College Glossary: A

All College Glossary Pages:

Accreditation – all credible institutions of higher learning are accredited — regulated, monitored, and reviewed — by one or more independent organizations called accreditors to make sure that educational standards are being met. There are regional, national, and subject-specific accrediting organizations. For most undergraduates, accreditation seems like an unimportant issue, but it can become important later — especially if a student decides to apply for graduate programs.

ACT (American College Test) – One of two widely accepted college entrance exams (the other is the SAT), the ACT assesses high school students’ general educational development and their ability to complete college-level work in English, math, reading, and science. An optional writing test measures skill in planning and writing a short essay. Test questions are based on what is taught in the high school curriculum.

Admissions Counselor – An admissions staff member whose goal is to recruit the best high school students in his or her territory, and who can become your advocate in the admission process. An admissions counselor is part salesperson (who gets you interested in the college) and part jury (in helping decide whether or not you are accepted).

Advanced/Honors Classes – Students in many high schools have some choices when it comes to choosing classes that are more challenging and taught at a higher level than standard high school classes. Advantages for enrolling in these courses include better preparation for college courses, offering distinction on your college application, and the potential to receive some college credit. The three main types of advanced courses — not available at all high schools — include Advanced Placement (AP) Courses, Honors Courses, and International Baccalaureate (IB) Courses.

Advanced Placement (AP) Course – The AP program is a curriculum in the United States and Canada, sponsored by the College Board, which offers standardized courses to high school students that are generally recognized to be equivalent to undergraduate courses in college. AP classes allow students to broaden their knowledge in various subjects, distinguish their transcripts with challenging coursework, and potentially earn college credit based on their demonstration of the course content (see Advanced Placement Test, below). There are 34 AP classes from which to choose, including English, mathematics, social studies, language, art, and music.

Advanced Placement (AP) Exam – Corresponding to AP courses, AP exams are subject-specific standardized test administered by the College Board annually in May. Exams are scored on a scale from 1 (no recommendation for college credit) to 5 (extremely well-qualified to receive college credit). Colleges and universities award college credit based on students’ exam scores.

Alternative Credit Options – Postsecondary institutions have alternative methods to measure prior learning experiences. These methods may be credit-by-examination or credit by documented life/work experience. Talk to the Admissions office about the various alternative credit options are available to assess where you may find most success. A fee is often associated.

Application Fee – Most colleges charge a non-refundable fee to apply; fees average about $25, but some can go as high as $60. Many colleges offer fee waivers for applicants from low-income families, and if a student has taken an SAT or ACT using a fee waiver, he/she is entitled to a certain number of college application fee waivers.

Apprenticeship – An apprenticeship program combines on-the-job training in a skilled craft or trade with classroom study. The student, also called an apprentice, is trained and prepared for advanced training or employment in a higher-than-entry-level position.

Articulated Credit – Articulated college credit is awarded to students who successfully complete a course/program while in high school and complete additional requirements at the postsecondary that meets the requirements of the Articulation Agreement for the program in which the student was enrolled.

Associate’s degree – an undergraduate academic degree awarded by community colleges, junior colleges, technical colleges, and bachelor’s degree-granting colleges and universities upon completion of a course of study usually lasting two years. Degrees include Associate of Arts (A.A.), Associate of Applied Arts (A.A.A), Associate of Sciences (A.S.) and Associate of Applied Sciences (A.A.S.).

ASVAB (Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery) – a nationally-normed, multi-aptitude test battery that has been provided to high schools and postsecondary schools since 1968. The ASVAB Career Program is a comprehensive career exploration and planning program that includes a multiple-aptitude test battery, an interest inventory, and various career planning tools designed to help students explore the world of work.