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The College Admissions Glossary

October 22, 2013 :: Admissionado Team

When you’re applying to college, you gotta speak the language. Learn how to talk the talk before you walk into college application-land with our college admissions glossary:

Acceptance: You are IN for regular enrollment. Time for a happy dance.

ACT (American College Testing): A roughly three-hour, four-subject college entrance exam (English, math, reading, and science) with an optional writing section. You’ll need a No.2 pencil and a granola bar. And probably a nap afterwards.

Advanced Placement (AP): College-level classes taught in high school with the added bonus of a final exam in April. Good for college apps. Bad for sleep.

Application Deadline: The date your applications are due. DO NOT miss this date. Unless you want to live with your parents for another year.

Candidates Reply Date Agreement (CRDA): An agreement that says you’ve got until May 1 to accept or decline offers of admission.

Class Rank: A measure of where you stand compared to your classmates, usually calculated with GPA. Try not to ask your peers to tell you their class rank. This never ends well.

College Credit:  If you complete a college-level course (AP), you might get college credit toward your degree, and you can graduate early. But who wants to spend less time in college? Unless you’re an extreme type A personality, that is.

Common Application: The one app to rule them all. The Common App lets you use one application to apply to all its over 500 colleges and universities. Streamlines the process.

Cost of Attendance (COA): Your total college expenses – tuition, room and board, books, transportation, and any personal expenses. Check please!

Deferred Admission: A term usually used with early applicants (early decision, action, etc…) that means you haven’t been admitted, but you’ll be reconsidered in regular admissions. Chin up!

Deferred Enrollment: You are IN, but you want to take a semester or year off before you enroll (for a good reason).

Denial: You didn’t get an offer, but maybe this isn’t the school for you. If they liked it then they should have put an acceptance letter on it.

Early Action: You apply by the early deadline with no obligation to enroll if you’re accepted.

Early Decision: You apply by the early deadline and you’re committed to enroll if you’re accepted.  There’s no getting out of this one.

Financial Aid: Money given or loaned to you to pay for college. Can come from the federal government, state government, colleges, or private organizations. Free money if you need it! (A lot of people do.)

Grade Point Average (GPA):  All your high school grades averaged out to one number.  Usually out of four (as in 3.5/4.0) but varies by school.  See Weighted GPA.

Legacy Applicant:  Someone with a relative who graduated from the college/university. Example: “My grandfather built the entire medical school and started a scholarship in my name.”

Need-Blind Admission: Admissions decisions made without considering your financial circumstances – great for applying to college, but bad dating advice.

Notification Date: The day when application decisions come out. Also known as D-Day.

PLAN Test: Usually taken sophomore year to prepare for the ACT.

PSAT:  Taken junior year to prepare students for the SAT and is used to decide the National Merit Scholarship and other academic awards.

Rolling Admissions: Rather than have set deadlines, some schools review and complete applications as they get ‘em.

SAT (Scholastic Aptitude Test): The most widely used college entrance exam administered by the College Board. It’s a three-hour, three-subject test (verbal, math, writing). Each section is scored out of 800, for a perfect score of 2400. A common cause of groans and teeth gnashing.

SAT Subject Test: AKA SAT II tests.  Offered in many subject areas including English, math, foreign languages, history, and science.  Some colleges (especially top schools) require students to take one or more SAT subject tests. (“Wait, you mean there are MORE SAT exams for me to take? I thought I was done?”)

Tuition: The sticker price of your college, which includes the cost of your college courses, but not including living expenses.

Transcript: The official document with all of your academic and testing history. Do not try to use this as your passport.

Waitlist: You’re sort of in, but not really. You’ll be offered a place only if there is space after fully admitted students make their decisions.

Weighted GPA: GPA that’s calculated with a higher point value given to more difficult classes.  For example, some high schools give a 5.0 (instead of a 4.0) for an A in an honors or AP class.

Got some more terms that we missed? Send them along to us and we’ll add them for you!

By Tiffany Chen, Admissionado Senior Editor