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ACT - The American College Testing Program's for high school students, used by colleges and universities for admissions. It consists of four parts: English, math, reading, and science reasoning.

Advanced Placement (AP)- The Advanced Placement program offers more than 30 college level courses at high schools across the USA and Canada. Through AP college-level courses and exams, students can often earn college credit and advanced placement.


Arts & Sciences - The liberal arts division of the college (usually the largest division). Liberal arts are not engineering, business, pharmacy, or nursing. They consist of the humanities; physical, life, and natural sciences; math; and social science disciplines. Many students apply to the arts and sciences division.




Candidate's Reply Date - May l has been designated as the date by which all students must make a commitment to the SINGLE college he or she will attend in the fall.

CEEB - The six-digit high school code most colleges may ask for is called a CEEB (College Entrance Examination Board) code. Your high school counselor will have this information.

College Board- The agency that administers the SAT, SAT Subject tests, and AP exams.

College Representative or Admission Officer - Many colleges send admission officers to high schools to promote their schools and introduce their programs to prospective students. Make sure you attend the visit when the representative comes to your high school.


College Scholarship Service (CSS) - The division of the College Board responsible for the PROFILE and the needs analysis that determines the family's contribution toward payment of a student's education.

Common Application - The Common Application is a form that can be used to apply to over 200 private colleges; college applicants need to fill out only one form. Duplicates of the form serve as applications to participating colleges.


Consortium- An arrangement between two or more schools for the sharing of faculties, facilities, and/or programs. Example Claremont colleges: Claremont McKenna, Pomona, Pitzer, Harvey Mudd, and Pitzer.


Cross-registration- A system whereby students enrolled at one institution may take courses at another institution without having to apply to that school.

CSS Profile- A financial aid form administered by the College Board (required by many private schools.


Deferred Admission - A process by which seniors apply for and are accepted for admission to colleges during their senior year of high school, but choose to enter as freshmen after a one-year absence from school. A deferred admission is a commitment on the part of the college to take the student; a deferred acceptance is a commitment on the part of the student to attend after one year. Check with the college for specifics on deferring your enrollment.

Deposit - An amount of money that a student must send to the college once he or she has been accepted. The deposit indicates that the student accepts the college's offer and will enroll.

Distance Learning- A program of study in which a student takes college courses by correspondence, electronically by computer link or by video link with a traditional classroom.

Dual Degree- A program of study in which a student receives two degrees from the same institution.




Early Action - This is a decision plan allowing students to apply to college early in the fall. The college responds with an admission decision usually by mid-December. It differs from Early Decision because Early Action is non-binding. Check with the schools to which you are applying to see which decision plans they offer.

Early Decision (ED) - This is an early application process that involves a binding agreement on the part of the student. If a student is admitted under ED, he or she agrees to enroll at a particular college and to withdraw all other applications in process at other schools. 

ETS - The Educational Testing Service is a nonprofit agency employed by the CEEB to produce the SAT and SAT subject tests.




FAFSA - The Free Application for Federal Student Aid form, which is available online, must be submitted for a student to receive federal financial aid. 

4-4-1 System- An academic calendar consisting of two semesters plus a short session for nontratditional study programs. The short session may be called a May Term.

4-1-4 System- An academic calendar consisting of two semesters separated by a short intersession (usually in January).



GPA (Grade Point Average)- The translation of a student's letter grades into a numberic system. Most commonly, A=4, B=3, C=2. D=1.  Weighted grades for AP's, A=5, B=4, C=3, D=1.

Grant - An amount of money given (rather than loaned or earned) to a student for a specified time of study or research. Certain grants are based on need, as are the federal Pell Grant and state grants.


Guaranteed Tuition- A program that guarantees to qualified students that their tuition for each succeeding year of college will not increase above their first-year rate.


Honors Program- A program for superior students involving enrichment of the curriculum.




IEP (Individualized Educational Plan)- A document outlining specific academic goals and strategies to enable the learning disabled student to successfully complete his or her courses.

Interdisciplinary Study- Study that takes place across academic disciplines rather than within one discipline.

Internships- Short-term, supervised work experience, generally relating to the student's field of interest.








Liberal Arts - A broad undergraduate program of education stressing the core courses; pre-professional training is often also available.


Loans - The most commonly used loans are: Federal Stafford Loan- Obtained from a local bank, with the interest paid by the federal government while the student attends college. Repayment begins six months after completing (or leaving) college. Federal Perkins Loan- Carries the lowest interest rates and is offered through the college as part of a financial aid package. Parent Loan Program (PLUS)- Parents borrow from participating banks; repayment begins 60 days after inception of the loan.




Major - A subject of academic study chosen as a field of specialization.

Merit Scholarships - Money given to students to cover college expenses without regard for financial need, such as athletic scholarships, academic scholarships, music scholarships, etc.




NACAC - The National Association for College Admission Counseling is a professional organization of college admission counselors and high school guidance counselors who set standards and goals by which admission professionals work.

National Merit Scholarship Program - This program offers qualified students scholarships on the basis of PSAT scores, course work, grades, leadership, interests, goals, and school recommendations.

NCAA Clearinghouse - This agency certifies that athletes hoping to play Division I or II sports in college have met minimal academic requirements. It's suggested that student-athletes register with the NCAA in September of the senior year.


Need-Based Aid- College-funded or college-administered award from institutional, state, federal, or other sources for which a student must have financial need to qualify.

Need-Blind Admission- An admission process that does not consider an applicant's ability to pay as a factor in the admissions decision.

NMSQT - The National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test is the PSAT (Preliminary Student Aptitude Test). Scores on the PSAT are used by the National Merit Scholarship Program, in combination with other student attributes, to determine scholarship recipients.






PROFILE - The form used by the College Scholarship Service (CSS) to assess a family's ability to pay for a college education. After information is analyzed, a complete report is sent to institutions designated by the student. Need-based financial aid is awarded according to the results. You must register with CSS (online) to begin the PROFILE registration process.

PSAT - Preliminary SAT, the qualifying test for National Merit Scholarship consideration when taken in October of the junior year.




Quarter System- A calendar in which the academic year is divided into four equal units of 9-11 weeks each. Under a quarter system, students normally enroll in three of the four quarters each year.




Regular Decision - This is the most common admission program. Applications for admission are due sometime between October l and January l5 at most colleges; applicants are notified of their admission status between February 1 and April l5.


Rolling Admission - With many state universities that operate with Rolling Admission, the earlier you apply, the better the chance for acceptance. As soon as applications arrive at a college, the admission office starts reading them and making decisions--often within three or four weeks. Usually, if you are accepted under this plan, you will not have to commit until May l.




SAT - The abbreviation for the standardized college entrance test offered by the College Board.

SAT Subject Tests - A series of l6 subject-area exams sponsored by the College Board and administered by the Educational Testing Service. Students may take one, two, or three exams on any test date. Test subjects include areas such as English Literature, American History, World History, Math I or II, Latin, Foreign Language, Biology, Chemistry, and Physics. Tests are scored on a scale of 200-800. Information about these tests can be obtained from the high school guidance office or online at


Scholarship - Money given to students demonstrating high academic achievement, outstanding leadership, or special interests or talents. This money may be used for payment of all or part of college expenses and is not required to be paid back.


Single Choice Early Action - This is a decision plan allowing students to apply to ONE college early in the fall. The college responds with an admission decision usually by mid-December. It differs from Early Decision because Early Action is non-binding. Check with the schools to which you are applying to see which decision plans they offer.

Student Aid Report (SAR) - The form sent to families after submission of the FAFSA. The SAR will include the government's calculation of the Expected Family Contribution, a figure that will be sent to each college for determination of aid.




3-2 Program- A cooperative academic program whereby a student attends one institution for three years and another for two, and is granted two degrees.

TOEFL - Test of English as a Foreign Language, which is offered to assess knowledge of written and spoken English for students whose native language is not English.

Transcript - The official record from a school showing the student's grade records, list of courses taken, and cumulative Grade Point Average. An official transcript, sent directly from the high school to the college admission office, is always required for a student to be admitted.

Trimester System- A calendar in which the academic year is divided into three units. Sometimes called the quarter system.








Wait List - The number of qualified candidates at a selective college who initially receive neither a letter of acceptance nor a letter of denial, but who may be offered a place in the freshman class after the Candidates' Reply Date, if the class is nor filled by those initially offered admission. Some colleges may go to the Wait List as late as July or even August. Students who receive a Wait List letter may be asked if they want to remain on it.

Work-Study - A special federally sponsored college program combining class hours and work hours on the campus. Pay is usually minimum wage or slightly above for approximately l0-l5 hours per week. The earnings from the job are used as part of a financial aid plan to help pay for tuition and other college expenses

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