College Admissions Glossary: A-C

on June 15, 2016

Understanding the college application and acceptance process can be complicated when you've never heard them before. We've covered the terms from A-C you'll need to know below, but be sure to check out the rest of our admissions glossaries to ensure you understand everything on your applications.

College Admissions Glossary: D-F
College Admissions Glossary: G-I
College Admissions Glossary: J-O
College Admissions Glossary: P-S
College Admissions Glossary: T-Z

ACT: The ACT is a standardized admissions test that assesses a student's readiness for college-level classes. 

AP: Advanced Placement. Advanced Placement (AP) classes are college-level courses that are offered to high school students for the chance to earn college credit before enrolling in college. The students take an AP test to evaluate mastery of the material. Typically, earning a 4 or 5 on an AP test qualifies for college credit. Requirements may vary depending on the college or university.

Accepted: A student who is accepted by a college or university gains admission to the college or university.

Accredited: An accredited college or university has had its programs evaluated, typically by one of six regional accreditation agencies. A college or university must be accredited for its students to qualify for federal student aid.

Admission: Admission grants entry into a college or university.

Admissions Test: An admissions test is an entrance examination used to measure a student's preparedness for college-level academic work.

Admit-Deny: Admit-deny refers to a student being granted admission to a college, but being denied enough financial aid for the student to afford to enroll at the college.

Advanced Placement: See AP.

Articulation Agreement: An articulation agreement between a community college and 4-year institutions specifies which community college classes are accepted for credit at the 4-year college. An articulation agreement can make it easier for students to transition from one school to the other. Some articulation agreements allow students to enter a four-year school as a junior so long as they've fulfilled the requirements for an Associate's degree at their previous institution.

Associate's Degree: An Associate’s degree is a college degree that is awarded for the completion of a course of study that normally lasts two years.


Award Letter: A financial aid award letter is sent by a college or university to an admitted student, summarizing the types and amount of financial aid awarded to the student.

Bachelor's Degree: A Bachelor’s degree is a college degree that is awarded to students who have completed a course of undergraduate study that normally lasts four or five years.

Certificate: A certificate is a non-degree credential awarded to a student for completion of a course of study that normally lasts a year or less.

Class Rank: Class rank is a relative measure of a student's academic performance as compared to his or her classmates. A student with grades better than 50 percent of his or her classmates would rank in the top half of the class. The student who graduates at the top of his class is usually the valedictorian and the student ranked second is usually the salutatorian.

Coed: Coed is an abbreviation for co-educational, an institution that enrolls both men and women.

College Credit: College credit a numeric measure of the intensity of a college class. Classes that involve a greater number of college credits are typically more challenging and time-consuming. A student needs a certain number of cumulative credits to graduate.

Community College: A community college is a public junior college that offers classes to students from the local area. Community colleges are 2-year institutions that usually award certificates or Associate’s degrees and prepare students for transfer to a 4-year college or university.

Commuter Student: A commuter student is a student who does not live on campus but instead travels to and from school every day.

Conditional Admission: Conditional admission occurs when a college or university accepts a student so long as certain criteria are met, such as maintenance or improvement of academic performance. For example, a student who receives conditional admission may have his or her offer of admission rescinded if the student's final transcripts do not show strong academic performance.

Core Curriculum: A core curriculum is set of general education courses that all students at a college or university are required to take.

Cost of Attendance: The cost of attendance (COA) is the total amount it will cost to attend a school, including tuition, required fees, housing, meal plan, textbooks, supplies, equipment, transportation to and from school and miscellaneous/personal expenses.

Credit Hours: Credit hours are a measure of how much time a student will spend in a class per semester.

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