Academic Advisor: A faculty member who helps and advises students on academic matters, such as planning their academic career


Academic Probation: A status or a period in which students with a very low GPA must improve their academic performance. Failing to do so may lead to being dismissed from the school, ultimately ejecting from the US. Students may also face disciplinary probation for non-academic reasons.


Academic Year: The period of the year during which students attend school or university


Accreditation: If an educational qualification or institution is accredited, it is officially declared to be of an approved standard.


ACT (American College Testing): A standardized test used for college admissions in the US.


Add/Drop: The period at the beginning of a term when students can sign up for new courses and drop courses for which they were previously registered without an instructor’s permission.


AP (Advanced Placement): A program in the US that offers college-level curricula and examinations to high school students. Colleges and universities may grant placement and course credits to students who obtain high scores on the examinations.


Associate Degree: Completion of an associate degree indicates the student has completed a course of study equivalent to the first two years of a bachelor’s degree.

B-1/2 Visa: A temporary, non-immigrant visa that allows the holder to travel to the United States for either business or tourism purposes.


Bachelor Degree: A degree awarded by a college or university to a person who has completed his or her undergraduate studies.

College: 1. An institution of higher education that grants degrees, such as a bachelor’s degree after a four-year course or an associate degree after a two-year course. 2. The undergraduate division of a university (eg. Harvard College) 3. Any of the schools of a university offering instruction and granting degrees in specialized courses of study (eg. University of Michigan’s Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning)


College Transfer: The process of changing from one college or university to another to complete a degree.


Common Application: A single online college application form used by over 900 colleges and universities in the US.


Community College: A public, two-year postsecondary institution that offers the associate degree. Also known as a “junior college.”


Credits (/Units): A standard measurement of a student’s progress towards a degree. For example, at universities and colleges, you will need to accumulate a certain number of credits to be able to graduate and be awarded a bachelor’s degree.


Credit Transfer: Getting credit for courses completed at one institution when switching to another. For instance, students who transfer from a community college to a four-year university will earn transfer credits from the university.

Dean’s List: An academic award for students who earned a certain grade point average (GPA) in a term.


Deferral (/deferred admission): A school’s act of postponing a student’s Early Decision (ED) or Early Action (EA) application to the Regular Decision (RD) round.


Deferral (/deferred entry):  A student’s act of postponing enrollment after acceptance offer with the school’s approval.


Doctorate Degree: One of several degrees granted by a graduate school, usually the most advanced degree someone can get in an academic discipline.


Double Major: Pursuing a degree with a concentration in two separate fields of study.

Early Action (EA): An application procedure offered by some colleges and universities that allows students to submit their applications earlier and receive their decisions earlier.


Early Decision (ED): An application procedure offered by some colleges and universities that allows students to submit an application to their first-choice school earlier and receive their decisions earlier. Due to the binding nature of Early Decision, students are not permitted to apply to more than one Early Decision program. If the student is admitted, he or she is required to enroll in that particular school and withdraw all applications to other schools.


Electives: Courses students can choose outside their major or compulsory courses.


Elementary School: Schools that provide education to students coming between Grades K / 1 through 6.


ESL (English as a Second Language): A course used to teach English to students whose first language is not English.

F-1 Visa: A non-immigrant student visa for full-time study at an accredited college, university, academic high school, or other academic institution or in a language training program. Students must be enrolled in a program or course of study that culminates in a degree, diploma, or certificate and your school must be authorized by the U.S. government to accept international students.


Freshman: A first-year student at a high school, college, or university.


Full-time Student: A student who is enrolled in at least the minimum number of credits (often 12) at a post-secondary academic institution to meet the requirement of a full-time course load.

General Education: Designed to promote critical thinking across multiple subjects, students gain a broader understanding of a range of topics by taking general education courses. These courses are usually taken in the first two years of undergraduate study and typically it consists of English, Mathematics, Natural Science, Arts and Humanities, and Social Sciences.


GMAT (Graduate Management Admission Test): A standardized test used for admission to a graduate program, usually in the business or management fields.


GPA (Grade Point Average): An indicator of a student’s overall academic performance. Typically, a 4.0 corresponds to an “A”, a 3.0 to a “B”, a 2.0 to a “C”, a 1.0 to a “D”, and 0.0 to an “E” or “F”. Each of a student’s grade is converted to a number and weighted according to the number of credits received from the course. The weighted average of all courses taken is the student’s cumulative GPA.


Graduate Student: A student with a first degree from a university who is studying or doing research at a more advanced level, likely pursuing a master’s degree or doctoral degree.


GRE (Graduate Record Examination): A standardized test used for admission to a graduate program.

High School: Schools that provide education for students coming between Grades 9 through 12.


High School Completion Program: Program in which students, aged 16 or above, can enroll in a community college where they will receive their high school diplomas after the successful completion of their associate’s degrees.

International Student: A student who is a citizen of a country other than the United States.

J-1 Visa: A non-immigrant exchange visitor visa for individuals to participate in a study-based exchange visitor program.


Junior: A third-year student at a high school, college, or university.

Lecture: A common method of instruction in college and university courses.


Letter of Recommendation: A letter of reference that vouches for a specific person based on their characteristics and qualifications, often included as part of an application for college admission.


Liberal Arts Education: A curriculum intended to provide general knowledge of a wide range of subjects as opposed to only a specific professional or technical subject, to develop a student’s critical thinking and a range of other transferable skills.


Liberal Arts College: A postsecondary institution that emphasizes an undergraduate education in liberal arts education. The majority of liberal arts colleges, as compared to universities, have smaller student bodies, rely heavily on student participation, and encourage a high level of student-teacher interaction, mentorship, and collaboration. There are also more staff members dedicated to teaching full-time rather than a combination of graduate student teaching assistants and research professors.


Lower Division Courses: Courses offered at the freshman or sophomore level.

Major: A student’s specialized field of study.


Master’s degree: A graduate-level degree awarded to a person who has completed a program of study in a specific field or area of professional practice beyond the bachelor’s degree.


Middle School (/Junior High): Schools that provide education for students coming between Grades 7 and 8.


Minor: A student’s secondary field of study, but less specialized than a major.

Orientation: A course or program offered to help new students to become familiar with the school and to adjust to the new environment.

Pass-Fail: A grading system in which only “Pass” or “Fail” is recorded instead of a specific score or letter grade.


Placement Test: A test given by the school to determine the academic level of new students to place them in appropriate courses.


Plagiarism: Presenting someone else’s work or ideas as your own, with or without their consent, by incorporating it into your work without full acknowledgment. Plagiarism is taken very seriously in the US, students may be dismissed from the school or may receive a grade of F for the course.


Prerequisite: A course or other requirement that a student must have before enrolling in a specific course or program.

Quarter: A system that divides the academic year into four sessions: fall, winter, spring, and summer. With a quarter system, each session lasts approximately ten weeks. Quarter systems are most commonly used at colleges offering associate’s degrees – primarily community colleges.

Registration: Process which students select courses to be taken.


Regular Decision (RD): The most common type of deadline that applies to most applications. When applying through regular decisions, there is no limit to the number of schools a student can apply to. If more than one college grants acceptance to the student, he or she can freely choose whichever one to attend.


Rolling Admissions: The admission process some schools run on which there is no hard deadline to apply. Applications are evaluated as soon as they are received, and schools with this policy will continue to make decisions until all spaces are filled.

Semester: A system that divides the academic year into two sessions: fall and spring. Each session is approximately 15 weeks long, with a winter break between the fall and spring sessions and a summer break after the spring session. About 90% of colleges in the United States run on the semester system.


Senior: A fourth-year student at a high school, college, or university.


Sophomore: A second-year student at a high school, college, or university.


Standardized Test: A test that is administered and scored in a consistent, or “standard” manner. These tests are intended to provide a common measure for comparing the abilities of students who come from a variety of educational backgrounds and institutions. Examples of standardized tests include SAT, ACT, TOEFL, IELTS, GRE, GMAT, etc.


Syllabus: An outline of all the essential information about a college course. It lists the topics that will be covered, as well as the due dates and grading policies of any coursework including tests, quizzes, or exams.

Transcript: An official record of a student throughout a course of study, having full enrollment history including all courses attempted, grades earned, awards, and degrees conferred.


Trimester: A system that divides the academic year into three sessions: fall, winter, and spring. Each trimester is approximately 12-13 weeks long. Many US middle schools and high schools use the trimester system.

Undergraduate Student: A student who is pursuing his or her first degree at a college or university.


Upper Division: Courses offered at the junior level or higher.

Waitlist: A list of qualified or borderline applicants of a school for whom the admissions office cannot offer definite acceptances at that moment. Waitlisted students may be offered admission if there is space available after all admitted students have made their decisions. Being on a waitlist does not guarantee eventual admission.


Withdrawal: The action of dropping a course (after the Add/Drop period) or leaving a university.