• The college admissions process has its own vocabulary. Understanding this vocabulary can make the process less mysterious and more accessible to you. Definitions of some key words are listed below.

    • American College Test (ACT): a test which measures aptitude and skill in English, mathematics, reading and natural science. The ACT is more often used in the Midwest, South and Far West.
    • Associate Degree: a degree granted by a college or university for a program that requires two years of full-time study.
    • Common Application: an application form developed and widely accepted by participating colleges and universities.
    • Cooperative Education (Co-op) Program: a program integration classroom study and work experience and offering credit and salary.
    • Deferred Admission: an accepted student can delay entrance by a year (or a semester).
    • Early Action permits you to apply to a college or university of your choice and receive a decision early in the senior year, well in advance of the normal spring response dates. Though you will hear early regarding your admission, you are not committed to attend and you may apply to other colleges. If you are applying for financial aid, you will follow the aid application deadlines set by the institution. You are not required to make a commitment before May 1, but you are encouraged to do so as soon as a final choice is made.
    • Early Decision requires you to commit to a college or university at the time of application that, if admitted, you will enroll. You should apply under an Early Decision plan only if you know that you can make a well reasoned, first choice decision. Upon admission the institution will require a nonrefundable deposit well before May 1. If admitted, you must enroll unless the financial aid award is inadequate.
    • Expected Family Contribution (EFC): the total amount the federal government expects students and their families to pay toward college costs from their income and assets.
    • Fee Waiver: permits eligible students to submit college applications or test registration forms without the fee. A limited number are available through guidance counselors and educational agencies for students who qualify.
    • Financial aid package/award: a combination of grants/scholarships, loans and work-study that the college is able to offer you to meet your financial need.
    • Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA): the primary form used to determine your eligibility for financial aid. Should be filled out in January or February of your senior year.
    • Federal Work Study Program: an award of on-campus part-time employment for students who demonstrate financial need. The maximum amount a student can earn under this program is determined by financial need.
    • Grade Point Average (G.P.A.): a system used to evaluate academic performance. The most frequently used system of numerical values for grades is A=4, B=3, C=2, D=1, and F=0. The G.P.A. is reached by multiplying the number of credits given for a course by the grade received in the course. May be weighted or unweighted.
    • Interview: an interview with you and a representative from college. You will be able to demonstrate qualities that don't show up on your application and to find out more about the college.
    • National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA): an athletic governing body to which approximately 500 small four year colleges and universities belong. The NAIA governs athletic recruitment and scholarship awarding policies.
    • National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA): an athletic governing body to which approximately 800 colleges and universities belong. Each school chooses a general division 1, 2, or 3 and is required to follow the policies regarding recruitment and scholarship awards that have been established for that division.
    • National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (NMSQT): scores from the PSAT's given in October are used to determine if a student qualifies for a National Merit Scholarship.
    • Open Admissions: the college admits all applicants.
    • Preliminary Scholastic Assessment Test (PSAT): this test is an abbreviated form of the SATReasoning Test and is designed to give juniors an opportunity to practice taking a test which is similar but shorter (1 hour) than the SAT Reasoning Test. It is given in October of the junior year. Some sophomore elect to take the PSAT as well.
    • Regular Decision: most colleges have an early winter application deadline (January 1 or 15 or February 1); they generally notify candidates between March 1 and April 12. Students then have until May 1 (the common reply date) to respond to the colleges.
    • Rolling Admission is a term used to describe the application process in which an institution reviews applications as they are received and offers decisions to students soon after they are made. If you are applying for financial aid, you will follow aid application deadlines set by the school. You may apply to other colleges and you will not be required to make a decision regarding enrolling before May 1.
    • Scholarship: a form of financial assistance that does not require repayment and is usually made to a student who shows potential for distinction, usually in academic performance.
    • SAT Reasoning Test: this test, graded on a scale from 200 to 800, measures students' mathematical and verbal ability and writing skill.
    • SAT Subject Tests: one hour tests offered in subjects such as English literature, foreign languages, science, history, and mathematics. Required by selective competitive colleges in order to gain admission.
    • Student Aid Report (SAR): reports the information from your FAFSA.
    • Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL): a test used to evaluate the English proficiency of students whose first language is not English.
    • Unmet Need difference between the cost of education, the total financial aid award + expected family contributions.
    • Wait List is a term used by institutions to describe a process in which they may initially delay offering or denying admission, but rather extend the possibility of admission in the future. Colleges offer admission to wait list candidates if insufficient numbers of regularly admitted candidates accept their offers of admission.