Your Cheat Sheet to College Lingo

Don’t understand any of the college lingo your student is using? This list of terms will have you up to speed in no time.

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Academic Notice: students with fewer than 30 credit hours, with a retention GPA of 1.7 to 1.99

Academic Probation: students with more than 29 credit hours, with a retention GPA lower than 2.00

Academic Suspension: students on academic probation who do not achieve a term GPA of 2.00; must sit out one semester

Academic year: August through July

Add/Drop period: period of time at the beginning of each semester when students can add or drop courses without financial or academic repercussions

Adjunct instructor: part-time instructor

Advisor: university official who assists students in choosing appropriate coursework

Associate degree: typically requires 60-65 hours of courses to complete

Audit: taking a course for no credit


Bachelor degree: typically requires 120-130 hours of courses to complete

Blue book: literally a blue book containing writing paper; used for essay tests

Bulletin: university online publication, produced each academic year, that details policies, degree requirements, and course descriptions


Closed class: the limit on the number of students allowed in a specific course has been reached

College: contains and administers several academic departments; for example, the College of Business and Technology, the College of Liberal Arts, and the College of Mathematics, Science, and Health Science

Complete withdrawal: withdrawing from every course in a particular semester Comprehensive test: tests topics covered throughout the entire course

Course number: identifies the course with an abbreviation of the department and a number (ex. BIOL 1114)

Credit hour: typically referred to as an “hour”; the equivalent of one hour of class per week in a regular 16-week course

Cumulative GPA: includes grades from every undergraduate course ever taken


Dean: each college has one who is in charge

Deficiency: area of academics in which students are not proficient to the college level and must enroll in zero-level courses

Degree check: prior to graduation, this is completed to make sure students have completed all requirements

Department: contained within a college, offers academic programs; for example Business Department, Visual Arts Department, and Biology Department

Department Head: every department has one who is in charge


FAFSA: Free Application for Federal Student Aid; required for students wishing to obtain financial aid

Fall semester: August through December Federal loans: loans awarded by the government; must be paid back

Federal loans: loans awarded by the government; must be paid back

Fees: required financial charges placed on student accounts upon enrollment in courses

Finals: last week of each semester, in which every course has a final test

Full-time student: enrolled in a minimum of 12 hours per Fall or Spring, or 6 hours in Summer


General education: courses every student is required to take, regardless of major; English, math, science, history, etc.

GPA: short for Grade Point Average; measure of student’s academic achievement; calculated by dividing total number of grade points received by total number of hours attempted

Grants: financial aid awarded by the government; do not have to be paid back


Hillcat card: student ID card which can serve as a debit card in specific areas on campus

Hillcat Hub: online student portal used for enrollment and other services

Honor roll: for fall or spring semester, students who complete at least 12 hour and earn at least a 3.5 GPA with no grade lower than a “B” will be placed on the President’s or Dean’s honor roll, depending on specific GPAs


Intersession course: compacted course that meets the two weeks after a semester, but is the equivalent of taking it for one full semester


M,T,W,R,F: Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday

Major: primary course of study a student wishes to pursue

Minor: secondary course of study a student wishes to pursue


Part-time student: student who is enrolled in fewer than 12 credit hours in a fall or spring semester, or fewer than 6 hours in summer

Plagiarism: using another’s work, whether directly quoted or summarized, without giving credit to the author; results in serious consequences

Pre-requisite: sometimes referred to as a “pre-req”; course that must be taken prior to enrolling in another course (ex. College algebra is a pre-requisite for calculus)


Registrar: university official who maintains academic records for all students

Resident advisors (RAs): students who work for the Residential Life department and are responsible for a specific group of student apartments

Retention/Graduation GPA: used to determine students’ eligibility to remain enrolled or graduate; activity courses and forgiven course work (course that has been repeated) are not calculated in this


Scantron: used for multiple choice testing; has bubbles to be filled in with pencil

Schedule: list of courses student is enrolled in, along with times, days, instructors, and locations

Scholarships: financial assistance awarded based on academics or other criteria; do not have to be paid back

School: contains and administers several academic departments; for example, the School of Business and Technology, the School of Liberal Arts, and the School of Mathematics, Science, and Health Science

Section number: identifies specific class (time, day, instructor) within a course (ex. General Biology may have section numbers of 001, 002, 003, etc)

Semester: portion of the academic year; fall and spring are 16 weeks, summer is 8 weeks

Spring semester: January through May

Summer semester: June through July

Syllabus: outline of what is expected in each class; given to student by instructor on first day of class


Term GPA: GPA for each individual semester

Transcript: official academic record of every course student has taken, along with grades and GPA

Tuition: charges for classes applied to student account upon enrollment


Undergraduate: student who has not yet earned a Bachelor’s degree


Withdraw: after the add/drop period; student receives a “W” on transcript; “W”s have no effect on a GPA

Work-study: eligibility determined by FAFSA results; student is employed on campus


ZAP number: primary identification number of a class; every single class available in a semester has its own ZAP

Zero-level course: remedial course that a student with a deficiency is required to pass with a “C” or better before moving on to college level course; does not count toward hours earned; is not included in GPA calculation