance to international students in areas including government and visa regulations, academic requirements, social customs, language, financial or housing issues, travel plans, insurance, and/or legal matters.
junior – A third-year student at a college or university.
liberal arts – A term referring to academic studies of subjects in the humanities, the sciences, and the social sciences.
major – The subject in which a student wishes to concentrate his or her study.
minor – A subject in which the student takes the second greatest concentration of courses.
Optional Practical Training (OPT) – A program in which international students are entitled to work in their field of study upon the completion of a degree (associate, bachelor’s, master’s, and beyond).
placement test – An examination used to test a student’s academic ability in a specific field so that he or she can be placed in courses at the appropriate level in that field.
prerequisite – A program or course that a student is required to complete before being permitted to enroll in a more advanced program or course.
registration – Process through which students select courses to be taken during the academic year.
room and board – Terms used to describe living facilities (room) and food (board).
senior – A fourth-year student at a college or university.
SEVIS – An Internet-based system developed by the U.S. government to track and monitor non-immigrant students during the time they are enrolled in the U.S. higher education system.
SEVIS Form I-20 – The form an international student receives from a college or university after he or she is accepted as a student. The I-20 includes information required to apply for a visa: name of the college, field of study, dates the student expects to begin and complete studies, and the student’s ability to pay for his or her education.
social security number (SSN) – Everyone who works in the United States is required to have an SSN. The number is issued by the U.S. government and often is used by colleges and universities as the student’s identification number.
sophomore – A second-year student at a college or university.
transcript – A certified copy of a student’s educational record.
tuition – The money an institution charges for instruction and training (not including the cost of books).
undergraduate studies – Two- or four-year programs at a college or university undertaken after secondary school graduation and leading to an associate or bachelor’s degree.
university – A large postsecondary institution that offers both undergraduate and graduate degree programs.
vocational or technical college – A college offering programs that prepare students with skills relevant to the needs of employers and the economy.
withdrawal – The administrative procedure of dropping a course or leaving a college or university.
zip code – A series of numbers in mailing addresses that designate postal delivery districts in the United States.