ASSOCIATE DEGREE – a type of degree awarded typically by a community college following two years of college. An A.A. (Associates of Arts) or A.S. (Associates of Science) is typically awarded to students who successfully complete programs designed for transfer to a baccalaureate-granting institution (see bachelor’s degree). An AAS (Associate of Applied Science) degree is awarded to students who successfully complete a degree program designed for direct entry into a specific career.

    BACHELOR’S DEGREE (Baccalaureate degree) – a type of degree awarded by a university, typically following four years of college.

    CANDIDATE NOTIFICATION DATE – The date by which a student must notify a college of their decision to attend or not. Typically May 1 is the national confirmation deadline.

    THE COMMON APPLICATION – Some colleges & universities are a member of The Common Application. This undergraduate application allows for one form to be submitted to multiple schools in hopes of simplifying the application process.

    THE COALITION APPLICATION – Several colleges and universities have joined the Coalition for Access, Affordability, and Success. This application platform is only open to U.S. colleges and universities that provide need-based financial aid or low-cost in-state tuition, and have a six-year graduation rate of at least 70%.

    DEFERRED DECISION – A student may have applied early action or early decision, but their application is moved to regular decision. This typically allows for additional time for the student to submit additional materials and/or for the admission committee to take more time with the application before making a final decision.

    EARLY ACTION – a non-binding application option where applicants receive a decision regarding their candidacy much earlier than other applicants, but with no obligation to enroll or withdraw their applications from other colleges.

    EARLY DECISION – a binding application option where applicants receive a decision regarding their candidacy much earlier than other applicants. In exchange, the applicant -  if admitted -  will immediately accept the offer of admission and withdraw their applications from other institutions.

    GPA – “Grade Point Average.” Most colleges will use your GPA as part of the admission process. Some will recalculate weighted grades. It is essentially a record of your academic performance in high school.

    MATRICULATE – the process of enrolling in a college or university.

    NEED-BLIND ADMISSIONS – An admission policy where a college or university will have no knowledge of financial background or parent employment as part of the admission decision making process.

    REGULAR ADMISSION – The traditional admission process timeline with no restrictions or early deadlines. Colleges notify applicants of their acceptance in the spring of their senior year.

    RESTRICTED EARLY ACTION – similar to Early Action, except that the college has placed some additional restrictions on their applicants. For example, you may be able to apply early action to all but a few competing schools.

    ROLLING ADMISSIONS – application process that offers students the opportunity to apply in a large window of time and applications are reviewed on a rolling basis.

    SCHOOL PROFILE – summary report of information about a high school’s enrollment, curriculum, and grading system. Typical sent to colleges and universities to help them know more about the high school if they are unfamiliar.

    SECONDARY SCHOOL REPORT – Often a part of The Common Application. A form that your high school counselor completes including class rank, GPA, school profile, and a letter of recommendation.

    STUDENT SEARCH – When taking the PSAT or SAT you have the option of sharing your information with colleges and universities. Colleges will communicate with College Board and send brochures to particular students based on the profile.

    TRANSCRIPT – Your academic record including list of courses and final grades, GPA, class rank, test scores. Please visit the “forms” section of the counseling page to access the transcript request form.

    UNDERGRADUATE – a student at a college or university working to complete their bachelor’s degree.

    VIEW BOOK – a brochure produced by a college or university describing their campus environment, academic programs, housing, athletics, etc.

    WAIT LIST – Some colleges and universities maintain a waitlist as part of their admissions process. If students decline their offer of admissions or more room in the class becomes available, the school may begin to offer additional acceptance offers to those listed on the waitlist.

    WORK-STUDY – a federal program that provides a portion of the financial aid package through on-campus employment.


    EFC – Expected Family Contribution. A number calculated based on the completion of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) that helps to determine an applicant’s eligibility for federal student aid. Each college will use this number to package a financial aid award.

    CSS PROFILE – an additional form to apply for financia aidl. Some colleges require both the CSS Profile and the FAFSA to determine your financial aid/scholarship eligibility.

    FAFSA – Free Application for Federal Student Aid. This is the financial aid application used by all colleges and universities to determine the amount of federal aid/scholarships to be awarded.

    FEDERAL PERKINS LOAN PROGRAM – A low-interest rate federal loan awarded to students who demonstrate exceptional financial need. Must be repaid.

    PELL GRANT- Federal grant awarded to undergraduate students who have demonstrated financial need. Unlike a loan this grant does not have to be repaid.

    STUDENT AID REPORT (SAR) – a paper or electronic document that provides some basic information about your eligibility for federal student aid with your answers to the questions on your FAFSA.


    ACT – The American College Test. The ACT is similar to the SAT I and can be used to meet the test requirement for some colleges. The exam is scored on a scale of 1 to 36 and covers four curricular areas: English usage, mathematics, reading and science.

    AP – Advanced Placement tests are administered by the College Board and provide the opportunity to earn college credit at some universities while still enrolled in high school.

    ASVAB- a multiple-aptitude battery that measures developed abilities and helps predict future academic and occupational success in the military.

    COLLEGE BOARD – Nonprofit Corporation aimed at connecting students with college success and opportunity. They design and administer the SAT and AP exams, but are also involved in research and advocacy on behalf of students, educators and schools.

    PSAT/NMSQT – Preliminary Scholastic Assessment Test and National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test. Exam offered through the College Board as a preparation assessment for the SAT.

    PLAN – A practice exam for the ACT administered during the sophomore year.

    SAT – Scholastic Assessment Test. Can be used to meet the test requirement for some colleges. The exam was redesigned to provide a focused and useful assessment to reflect what students had already been learning in their classrooms.

    SAT II SUBJECT TESTS – Additional assessment offered by The College Board for a variety of subjects such as writing, history, math, science, and foreign languages. Some highly selective institutions require these exams.

    TOEFL - Test of English as a Foreign Language. Students for whom English is not their first language may take this exam to demonstrate English proficiency to U.S. Colleges and Universities. Exam covers grammar, vocabulary, and listening.