The A's and Z's of Higher Education

New to higher education? Read this helpful guide to learn some jargon of the higher education world!

  1. Academic adviser: a member of the college's faculty who assists and advises students on academic topics.

  2. Academic dishonesty: the use of unauthorized assistance with the intent of deceiving a professor or evaluator, including but not limited to plagiarism, fabrication, cheating, and sabotage.

  3. Accreditation: the official recognition that an institution of higher education has met the standards of an accrediting association.

  4. Adjunct faculty: a member of the faculty who is hired to teach but is not a tenure-track member of the faculty, often employed on a part-time basis.

  5. Assistant professor: a member of faculty who is untenured but on tenure track.

  6. Associate professor: a member of faculty who has received tenure at the intermediate level.

  7. Associate's degree: an undergraduate degree typically awarded by a community college within two years of full-time study.

  8. Asynchronous learning: a type of online course that does not require face-to-face interactions between instructors and students, allowing students to fulfill the course requirements on their own time.

  9. Audit: to take a course without receiving credit.

  10. Bachelor's degree: an undergraduate degree typically awarded upon successful completion of a program of study, usually taking four years.

  11. Carnegie units: one year of study in a high school subject.

  12. College: an institution of higher education that typically provides only an undergraduate education.

  13. Commuter: a student who travels from housing off campus that is not owned by or affiliated with their college.

  14. Credit: units used by a school to indicate that a student has passed specific courses that are required for graduation.

  15. Distance learning: a course or credit that occurs when students and instructors do not meet physically in a typical classroom fashion, often supported by technology such as teleconferencing or video calls.

  16. Independent study: academic work undertaken outside of the regular classroom structure under the supervision of an professor.

  17. Junior college: also known as community college, a public two-year college that awards associate's degrees.

  18. Learning center: a center that offers assistance to students for the development of academic and time management skills, usually through tutoring and/or workshops.

  19. Matriculation: to enroll officially in a program at a college or university.

  20. Merit-based aid: a type of financial aid given by an institution to students who demonstrate special academic ability.

  21. Midterm: an exam or assessment typically given halfway through an academic term.

  22. Need-based aid: a type of financial aid given by an institution to students who cannot pay the full cost of attending their college or university.

  23. Non-traditional student: a student who enters college more than a year after his or her high school graduation or a student who pursues their college education while working full time.

  24. Open admissions: a school's policy to accept all students who have a high school diploma, regardless of their GPA or test scores (a "nonselective" institution).

  25. Part-time student: a student who is still enrolled at a college or university but is not taking a full course load.

  26. Probation: a period of time during which students with low GPAs must improve their academic performance. Students who fail to improve their grades may be dismissed from the college or university.

  27. Registrar: an official at a college or university who registers students and maintains academic records.

  28. Remedial services: courses designed for students who do not possess the skills to complete a regular postsecondary curriculum.

  29. Syllabus: a document given to students who enroll in a course that includes the curriculum of the course, assignments and due dates, and instructor expectations.

  30. Teaching assistant (TA): a student who assists faculty with teaching an undergraduate course.

  31. Tenure: a status given to high-level faculty that recognizes their strong record of research and publishing that allows them to stay indefinitely in their position.

  32. University: an institution of higher education that provides both undergraduate and graduate degrees.

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