Admission Lingo

Student in sculpture garden

There are so many college specific words and phrases, it is easy to get lost in the first sentence of a shiny brochure, welcome speech for an Open House, or college webpage. 

Use this guide to help you negotiate the uncertainty of the college admission process.


College Lingo

4 and 6 year Graduation Rate: These are statistics that colleges and universities use to show what percentage of the students who start at a college earn a degree within a four year and six year window. 

4 year vs 2 year school: A two year program likely results in an associate’s degree and/or a professional certificate while a four year program most commonly results in a bachelor’s degree. 

ACT: The ACT is a test that is used widely by college and university admission offices to compare student test takers. The ACT assesses students’ ability in four distinct areas of study: English, mathematics, reading and science reasoning. There is an also an optional writing test required by some selective universities. 

Admission Requirements: These are documents or levels of achievement in high school that are expected by a college or university in order to be considered for admission into that school. 

AP (Advance Placement): AP courses are rigorous, college-level classes offered in a variety of subjects to students who have not yet graduated from high school. After completion of an AP course (on the same date across the United States) all students in that class take the College Board standardized test. Scores range from 1 to 5 and could result in gaining a college credit. (Albright requires a 4+ on the exam to earn credit.)

Campus Interview: This is a talk between a student and an admission representative of the college or university for admission consideration. Campus interviews are rarely required.

Campus Visit/Tour: Learn about a college first hand, via information sessions and campus tours offered by the college admission office. This allows for prospective students and families to visit various campus buildings, meet faculty and staff, and get a look at campus life. 

CEEB number: This numeric code identifies a specific college and campus, created by the College Board, to prevent confusion and make sure application materials go to the right places. (If needed, your school counselor can provide this number for you). 

COA: “Cost of Attendance” is the figure provided by colleges that estimates the total costs of attending that particular school for a period of one academic year.

Common Application: Admission application students can use the Common App to apply to more than 800 member schools. It makes it possible for students to use a single admission application to apply to multiple member colleges and universities. 

Composite Score: This includes all scores from separate sections of a particular test, added together. On the SAT, this is the total of Evidence-Based Reading, plus the Writing score and the Math score. On the ACT, it is the total of the English, Reading, Math and Science sections (the optional Writing portion is not factored into the composite).

CSS profile: This is a financial form required by many colleges to determine eligibility for non-government financial aid like institutional grants. (Albright College does not require a CSS profile.)

Demonstrated Interest: This means how much a student shows a school they are genuinely interested in coming to their college or university. It is often used as one of the admission criteria for many competitive schools. 

Division I, II and III: This is a National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) designation. About 2% of high school athletes are awarded some form of athletic scholarship to compete on Division I or II teams. The majority of college student-athletes play for Division III schools. While Division III schools do not offer athletics scholarships, their academics-first approach results in 75% of student-athletes receiving merit or need-based financial aid.

Early Action: A type of early admission process where high school students apply to colleges and universities in the United States early in the first semester of their senior year and learn a decision usually in December.

Early Decision: An admission program designed for students who know a particular school is their number one choice. It is a requirement of Early Decision Applicants applying to an institution to commit to enroll if admitted, and all other applications the student has submitted to other colleges must be withdrawn. (Albright does not have an Early Decision application.) 

Estimated Family Contribution or “EFC”: A measure of a family’s financial ability to pay for a student’s education. This is calculated through a standardized formula that combines assets, benefits, untaxed income, etc. shown on a student’s FAFSA.

FAFSA (the Free Application for Federal Student Aid): This universally-mandatory financial form is used to determine a family’s eligibility for federal, state and institutional student aid programs. A FAFSA must be completed and filed each year (by May 1) a student attends college. 

FSA (Federal Student Aid): Through Federal Student Aid, the U.S. Department of Education awards more than $120 billion a year in grants, work-study funds and low-interest loans to approximately 13 million students.

Federal Work Study: Students are hired in campus jobs as part of their financial aid packages. Students must complete the FAFSA to qualify for Federal Work Study.

Federal School Code: This unique number is used by the Department of Education to send your FAFSA information to a school. You must list the school’s Federal School Code on your FAFSA. (Albright’s School Code is 003229).

First Year Seminars: These classes aim to develop critical thinking, reading comprehension, test-taking and other skills needed for college success. At Albright, all new first-year (freshman) students must complete this requirement. 

Institutional Financial Aid: These grants and scholarships are provided by individual college or universities on a need-based and/or merit-based decision. They are considered gift aid, and therefore no repayment is required. This is generally money that has been given by college alumni to invest in the next generation of students. 

Major/Co-Major/Minor: A major is a single academic concentration consisting of approximately 9-12 classes. A co-major combines two academic programs to create one major. A minor is a secondary concentration of approximately five classes in a specific field.

Middle States Accreditation: A college-wide review conducted every 10 years by a nonprofit association that evaluates public and private institutions in the Mid-Atlantic region and deems them worthy of recognition and operation. 

Need Based Aid vs Merit Based Aid: Merit-based aid is funding provided by a college or university without regard for financial need. This type of aid is referred to in letters as academic scholarships or awards. Need-based aid is based on a family’s financial need, which — at Albright — is determined by the FAFSA.

Need-Blind vs. Need-Aware: Need-aware schools consider a student’s finances during admission decisions, while need-blind schools do not.

Net Price Calculator: Students and families can use this tool to receive an estimate of a student’s financial aid package prior to applying to a school.

Parent PLUS Loan: The Direct PLUS Loan is a federal student loan program made to a parent or legal guardian of a dependent student to help cover the cost of the student’s education.

Payment Plan: A tool used to spread tuition payments over the whole year rather than paying for each semester before it begins. Albright offers interest free, monthly payment plans. Additional information can be found at albright.afford.com.

Pell Grant Program: This is the largest federal grant program with eligibility is based on federal guidelines.

Prerequisites: These are courses that must be taken before enrolling in another (often higher-level) course.

Private Student Loan: Student loans offered by banks and independent lending institutions which have their own requirements for approval, interest rates, limits, processing fees and repayment conditions.

PSAT (Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test): An exam given in 9th or 10th grade to prepare for the SAT.

Public vs. Private College: The major difference between public and private colleges and universities is how they are funded. Public schools are partially funded by state governments while private schools are not. Albright College is a private, nonprofit college.

Retention Rate: Percentage of a school’s first time, first year undergraduate students who continue at that same school the following year. 

Rolling admission: An admission policy with a very large window for submission of an application and multiple decision release dates based on time of application.

SAR (Student Aid Report): This is an electronic document that gives basic, personalized information on eligibility for federal student aid. It is located on the FAFSA.

SAT (Scholastic Aptitude Test): Many colleges require this exam for admission. It is usually administered world-wide on the first weekend of the month.

School Profile: This is an overview of a high school’s academic program, grading system, GPA scale, course offerings and statistics used in an admission review.

Stafford Loan (Direct Student Loan Program): Federal loan for college students to supplement other aid. These loans may be subsidized (federal government pays the interest while a student is in college) or unsubsidized (interest begins accruing as soon as the loan is taken out).

Student to Faculty Ratio and Classroom Size: The student to faculty ratio is the number of students who attend a college or university divided by the number of faculty at that institution. Average classroom size pertains to the average number of students in each class taught at that institution. Albright College’s ratio of 14:1 means that — on average — there is one faculty member for every 14 students. And Albright has an average class size of 15 students.

Subsidized Stafford Direct Loan: These are need-based loans. No interest is charged before repayment. The federal government will pay the interest while the student is enrolled in school at least half-time or during periods of deferment.

Superscore: The process by which colleges consider your highest section scores across all the dates you took a particular test. Rather than confining your scores to one particular date, these schools will take your highest section scores, forming the highest possible composite score.

Supporting Documents: The parts of an application needed prior to admission. Common documents requested are transcript, SAT/ACT scores, an essay, and/or recommendation letters.

Tuition/Room and Board/Fees: Total cost for the college includes full-time tuition costs, room expenses, meal plans and additional fees. 

Unsubsidized Stafford Direct Loan: This money is not awarded on the basis of need. Interest will be charged from the time the loan is disbursed until it is paid in full. 

Verification: The process in which a financial aid office is required by the government to test the accuracy of information reported by parents and students on the FAFSA.

Waitlist: Students on a waitlist may be offered admission if space becomes available in an incoming class. These students are usually marginally qualified in comparison to the rest of the class.

 

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