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College Admissions Glossary P-S

College Admissions Glossary P-S

If you're struggling to comprehend all the unfamiliar words you come across in the college application process, you're not alone. Our admissions glossary covers the major terms, so you know exactly what everything means.

PSAT/NMSQT: The Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test. The PSAT is taken in October of 10th grade as a practice version of the SAT. The PSAT is also used to prequalify students for the National Merit Scholarship program.

Part-Time: A part-time student enrolls in fewer credits than the college or university requires for full-time enrollment.

Pass-Fail: Pass-fail is a grading system in which a student can only pass or fail. No letter grades are given.

Plagiarism: Plagiarism is copying work without giving credit to the original author. To prevent plagiarism, add quotation marks and attribute the quote to the source.

Post-secondary Education: Post-secondary education, also referred to as a higher education, is education that goes beyond high school. Postsecondary education includes trade schools, junior colleges and four-year colleges and universities.

Preferential Packaging: Preferential packaging occurs when a college or university gives a more favorable financial aid package to students they are recruiting. A more favorable financial aid package can include a greater amount of financial aid.

Prerequisite: A prerequisite is a class that must be taken before a student can take a more advanced class. For example, English 101 is a prerequisite for English 201.

Priority Deadline: A priority deadline is the date by which students should apply for admission to a college or university. Colleges use priority deadlines to encourage students to apply for admission earlier.

Private College: Also known as independent, a private college is a college that is privately funded and not controlled by the government. There are two types of private colleges, non-profit and for-profit.

Probation: Probation occurs when a student fails to meet the academic requirements of a college.

Public College: A public college is mainly funded and controlled by the state government.

Quarters: Quarters are an academic term where the academic year is split into four parts, rather than two semesters or three trimesters.

Reach School: A reach school is a college that is less likely to admit the student, based on their academic background. Typically, the test scores will fall below the bottom 25th percentile of students enrolled at the college.

Regular Decision: Regular decision is the typical admissions process, of which students apply by the standard deadline.

Rejected: A student whose application for admission is rejected is not admitted by the college or university.

Resident Assistant (RA): A student leader in a dormitory to help younger students and enforce dorm rules, and the RA typically gets free rent and doesn't have to pay for their room.

Retention Rate: The percentage of full-time, first-time students who return to the college for their sophomore year.

Rising Senior: A rising senior is between the junior and senior years. 

Rolling Admission: Rolling admission is an application process where applications for admission are accepted throughout the year and evaluated as they are received, with admissions decisions rendered within a month or two of receipt of the application.

Room and Board: Room and board refers to student housing and meal plans.

SAT: The SAT, previously known as the Scholastic Aptitude Test and Scholastic Assessment Test, is a college admissions test that evaluates how well students are prepared for college-level academic work. The SAT is developed by the College Board and administered by the Educational Testing Service (ETS).

STEM: An acronym for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.

Safety School: A college where a student is likely to be admitted, based on their academic background. Typically, their test scores will fall above the top 75th percentile of students enrolled at the college.

Salutatorian: The salutatorian is the student who ranks second highest in his or her graduating class.

Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP): The academic requirements a student must meet to qualify for financial aid. Typically, SAP involves a minimum GPA and progress in passing classes in a timely manner.

Scholarship: A scholarship is a form of gift aid, money for college that does not need to be earned or repaid.

Secondary School: See high school.

Selective Admissions: Rigorous academic standards that must be met to gain admission to a college or university.

Selectivity: The percentage of applicants that a college or university admits.

Semester: An academic term where the year is split into two parts, rather than three trimesters or four quarters.

Seminar: A college-level course that includes in-class discussion, involving a professor and a group of students.

Sorority: A social organization with philanthropic causes comprised of female students.

Sticker Price: The cost to attend a college or university, which is not reduced by financial aid.

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