College Glossary: C

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Campus Visit – travelling to a college campus to find out more information about it. Activities usually include a campus tour, meeting with admissions representatives, and speaking with current students. Students also may schedule private interviews with admissions or financial aid representatives, attend classes, and stay overnight with a current student to experience campus life.

Class Rank – a mathematical formula based on your coursework and grades that compares where you stand academically compared to all your classmates.

College Catalog – a book published annually (typically in print and online versions) that describes a college’s background and history, requirements for admission, tuition and fees, financial aid, degrees and services offered, course descriptions of all current courses, student services provided, student organizations, academic calendar, general regulations, policies and procedures, and key personnel (faculty, officers, and board of trustees).

College Choice Criteria – set of values that college-bound students determine is important for evaluating, ranking, and reducing list of potential colleges to a reasonable number. There are any number of criteria you could use, including: degrees offered, majors/minors, location/distance from home, housing options, size or diversity of the student population, public vs. private, costs (tuition, room and board, etc.), financial aid packages, placement success/internship and co-op programs, accreditation, religious affiliation, and ranking.

College Costs – typically broken into two major categories: tuition and room and board. Tuition is the amount of money charged by a school for classroom and other instruction. Room and board refers to fees related to housing (residence hall/dormitory) and food (meal plans).

College Entrance Exams – see both the ACT and SAT.

College Essay – a critical writing assignment that is part of the requirements for many college admissions applications. Students often have a choice of essay topics, and your goal in writing the essay should be to open a window into your personality that shows (rather than tells) the reader who you are and why you would make an ideal candidate for admission. Take great care in preparing and proofreading your essay; perfection is the standard!

College Interview – an opportunity to meet individually with an admissions representative in order to increase your chance of admission into a particular school.

College Major – a specific area of concentration for college coursework. Majors can focus on a subject (e.g. marketing, art history), theme (e.g. gender issues, ethics), or professional field (e.g. pre-med, pre-law). Majors often relate directly to career choice. Students who are unsure of their career path can have an “undecided” major for a period of time until they make a final decision.

College Minor – similar to college majors, but with a smaller concentration and fewer classes. While most colleges require students to have a major, choosing a minor is often optional. It can enhance and extend the scope of your major — and not only increase your knowledge but also your marketability to employers and graduate programs.

College Rankings – rating of colleges by various organizations, media, and book publishers. Many college-bound students use one or more rankings as ONE of several criteria used to either develop an initial list of colleges or evaluate among the colleges that accepted you for admission. Some of the more popular rankings include U.S. News & World Report, Princeton Review, Consumers Digest, and Kiplinger’s.

Common Application – a time-saving device for students applying to any of the more than 300 colleges that participate in the program run by the non-profit Common Application organization. Students can apply online or use the print version, which allows you to spend less time on the busywork of completing multiple admission application forms, and more time on other elements of college-planning. You may have to submit supplemental materials for certain schools in addition to the common application.

Community Colleges – offer two-year associate degrees that prepare you to transfer to a four-year college to earn a bachelor’s degree. They also offer other associate degrees and certificates that focus on preparing you for a certain career. Community colleges are often an affordable option with relatively low tuition.

Cooperative Education Program (Co-op) – a program of postsecondary study that combines classroom learning with paid, hands-on work experience. Often, students alternate between attending classes and working at a real job in their field of study. They are set up as sequential, ongoing experiences; much like in college coursework, the level of learning increases as you progress.

Cost-of-Attendance (COA) – a student’s total cost of attending college, including books, fees, room and board, supplies, transportation, tuition, and other miscellaneous personal expenses. The COA also depends on marital and residency status.
Credit Hour – A unit of academic credit that often represents one hour of class time per week for a period of study (semester, quarter, etc.)

CSS/Financial Aid PROFILE – the financial aid application service of the College Board. More than 600 colleges, universities, graduate and professional schools, and scholarship programs use the information collected on the PROFILE to determine eligibility for nonfederal student aid funds. There is a fee for this form, but some waivers are given based on the financial information you enter. Make sure you complete the FAFSA as well, since it is the tool used for determining federal financial aid.