College Terms

Associate of Arts degree. It can be earned at most two-year colleges.

Associate of Applied Science degree. It can be earned at some two-year colleges.

Academic scholarships are based upon academic achievement as reflected in your college application.

You’ve been admitted in to the college and have the option of attending.

The ACT, (pronounced by each letter, not as a word), is a test that most students take to get into college (you can also take its counterpart, the SAT). The ACT has four sections: English, reading, math, and science reasoning (which is more a test of reading graphs than any science) and is offered six times a year in the United States. Register at When registering, do sign up for the optional writing section because many colleges require it.

The ACT is scored from 1 to 36 points. There is also an essay which is graded on a 12 point scale. The test takes about four hours and you can use a calculator on the math section. The ACT is considered more straightforward and less tricky than the SAT. There is no penalty for guessing on the ACT, as there is on the SAT. Most students do some kind of preparation before the test, so very few students send in raw scores. Preparation typically costs around $800, and can dramatically raise your scores, so many people feel the tests are socio-economically biased in favor of the upper classes. Most students take both the ACT and the SAT and then choose which one to send to colleges. In recent years there has been a rise of students taking only the ACT.

It is not required that you submit ACT or SAT test scores to get into every college in the US, so avoiding the test is possible (check out for a list of nearly 400 colleges who do not require the tests because they do not think the tests are fair).

The admissions representative is the person from a college or university designated to a certain region. They are the ones who will attend the college fair, visit your school, or host interviews in your local area. It is a good idea to introduce yourself and try to build a relationship with them if at all possible so that they will know who you are when it comes time to make admissions decisions.

AP classes are high-level courses administered by the College Board. The curriculum provided through AP is equitable to college-level courses. Depending on the score you receive on the final exam, a college may award advanced placement or college credit to you. Criteria for this differs depending on the college; check each school’s policy for AP credit. You report any known (high) AP scores on your college applications in fall of senior year. You send AP credit to your college in June of your senior year.

People who have graduated from a college or university.

A student who has completed the college application process at an institution.

A college application is part of the competitive college admissions system. Admissions departments usually require students to complete an application for admission that generally consists of academic records, personal essays, letters of recommendation, and a list of extracurricular activities. Most schools require the SAT or ACT. Deadlines for admission applications are established and published by each college or university.

The date the application is due. Applications are not accepted after this date. This date varies from college to college.

An institution specializing in the visual, performing, and/or creative arts.

These scholarships are based upon athletic ability and your prospective college’s departmental needs. Athletic scholarships are very difficult to receive because of fierce competition.

To attend a class without receiving credit for the class.

An award letter from a school states the type and amount of financial aid the school is willing to provide the student.


Bachelor of Arts Degree. This is the four-year degree that you get as an undergraduate at college. When most people talk about going to college, this is the degree they will get. If you major in a science, your degree will be a Bachelor of Science (B.S.); BA and BS degrees are equivalent. If you then go on to graduate school, you would get a master’s degree.

Bachelor of Science Degree. This is the four-year degree that you get as an undergraduate at college. When most people talk about going to college, this is the degree they will get. If you major in a science, your degree will be a Bachelor of Science (B.S.); BA and BS degrees are equivalent. If you then go on to graduate school after undergrad, you would get a master’s degree.


Provided by the colleges. A campus visit/tour allows prospective students to visit various campus buildings, meet key professors and admissions representatives, and get a first- hand look at campus life.

Once admitted to a university, you have until May 1 to respond. This deadline allows you to hear back from all colleges that you applied to as well as receive important financial aid package information from each school, so that you can decide where you will attend. You must declare your intent to enroll by May 1st or you will lose your spot. Tell your other colleges your plans so they can offer your spot to someone on the wait list.

A catalogue is a publication that provides a detailed overview of an institution, including its mission, programs, costs, admissions requirements, faculty and administration.

A program that is typically a package of five or six courses, for credit or not, taken over three to 18 months These programs allow the student to specialize. Some cost a few thousand dollars, others much more.

An event at which colleges, universities, and other organizations related to higher education present themselves for the purpose of attracting and identifying potential applicants. Check for a list of dates and locations.

The College Level Examination Program is administered by the CollegeBoard. It contains over 30 tests. The CLEP tests mastery of college-level material acquired through general academic instructions, significant independent study or extracurricular work. CLEP exam-takers include adults just entering or returning to school, military service members and traditional college students.

A list of 5-10 schools to which you plan to apply. Make sure the list has Safety, Match, and Reach schools. Also make sure that you check the Net Price Calculator on each college’s website before adding that college to your college list. Before you declare your college list final, look at the Safety schools and ask yourself if you would be very happy going to one of those? If so, proceed. Also, pay careful attention to the Match section of your college list, because this is where most students end up going to college, so make sure you are happy with the schools in that section. Make sure your college list is balanced across the three categories. Also, do not apply to more than 10 schools. It is just silly. If your college list is done properly, you can apply to 7 schools very happily and do each application very well, which is key, and get great results!

Admissions representative visit high schools or community sites for the purpose of recruiting students for admission to the institution. If you are interested in a college then you should certainly attend!

The CSS PROFILE or College Scholarship Service PROFILE is an application distributed by the College Board. It is used by approximately 250 institutions to take a deeper look into family finances. The EFC given to you by the PROFILE will be different than the FAFSA. Make sure to fill out both the PROFILE and the FAFSA to see where you can get the most aid.

A standardized college application form that is accepted by many universities and easily saves hours of work. Colleges that accept the Common App consider it equally with their own application, if they have one.

Scholarships awarded to help employees and their families and to show community support. Start with your family’s employers, check out the newspaper and see which companies in your area are awarding scholarships, and then contact these businesses to find out how to apply.


This simply means that the admission committee has declined to make a decision about your acceptance until a later date.

This is a category of admission available at some institutions for fully accepted students who wish—for a justifiable reason—to take a semester or year off before enrolling in college.

A student’s expression of his or her desire to attend a college through campus visits, contact with admissions officers, and other actions that attract the attention of college admissions personnel.

This is the difference between the cost of attending a college and your expected family contribution.

You have not been admitted to the school and should look at your best options from the schools you were accepted to.

Instructional and support activities designed to keep unprepared students in college and help them improve their basic skills so that they can successfully graduate.

These designations refer to a school’s athletic division. Depending on your commitment to your sport as well as your skill level, you can choose to apply to one of these three divisions. DI is the most competitive conference often made up of the largest universities; therefore, minimum SAT and ACT scores must be met, athletic scholarships are available, there is a larger budget for athletics and playing becomes your priority–be prepared to miss classes and participate in intensive training. In Division II schools you must still plan on meeting minimum SAT and ACT scores, there are still athletic scholarships but often fewer because less of the university’s budget is devoted to athletics and training and slightly more emphasis is put on academics. Division III schools do not require the SAT or ACT to be taken; however, they cannot distribute athletic money – only academic scholarships; there is minimal traveling and less emphasis on training. Each division has something unique to offer so be sure to research each one thoroughly and decide on which is the best fit for you.

A program most universities have for students transferring. A college or university will automatically accept you if you meet their minimum requirements including GPA and number of credits at your two year college.

Under this policy you can transfer certain course credits to a degree-granting institution. Not all colleges allow this so be sure to talk with the admissions office at the institution of your choice to see if they will accept credit transfers.

Early action (EA) is a non-binding application to college. You complete an EA application to meet the early deadline. This shows interest in the college and if your scores and GPA are high or good, then it boosts your chances for admission quite a bit. If your scores or GPA are somewhat low, it is advisable to ask your admissions representative at a college if you should apply early there. You don’t want to be in a pool of all very-high scoring peers but similarly if applying early would make you look very interested, then it can help, so call and ask what you should do.

Early decision (ED) is a binding application to one college only. When you apply ED to a school you commit to going there and you do not apply ED to any other school. You can still apply EA and regular decision to other colleges, in case you are not accepted at your ED school, but if you are accepted you must notify all of your other colleges immediately so they can pull and cancel your application. DO notify them because it saves some other student from being denied or waitlisted; be polite. If you apply ED your admissions chances usually increase substantially, even doubling. If accepted ED you are not able to consider your financial aid offerings from all of your colleges, since you commit to going to your ED school if accepted.

This is the amount colleges will expect your family to pay per year. The smaller your EFC and income, the more aid you qualify for (this is a federal formula, determined by the FAFSA). The earlier you know your EFC the better. It is best if you use the EFC calculator on to determine your estimated EFC. You should do the calculation for both federal and institutional methodologies. You will need your parents’ AGI, tax, and investment information. This is a very important step!

Extracurricular activities are simply anything you do that is not a high school course. Most community and family activities are also “extracurricular.”

FairTest schools do not require SAT or ACT scores on an application or to gain admission. FairTest is run by The National Center for Fair & Open Testing.

This grant is a form of financial aid provided by the Federal government to students whose FAFSA indicates a high level of financial need.

These loans are similar to Stafford loans in that no interest accrues while you are in college. The interest rate is lower, and the repayment grace period is longer than that of a Stafford subsidized loan. The need-based standards are more stringent for the Perkins loan and funds are awarded based on the FAFSA Student Aid Report.

Final year reports are sent to colleges in June of your Senior year. They are your 2nd semester grades and are essentially proving to schools that you did not slack at the end of Senior year. If there is a dramatic difference between the GPA you submitted to universities and your GPA from Senior year, it may be grounds enough for the college to alter their admissions decision.

The total amount of financial aid a student receives. Federal and non- federal aid are combined in a “package” to help meet the student’s need.

A student whose parents have no college experience.

The application that every student must submit in order to be eligible for federal financial aid. The CORRECT link for this is Do NOT use the link “”. That site is not official.

A gap year is a year typically taken between high school and college. Most students apply to college during Senior year, accept a spot, and then defer the admission for one year to go on a gap program. Colleges recommend you not mention your intent to do a gap year in your application. Gap year programs can be structured, in a group setting, or very independent, like an internship. Most kids do a structured program in the fall for three months, take a break, and then do a more independent program from January to June. A gap year allows students to explore their interests, and after going on a gap year most students have higher GPA’s in college because a gap year allows you to recharge your batteries and discover your passions. Studying abroad, typically done after sophomore year of college, also falls under the gap year category. You must apply to go on a gap year, usually 3-5 months in advance.

The Post-9/11 GI Bill provides financial support for education and housing to individuals with at least 90 days of aggregate service after September 10, 2001, or individuals discharged with a service-connected disability after 30 days. You must have received an honorable discharge to be eligible for the Post-9/11 GI Bill.

A quantitative measure of your academic record; it is usually based on a scale from 0 to 4.0. Your GPA is a cumulative number of your progress in every class, all together.

An institution of higher learning, generally a division of a university, that enables students to earn a Masters or even Doctorate degree. Grad school is usually highly specialized and very intensive. You attend graduate school after you get your BA degree from your four years of college.

Greek life is the collection of sororities and fraternities that make up the Greek system on a campus. They often have a large influence within the campus social life of a university.

A guidance counselor is an educator who advises students on academics, career choices, personal problems, and similar situations. Guidance counselors also help students through the college application process and the school counselor writes you a letter of recommendation for your college applications, so get to know this person, don’t cause problems for them, and always be on your very best behavior to make a good impression. If your school does not have a guidance counselor, or if she/he is swamped with kids, consider going to your local Boys and Girls Club, or joining another community organization that matches mentors with students. Post questions in the Forum on CollegeMapper and our volunteer counselors will answer them for you, too!

Historically black colleges and universities are institutions of higher education in the United States that were established before 1964 with the intention of serving the black community. There are 105 HBCUs today, including public and private, two-year and four-year institutions, medical schools and community colleges. Almost all are in former slave states.

Students may choose to conduct independent research during their summers or even during the school year. Independent research can cover a variety of topics that are of personal interest to a student such as: World War II, breaking the poverty cycle, how music affects your brain, antique cars, theories involving magnets, etc. A student can conduct research through: the internet, *reading*, interviews, podcasts, museums, films, lectures, books, magazines, etc. You do not necessarily need to “do” anything with your research–although that is a bonus–but the fact that you explore something of interest to you on your own time shows your colleges that you are a curious thinker type, and everybody in academia loves that! (Reading is a main component of any independent research).

A student whose permanent residence is in the same state as the college or university he or she attends. In-state students pay lower tuition than do out-of-state students.

This is a need-based grant provided by an institution and offered to students whose families are unable to pay the full cost of college. Institutional grants do not have to be repaid.

Any student loan administered by the college or university using the institution’s funds as the source of funding. Perkins Loans may also be considered institutional loans.

Any student loan administered by the college or university using the institution’s funds as the source of funding. Perkins Loans may also be considered institutional loans.

A student who has a close relative who attended the university is considered as a “legacy” to that university. Parents and siblings count the most, but grandparents may help. More distant relatives such as aunts and uncles do not really help unless they’re significant donors. Relatives who and have donated to support the university since graduating are very helpful to you in admissions.

A letter written by a teacher or guidance counselor describing you as a student. These letters are sent with your college applications and are considered as part of your admissions file. You need two letters from core subject teachers in Junior year, and one letter from your guidance counselor, so get to know these people as well as you can.

A degree-granting institution where the academic focus is on developing the intellect and instruction in the humanities and sciences, rather than on training for a particular vocational, technical, or professional pursuit.


Joining the mailing list of a college or university is an important first step in networking. After joining the mailing list you will begin to receive information regarding the school. Each school can tell when you join the mailing list, so do it to demonstrate interest in the school—it makes you look good! (Note: the colleges will purchase your SAT and ACT scores and begin to send you mail. This does not mean they are actively recruiting you necessarily, nor does it mean you are “in their system.” Be sure to join the mailing list on your own because you are put in a different pool of people who have shown interest, and that is a good pool to be in.)

Also known as College Essay and Personal Statement. This is a 1-2 page piece of writing that you submit to all of your colleges. You will also write smaller pieces, called Supplements, for many of your colleges. Before you begin writing, make a list of all prompts you have to write and spend 30 minutes strategizing so that you don’t write any piece twice–recycle!

This will be the main focus of your studies while in college. Your college or university will specify the number of credits you will need to take to complete your major, in addition to the sequence and level of the courses that must be completed in order to earn your degree. You can double major.

A list of each question you have to answer in writing for your applications. Make this list before you start writing, in July before your Senior year. Carefully note if the prompt has a word limit *or* a character limit–these are not the same thing! Copy and paste each prompt from each college’s website onto one single word doc to create your Master List of Prompts. Do not put the prompt in your own words or sum it up–copy and paste it exactly, trust me. Then spend 30 minutes strategizing which prompts are very similar or identical, so that you can recycle writing pieces. This is time well spent because it gets your ideas flowing. Write the pieces in the order that they are due; have most of them drafted during July. Try to have most of them finalized in August, before school starts. Summer writing is the single smartest thing you can do in the whole admissions process.

Master of Arts Degree (MA), Master of Sciences Degree (MS). This is the diploma many people get if they go to graduate school after the 4 years of undergraduate school. Masters Degrees can be granted in many disciplines, and usually take 2-3 years to earn. If you do schooling past a Masters Degree that is typically to earn a PhD.

Match schools are schools where you have a very good chance of being accepted, but maybe it’s 50-60% chance. Make sure you are happy with this section of your list because it is where most students end up going to college.

The payment of deposits, tuition, fees, and other charges to enroll in a program of studies at an educational institution. A university might make a distinction between “matriculated students,” who are actually accumulating credits toward a degree, and a relative few “non-matriculated students” who may be “auditing” courses or taking classes without receiving credits.

Financial aid awarded based on individual achievements and talents. Merit money is most commonly given out by private colleges and universities.

A form of aid based upon your grade point average, academic excellence and extracurricular involvement with some attention to your financial need.

Mid year reports are sent to colleges in January or February of Senior year. They are your 1st semester grades from Senior year and allow colleges to monitor your academic progress throughout the application season. If a college sees that your mid years do not match up with your GPA, it will often influence their admissions decision. Be sure to keep those grades high!

An emphasis in your studies that requires fewer credits to complete than a major. Your minor can be related to your major or not. For example, you may major in architecture but pursue a minor in political science. You can have more than one minor. You cannot, after graduation, attend graduate school in the area of your minor, and most companies would not hire you to work directly in your minor area. Minors give you some specialty knowledge, but they do not make you a specialist (that’s a major).


National Portfolio Day is an event specifically for visual artists and designers. It is an opportunity for those who want to pursue an education in the visual and related arts to meet with representatives from colleges accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design. School representatives will be available to review your artwork, discuss their programs and answer questions about their school and professional careers in art. High school students, parents, teachers, guidance counselors and college transfer students are encouraged to attend.

Financial aid given based on the ability of you and your family to pay for college.

Full consideration of an applicant and his or her application without regard to the individual’s need for financial aid.

The date by which applicants who are accepted for admission are expected to notify the institutions of their intent to enroll and make enrollment deposits. That date is often on or around May 1st.


Student whose permanent residence is in a different state than that of the college or university which they attend. Out-of-state students generally pay higher tuition than do instate students.

Doctor of Philosophy Degree (also called Doctorate). A PhD is a very specialized degree that can take 4-7 years to earn. You can begin a PhD program after you have your Bachelors Degree, in which case you are often awarded a Masters Degree as you work toward your PhD. You can also begin a PhD after you finish your Masters Degree. Having a PhD means that you can call yourself Doctor and that you can teach on the college level. Having a PhD also means that most colleges expect you to do research and publish books. (It makes their college look good.) This expectation gives rise to the little slogan: Publish or Perish, which means, write books or be fired. This causes a debate in academia because some professors would like to focus on teaching but they often feel pressured to focus on research and publishing. Publish or perish is more of an issue at large, research universities. Small liberal arts colleges usually allow and encourage faculty to focus on teaching. Finding a job as a professor is very difficult, but the profession is very rewarding.

The ACT pre-test, given sophomore year. It gives an indication of how prepared you are for the upcoming ACT.

A degree-granting institution where the academic focus is on developing the intellect and instruction in the humanities and sciences, rather than on training for a particular vocational, technical, or professional pursuit.

The Federal Parent Loan for Undergraduate Students (PLUS) allows parents, regardless of income, to borrow up to the total cost of education minus the amount of any other financial aid awarded by the institution or the government.

A post grad year is like a 13th year of high school. It is a stepping-stone to college, teaching students great skills like time management, organization, study skills, and how to use technology for your studies. Some people think of a post grad year like academic boot camp. Most post grad programs are very structured, and the majority of those attending are boys. In 2011, 1400 students in the US did a post grad year. Most of these programs are located in the Northeast.

A course that must be taken prior to enrollment in another course.

This is a college or university funded by private sources without any control by a government agency. The cost of attending a private institution is generally higher than the cost at a public institution.

Any student who is a potential applicant for admission, particularly those who have shown interest in attending the institution or in which the institution has shown interest.

The SAT pre-test for juniors. This test links to the National Merit Scholarship program, and is given in October. Colleges use this data to begin recruiting potential students.

A college or university that receives public funding from a local, state, or national government that regulates the school’s operations is considered a public institution.


Reach schools, and everyone should apply to at least one (why not?), are schools that you have very little chance of getting into, say, less than 25% chance. Whatever you do, do not apply to only Reach schools; this is a recipe for disaster. Even Valedictorians with perfect ACT scores should not apply to only Reach schools because there are so many students applying to college these days that Harvard could fill its freshman class four times with kids who have 4.0’s and perfect test scores, so nobody is guaranteed to get into a Reach school ever.

Letters of endorsement written on a student’s behalf during the college application process. Typically written by a core subject teacher and a counselor.

The sports recruitment process can often be tricky to navigate. It begins as early as your freshmen year in high school depending on your skill level. Be sure to understand the differences between verbal and written agreements, the importance of deadlines, and red shirting and gray shirting, among other terms.

You submit your application by the specified date and receive a decision within a reasonable and clearly stated period of time. Most applicants will hear back in March.

Each branch of the US military sponsors a ROTC program. ROTC is a training program to prepare college students to become commissioned officers; in exchange for a certain number of years on active duty, a portion of your college education will be paid for by the armed forces.

Dormitories, apartments, houses, and other living quarters provided for students by the college.

Refers to the legally required amount of time you must reside in a state to be considered eligible for in-state tuition at one of its public colleges or universities. Check the college admissions requirements to find this information.

Similar to Early Action, except here, as the name implies, it is restrictive. This means that you complete an EA application to meet the early deadline for ONE school and can apply to no other colleges under Early Action. Remember that maybe you don’t want to be in a pool of all very high scoring kids (aka: the people who apply early), but similarly if applying early would make you look very interested, then it can help, so call and ask what you should do.

A list of all of your activities during high school. The resume is typed in 12 point font size, and should consist of no more than 2 pages single spaced. Categories typically include: advanced coursework, leadership, sports, clubs, community service, awards, job, hobbies, reading, research and summers. The resume is attached to the Common Application and can always be given to an interviewer. It should be proofread at least 5 times and updated continually. Have someone else edit it for you; no one can be their own editor.

Rolling admissions means the college will read applications as they come in and they will usually let you know within a month or so if you have been accepted or not. Rolling admissions deadlines are often much later than regular decision deadlines. If a school does rolling admit, then apply early before spots fill up.


Safety schools are schools that you are certain you can get into, based upon your GPA and test scores.

The SAT Reasoning Test, formerly known as the Scholastic Aptitude Test, is a test that most students take to get into college (you can also take its counterpart, the ACT). The SAT has 3 sections: Critical Reading, Math and Writing. The SAT is offered seven times a year in the United States. Register at Fee waivers are available from your guidance counselor. Each of the three sections of the SAT is scored from 200 to 800 points, so in theory you could get a 600 to a 2400 on the test as a whole. There is also an essay, which is graded on a 12-point scale. There is a quarter point penalty for wrong answers on the SAT. The SAT is considered more conceptually tricky than the ACT. Students who prefer analysis and interpretation tend to prefer the SAT. Most students do some kind of prep before the test, so very few students send in raw scores. Prep typically costs around $800, and can dramatically raise your scores, so many people feel standardized tests are socio-economically biased in favor of the upper classes, who can and do afford test prep. Most students take both the SAT and ACT and then choose which one to send to colleges. The test takes about 4 hours. You can use a calculator. It is not required that you submit SAT or ACT test scores to get into every college in the US, so avoiding the test is possible (check out for a list of nearly 400 colleges who do not require the tests because they do not think the tests are fair).

These are hour-long tests offered in:

  • Literature
  • US History
  • World History
  • Math: If you take Math, take Math Level 2 (many colleges won’t accept Level 1). Much of the math is from Algebra 2 and lower, so take the Math test as soon as you have had a little bit of Trig, even in June of sophomore year.
  • Biology
  • Chemistry
  • Physics
  • Chinese
  • French
  • German
  • Modern Hebrew
  • Italian
  • Japanese
  • Korean
  • Latin
  • Spanish

Subject Tests are required or recommended by only the most selective colleges (and occasionally by a competitive major at a school, like Engineering). Check your colleges early to see which tests you might need, if you need any at all. Most students do not end up sending these tests unless the scores are very impressive, say 650+, or even better, 700+. For Ivies you will need 750+ on 3 tests. That said, many students take them in May and June of Junior year, just to have them in case they need them. I do not recommend waiting until Senior year to take these because you are very stressed then and you do not have the results in time to easily apply for ED/EA. Subject Tests are offered on the same days as the SAT and while you can take up to 3 Subject Tests in one day, you cannot take Subject Tests and the regular SAT in the same day because they are offered at the same time. Some colleges, even some Ivies, do not require the Subject Tests at all if you submit your ACT scores (with writing) instead, so check school by school.

Money for college that does not need to be paid back. Usually awarded based on specific criteria, such as sports and other extracurricular activities, academic performance while in high school, ethnic heritage or religious affiliation. Scholarships can be awarded by individual high schools or through state and national organizations.

This is a federal student loan for college students used to supplement personal and family resources, scholarships, grants, and work-study. A Stafford Loan may be subsidized or unsubsidized, depending on whether it is need-based.

After you file FAFSA you will receive a SAR stating your expected family contribution and eligibility for financial aid. In addition, this report is sent to colleges you indicate on the FAFSA.

Financial aid that must be repaid eventually. Student loan programs are available through both the federal government and private lenders.

This is the degree to which students remain enrolled as members of the college or university community and persist toward graduation.

These loans are need-based loans with interest paid by the government and payments deferred as long as the student is enrolled in a post-secondary program of studies.

Summer programs consist of all different types of activities and levels of rigor. It is important to be doing something with your summer whether that means getting a job or doing a summer camp/program. A few great ideas worth considering include: taking a class at an accredited university (big schools often offer many options), studying abroad, being a camp counselor, doing independent research, job shadowing, and many, many more. Check for a list of summer programs.

Test preparation is a step that many high school students take when preparing for the SAT or ACT. You sign up for a course that is designed to improve your test taking strategy in a class that is tailored specifically to the demands of each individual test. Test prep can be done individually or in a class, depending on the needs of each student.

An official record of courses taken and the grades you received, kept by the registrar at your high school. You must provide a high school transcript with your college application. It is an excellent idea to verify that your transcript is correct before you ask your high school to send it! Also, be sure to request transcripts for applications in September or October, as your school will have a procedure that may take some time to complete.

The cost of attending the college. This does not include books, housing, and other supplies needed.


A student enrolled in a bachelor’s degree program, an associate’s degree program, or a vocational or technical program below the baccalaureate.

A “post-secondary institution” that consists of a liberal arts college, a diverse graduate program, and usually two or more professional schools or faculties, and that is empowered to confer degrees in various fields of study.

This is an online feature offered by some colleges and universities to allow prospective students to view various aspects of campus life without visiting the institutions in person.

An institution that it offers specific career-oriented programs that last from a few months to a couple of years. Most are specialized and offer intense training in one specific skill area.

Volunteering is an extremely important aspect of your high school career. Volunteering is when you donate your time to an organization without being paid for your services. Examples of places you can volunteer include soup kitchens, retirement centers, humane societies or animal shelters, camps, community centers, schools, etc. Get involved and give back to your community! Check for a list of volunteer ideas.

A list of students a college may eventually decide to admit if space becomes available after they know who has committed on May 1st.

The William Ford Direct Loan Program is administered by the U.S. Department of Education to provide loans that help students pay for their post- secondary education.

Financial aid given in exchange for work (usually a job on campus). In order to qualify for the Federal Work Study (FWS) program, you must complete the FAFSA.


The Yellow Ribbon GI Education Enhancement Program (Yellow Ribbon Program) is a provision of the Post-9/11 Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2008. It allows degree granting institutions in the United States to enter into an agreement with The Department of Veteran’s Affairs (VA) to fund tuition expenses that exceed the highest public in-state undergraduate tuition rate. The institution can contribute up to 50% of those expenses and VA will match the same amount as the institution.

The percentage of accepted students who actually go on to enroll at the college. Most competitive colleges have high yield rates. All colleges are very concerned about their yield rates, so the more likely you are to accept their offer, the more likely they are to make it in the first place! Let your top choice school know – beyond a shadow of a doubt – that they are your top choice. Colleges cannot read your mind.