College Definitions

Admission Deadlines
Final date to submit applications for entrance and/or certain programs. These deadlines may be necessary due to limited enrollment space.

Early Action Deadline
An admission plan similar to early decision in that students learn early whether a college has admitted them, but unlike early decision, applicants are not obligated to enroll if admitted.

Early Decision Deadline
An admission plan that allows students to apply early and receive an admission decision from the college well in advance of the usual notification date. Early decision plans are binding. Applicants must commit in advance to attend the early decision college if admitted.

Rolling Admission Deadline
Some colleges process an application for admission as soon as all forms and credentials are received, rather than announcing all admission decisions on one date. However, some colleges still have a set date after which no applications will be reviewed.

Admission Terms

Open Admission
An admission policy that focuses on providing opportunities and admits an applicant who has graduated from an accredited secondary school without regard to grade point average, test scores, or class standing.

Selective Admission
An admission policy that considers academic achievement, recommendations, personal qualities, test scores, personal interviews, community service, hobbies, essays, athletic ability, etc. when evaluating applicants for acceptance. Colleges that require higher levels of accomplishment are considered more selective.

Candidates’ Reply Date Policy
A policy among subscribing colleges which permits candidates to wait to choose, without penalty, among offers of admission and/or financial aid until May 1.

CAS (Course Applicability System)
CAS is a free web-based source for transfer information. Using this easy system, you can obtain accurate information about how your courses will transfer and apply to a degree program.

Credits / Credit Hour
The credit hour is the unit used to measure course work. The number of credit hours assigned to a course is usually defined as the number of hours the class meets per week (e.g. 3 quarter hours = three hours per week of course work for a 10 or 11 week term; 4 semester hours = four hours per week of course work for 15 to 17 weeks).

FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) is the form used to apply for federal and state financial aid, including grants, loans, and work-study programs. Colleges may use this form to determine institutional aid as well.

Grades/Grade Point Average (GPA)
The GPA is the indicator of a student’s overall scholastic performance. A grade point is computed by multiplying the number of grade points earned in each course (generally, A = 4 points, B = 3, C = 2, D = 1, F = 0) times the number of course hours (or credit hours) taken each week. The grade point average is the total of all grade points divided by the total of all credit hours.

The major is a subject or course of study in which the student chooses to specialize; a series of related courses, taken primarily in the junior and senior years.

The Tests: Unscrambling the Letters

The ACT measures educational development in English, mathematics, reading and science reasoning. The optional 30-minute Writing Test measures skill in planning and writing a short essay. Check each prospective college’s requirements to see if you must also take the ACT Writing Test. The ACT is given at specified test centers throughout the year. The composite test score is made up of the four subject area scores which range from 1-36. Nearly half of all test takers fall in the 17-23 range.

AP (Advanced Placement) Tests
AP Tests are designed for students who have completed college level work in high school. They are given in specific subject areas and are used in determining whether or not a student is eligible for advanced standing in college. The tests are given in the spring.

CLEP (College Level Examination Program)
CLEP exams are designed primarily for individuals who may have acquired considerable knowledge outside of school through a job or experience.

Credit By Examination
Some colleges grant college course credit based upon the results of AP or CLEP scores, or another examination developed by the college.

A comprehensive test for the sophomore high school student which measures English, mathematics, reading, and science reasoning. It also provides details about a student’s interests, educational and career plans, knowledge of study skills, and needs. In addition, PLAN serves as an ACT practice test.

The PSAT is designed to provide a practice experience for the SAT in the fall of the sophomore and/or junior year. It also serves to qualify juniors for the National Merit Scholarship competition only if taken in the junior year.

SAT (Reasoning Test)
The SAT Reasoning Test is a four-hour test measuring critical thinking skills given by The College Board at specified test centers throughout the world. The SAT Reasoning Test includes a written essay as well as several multiple choice sections. The SAT is scored on a scale of 200-800 for math, verbal and writing parts of the test, with a total maximum score of 2,400. The average score is 500 for each section of the test.

SAT Subject Tests
The SAT Subject Tests are one-hour multiple-choice tests which measures how much a student knows about a given subject. The tests are offered in over 20 different subjects. Some colleges require specific test scores to be submitted in addition to the ACT or SAT Reasoning Test scores. Check each prospective college’s requirements to see if they require any SAT Subject tests.

The transcript is an official record of high school or college courses and grades, generally required as part of the college application.