Words About College You Might Need to Know
TYPES OF POST-SECONDARY INSTITUTIONS
College: An institution of higher learning, often referred to as a “four-year” institution, which grants the bachelor's degree in liberal arts or science or both.
Community College: Community colleges, sometimes called junior colleges, technical colleges, or city colleges, are primarily two-year public institutions providing higher education and lower-level courses, granting certificates, diplomas, and associate's degrees. Many also offer continuing and adult education. After graduating from a community college, some students transfer to a four-year liberal arts college or university for two to three years to complete a bachelor's degree.
Institute of Technology: A school that specializes in subjects such as engineering, physics, chemistry, and math.
Liberal Arts College: A college where students are free to study a wide variety of different subjects during their undergraduate years
Private Institution: This is a college or university funded by private sources without any control by a government agency. The cost of attending a private institution is generally higher than the cost at a public institution.
Public Institution: A college or university that receives public funding, primarily from a local, state, or national government that oversees and regulates the school’s operations is considered a public institution.
Trade School: A school that specializes in career readiness in fields such as hairdressing, cosmetology, and auto mechanics.
University: A school that includes many different schools—such as a college of nursing and a college of business—and that has graduate students.
TYPES OF POST-SECONDARY DEGREES
A.A.: This stands for an "associate of arts" degree, which can be earned at most two-year colleges.
B.A. or B.S.: B.A. stands for "bachelor of arts," and B.S. stands for "bachelor of science." Both degrees can be earned at four-year colleges.
Certificates: In an economy that increasingly rewards specialization, more and more institutions are offering certification programs, typically a package of five or six courses, for credit or not, taken over three to 18 months. Some cost a few thousand dollars, others much more.
HIGH SCHOOL COURSES AND COLLEGE
College Readiness: The courses students take in high school show colleges how ready they are for college-level classes. Colleges want to know if a student is signing up for advanced classes or honors sections, if they are choosing electives that their abilities—or are they doing just enough to get by.
Electives: Courses students may select to meet total graduation requirements. Colleges will be more impressed by respectable grades in challenging courses than by outstanding grades in easy ones.
GPA (Grade Point Average): The GPA is figured by averaging the numerical value of a student's grades: A=4, B=3, C=2, D=1, F=0. It is cumulative, starting freshman year; grades count every year. A poor GPA in ninth grade can drag down the overall average, despite, for example, good grades junior year. The higher the GPA the better, but colleges also look at academic levels: a “B” in a hard class can be worth more than an “A” in an easy class.
Honors Classes: The difference between a regular class (such as English 1) and the honors class (English 1 Honors) is not necessarily the amount of work, but the type of work required and the pace of studying. Honors courses are not advanced in the same sense that high school
Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate courses are. Rather, honors courses are enriched; they offer the same material in greater depth and with a faster pace.
FIRST GENERATION COLLEGE STUDENTS
First Generation: Often, first-generation students are categorized simply as those who are the first in their family to attend college.
COLLEGE APPLICATION VOCABULARY
Application: A college application is part of the competitive college admissions system. Admissions departments usually require students to complete an application for admission that generally consists of academic records, personal essays, letters of recommendation, and a list of extracurricular activities. Most schools require the SAT or ACT. Deadlines for admission applications are established and published by each college or university.
College Essay: A brief composition on a single subject, required by many colleges as part of the application process for admission.
Common Application: The Common Application (informally known as the Common App) makes it possible for students to use one admissions application to apply to any of 456 member colleges and universities. There is a Common Application for First-Year Admission and a Common Application for Transfer Admission. Both versions allow the application to be filled out once online and submitted to all schools with the same information going to each. >> Common App
Early Action: Early action is when a prospective student applies for admission by early deadline(before the regular admission deadline) and receives notice of acceptance, denial, or deferment with no obligation to the university to enroll, if accepted for admission.
Early Decision: Through this program offered by many post-secondary schools, students willing to commit to a school if accepted submit their application by a date well before the general admission deadline. If accepted, the student must enroll in that school, so students should only apply early decision to their first choice school.
Need-Blind Admission: Full consideration of an applicant and his or her application without regard to the individual’s need for financial aid.
Open Admissions: Or open enrollment, is a type of unselective and noncompetitive college admissions process in the United States in which the only criterion for entrance is a high school diploma or a certificate of attendance or General Educational Development (GED) certificate.
Recommendations: Statements or letters of endorsement written on a student’s behalf
during the college application process.
Rolling Admissions: This is a practice used by some institutions to review and complete applications as they arrive, rather than according to a set deadline.
Transcript: This is the official document containing the record of a student’s academic performance and testing history. The school at which a student is or has been officially enrolled must issue the transcript, certified by the signature of an authorized school administrator. The school’s official seal or watermarked school stationery may also be used to authenticate the transcript.
Wait-list: An applicant is put on the wait-list when an admissions officer or committee decides to offer the applicant the opportunity to enroll in the institution only if there is space available in the incoming class after fully admitted students have responded to their offers to enroll. This category of admissions is reserved for students whose profiles are strong, but who are marginally qualified in comparison to the overall strength of others in the pool of applicants.
COLLEGE COST VOCABULARY
Award Letter: An award letter from a school states the type and amount of financial aid the school is willing to provide the student, if s/he accepts admission and registers as a full-time student.
Cost of Attending College: This is the total cost of going to college, including tuition, room and board, books, transportation, fees, and personal expenses.
Demonstrated Need: This is the difference between the cost of attending a college and your expected family contribution.
FAFSA: This is the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, a federal form required from all students who wish to apply for need-based financial aid, including grants, loans and work-study awards
Financial Aid Office: The office that decides how much money a student will receive in grants and loans.
Room & Board: The cost of a room in a dormitory and a dining hall meal plan at a college or university.
PAYING FOR COLLEGE (Financial Aid)
Athletic Scholarships: These scholarships are based upon athletic ability and your prospective college’s departmental needs. Division I, II, and III college athletic scholarships are very difficult to receive because of fierce competition.
Corporate Scholarships: These scholarships are awarded to help employees and their families, Show community support and to encourage future job seekers toward a career in the company’s area of business. Corporate scholarships are much less competitive than other types of scholarships because of geography, employment and the relatively low number of applicants. Start with your family's employers, check out the newspaper and see which companies in your area are awarding scholarships, and then contact these businesses to find out how to apply.
Federal Pell Grant: This grant is a form of financial aid provided by the Federal government to students whose FAFSA indicates a high level of financial need.
Federal Perkins Loans: These loans are similar to Stafford loans in that no interest accrues while enrolled in college. The interest rate is lower, and the repayment grace period is longer than that of a Stafford subsidized loan. The need-based standards are more stringent for the Perkins loan and funds are awarded based on the FAFSA Student Aid Report.
Grants: Grants, like loans and most scholarships, are based on financial need. A grant may be provided by federal or state governments, an institution, a foundation, or some other nonprofit funding source and does not have to be repaid.
Institutional Grant: This is a need-based grant provided by an institution and offered to students whose families cannot pay the full cost of college. Institutional grants do not have to be repaid.
Institutional Loan: Any student loan administered by the college or university using the institution’s funds as the source of funding. Perkins Loans may also be considered institutional loans.
Loans: A loan is a type of financial aid that is available to students and to the parents of students. An education loan must be repaid. In many cases, however, payments do not begin until the student finishes school.
Merit-Based Grant: A form of gift aid (does not require repayment) based upon your grade point average, academic excellence and extracurricular involvement with some attention to your financial need.
Need-Based Grant: This grant is offered, as a part of the financial aid package, when a student and his or her family are unable to pay the full cost of attending an institution. The grant does not need to be repaid.
Out-of-State (Non-Resident) Student: Student whose permanent residence is in a different state than that of the college or university which he or she attends or hopes to attend. Out-of-state students generally pay higher tuition than do instate students.
PLUS Loan: The Federal Parent Loan for Undergraduate Students (PLUS) allows parents, regardless of income, to borrow up to the total cost of education minus the amount of any other financial aid awarded by the institution or the government.
Scholarships: A scholarship is a sum of money given to a student for the purposes of paying at least part of the cost of college. Scholarships can be awarded to students based on students' academic achievements or on many other factors. Scholarships do not need to be repaid.
Stafford Loan: This is a federal student loan for college students used to supplement personal and family resources, scholarships, grants, and work-study. A Stafford Loan may be subsidized or unsubsidized, depending on whether it is need-based.
Subsidized Loans: These loans are need-based loans with interest paid by the government and payments deferred as long as the student is enrolled in a post-secondary program of studies.
William Ford Direct Loan Program: The William Ford Direct Loan Program is administered by the U.S. Department of Education to provide loans that help students pay for their post- secondary education.
Work Study Programs: Most colleges offer work-study programs. They allow students to work part time during the school year as part of their financial aid package. The jobs are usually on campus and the money earned is used to pay for tuition or other college charges.
Hear from GRMS Grads:
Ivette Villarreal '11,
UT Austin, Speech Therapy
UT Health San Antonio
Documents & Resources:
GETTING GOOD GRADES
PROGRAMS FOR HIGH-ACHIEVING
COLLEGE APPLICATION FEE WAIVERS:
FINANCIAL AID COMPARISON TOOLS: