College Admission Terminology 101

College Admissions Help in Brentwood, TN, Franklin, TN, Nashville, TN

Fall season is upon us. Which means…so is the craziness that is called college applications. By now, seniors should have a solid short list of colleges that they intend to apply to this fall. But before you hit that “submit” button, be sure to understand the lingo of college admissions.

As a college admissions consultant serving Brentwood, TN, Franklin, TN and Nashville, TN, I understand the complexity and confusion that families face when trying to navigate the college admissions process. I’ve put together a list of terms that will help families as they work through this process.

Is your student in need of college essay writing help, ACT or SAT test prep, and help with their college applications? As an educational consultant serving Brentwood, TN, Franklin, TN, and Nashville, TN, I work 1:1 with students and families to identify best-fit learning environments and help them manage t

he entire college application and admissions process. There are also several local scholarships available. I find that, unfortunately, families don’t always know about the money available to them in our community. Scholarships for Williamson County students are available every year.

If you’re looking for college admissions help and test prep help in Brentwood, TN, Franklin, TN, and Nashville, TN, please contact my office today.

Academic adviser

Your adviser is usually a senior faculty member in your area of concentration who is assigned to advise you on course selections and requirements. Prior to declaring your major, you will be assigned a temporary faculty adviser.

Accelerated study

An accelerated study program allows you to graduate in less time than usual. By taking summer terms and extra courses during the academic year, you may finish your bachelor’s degree in three years instead of four. This often requires advanced planning.

Admission decisions

  • Admit: You’re in! You’ve been admitted to the college you selected.

  • Deny: This unfortunately means you weren’t accepted. You may want to see about an appeal process.

  • Waitlist: Pending decision. You have been placed on a waitlist in case an opening becomes available. Waitlists are ranked by priority and there are some years when more competitive schools never draw from theirs.

Advanced Placement (AP) courses

AP classes are high-level courses that are administered through the College Board. They provide curriculum equitable to college courses and are only open to eligible students. A college may award college credit or advanced placement to you, depending on your score. Criteria for credit awards vary — check your school’s policy on AP credits. Every school is different in what score they require.


An alternative to the SAT, this test is widely accepted by a broad range of institutions and is administered throughout the school year. The ACT assesses English, mathematics, reading, and science reasoning, and these scores can be used in lieu of SAT Subject Tests. ACT requirements vary by school. The composite score is out of 36.

Associate’s degree

The Associate of Arts (A.A.) and the Associate of Science (A.S.) degrees are usually equivalent to the first two years of a four-year college curriculum. The Associate in Applied Science (A.A.S.) is awarded upon completion of a technical or vocational program. Some colleges have 2+2 programs where an associates degree is also earned.

Bachelor’s or baccalaureate degree

After you satisfactorily complete a full-time program of study or its part-time equivalent at a college or university, you’ll be awarded with a Bachelor of Arts (B.A) or a Bachelor of Science (B.S.) degree. This is usually a 4-year program.

Branch campus

You may choose to attend a smaller campus that is a part of a large university’s continuum of academic services. These are also known as satellite campuses. Branch campuses may also be a good option if you want to remain close to home or wish to work and attend classes on a part-time basis.

Candidates Reply Date Agreement (CRDA)

If you’re admitted to a college, you don’t have to reply until May 1. This allows you time to hear from all the colleges to which you applied before making a commitment to any of them. This is especially important because financial aid packages vary from one school to another and the CRDA gives you time to compare packages before deciding. This is also known as the enrollment deposit deadline.

College-preparatory subjects

You can take courses in high school that are valued by colleges and universities as strong preparation for college. Classes are usually in the five major areas of English, history, world languages, mathematics, and science. The courses may be at grade level, but also occur as honors or AP classes and as such are often weighted when your GPA is calculated. These may be known as dual enrollment. College prep is often offered in honors level.

Common Application

This is a universal college application that colleges elect to be a "member" of, thereby allowing students to fill out one application. The colleges and universities that accept these standardized forms give them equal weight with their own forms.

Course load

The number of course credit hours you take in a semester is referred to as your course load. Twelve credit hours is usually the minimum to be considered a full-time student, but the average course load per semester is 12-16 credit hours.

Credit hours

Your amount of credit hours per week is equivalent to your credits for financial aid, and they are used to determine you status as a full- or part-time student. This can vary by college.

Deferred acceptance

This means that the admission committee has declined to decide about your acceptance until a later date. This is also known as a "hold".

Double major

Available at most schools, you can obtain a double major by completing requirements for both degrees simultaneously. This may extend graduation.

Early Action (EA)

With Early Action, you can apply to a school early in your senior year (usually between October 30 and January 15), and request an early application review and notification of admission. It usually takes three to four weeks to get a response. EA is non-binding.

Early Decision (ED)

Sometimes confused with Early Action, the Early Decision plan allows you to apply to an institution early in your senior year (usually between October 30 and January 15), and to request an early notification of admission. This is a binding decision, so the student must attend the ED college if they are admitted. Some colleges and universities offer both ED and EA options, so read the college admission requirements carefully to make sure you know what you’re applying for.

Greek life

Sororities and fraternities are known as the Greek system, and often greatly influence the campus social life of a college or university.

Honors program

Honors programs offer you an enriched, top-quality educational experience that usually includes small class size, custom-designed courses, mentoring, enriched individualized learning, hands-on research, and publishing opportunities. These programs are a great way to attend a large school that offers enhanced social and recreational opportunities, all while receiving a high-end education at a reduced cost. Some colleges require a separate application to be considered.

Independent study

With this option, you may be able to complete some of your credit requirements by studying on your own. You and your faculty adviser decide on the topic in advance (as well as how to approach it), and then meet periodically to discuss your progress. At the end of the term, you hand in a final report for a grade. Independent studies are an excellent way to explore topics of interest.


Faculty members from several disciplines contribute to the development of a course of study and may co-teach the courses.


An experience-based opportunity that is related to your major, many students schedule their internships during breaks in the academic calendar. Internships are usually required but you’ll receive credit towards your degree for your supervised work experience.


This is the primary focus and concentration of your studies. Your college or university specifies the number of credits you will need to take to complete your major, as well as the sequence and level of the courses necessary to earn your degree.


This is an area of concentration in your studies that requires fewer credits for completion than a major. Your minor can be related to your major — or not. For example, you may major in English but pursue a minor in theater.


If you’re taking classes even though you haven’t been admitted (or have been academically dismissed), then you are considered a non-matriculated student. As such, you won’t be eligible for financial aid or participation in the athletic program at your school.

Open admission

When a school does not review your academic qualifications as part of its college admissions process, then it has an open admission policy. Many public junior or community colleges will admit you under this guideline if you have a high school diploma or its equivalent.

PSAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test

Similar in format to the SAT, this test is usually taken in October of your junior year, but is shorter and takes less time. It is a qualifying instrument for the National Merit Scholarship Awards Program and can be helpful for early college guidance.

Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC)

Each branch of the military sponsors a ROTC program. In exchange for a certain number of years on active duty, you can have a portion of your college education paid for by the armed forces.

Residency requirement

Retention rate

This is the number and/or percentage of students returning for the sophomore year.

Rolling admission

Under a rolling admission policy, there is no deadline for filing a college application. This concept is used most often by state universities. After you apply, you’ll receive a response within three to four weeks. If you’re accepted, you aren’t required to confirm your enrollment until May 1 (in most cases). If you’re an out-of-state resident applying to a state university, you should apply as early as possible.


A popular college admission exam, the SAT assesses critical reading, math, and writing. It’s offered throughout the academic year at approved test centers. Check with the schools you’re interested in to see if SAT scores are part of their college admissions requirements.

SAT Subject Tests

SAT Subject Tests are given on the same test dates and in the same centers as the regular SAT. In recent years, there has been more emphasis been placed on these tests for admission purposes as well as for placement and exemption decisions.

Transfer student

If you move from one college or university to another, then you are known as a transfer student. Credits applied toward the transfer are evaluated by the receiving school to determine how many of your credits it will accept. Each school sets different policies for transfers, so if you’re considering transferring, you should seek college admissions assistance.

Working with a private college counselor and educational consultant in the Brentwood, Franklin, and Nashville, TN area ensures your applications will be strategically presented. Test prep is an important part of college application planning. If you’re looking for ACT test prep, SAT test prep, and PSAT test prep in the Brentwood, TN, Franklin, TN, and Nashville, TN area, please contact my office.

Are you looking for college admissions help in Brentwood, TN, Franklin, TN, and Nashville, TN?

Other services that I offer include:

Essay writing help

Resume building and enrichment strategy for improvement

Interview skills and interpersonal development

College list development

Scholarship advising

Teacher recommendation advising

Testing strategy

ACT and SAT Test prep Franklin, Test prep Brentwood, Test prep Nashville

Supervision of all college applications

Customized college admissions road map

Good luck!

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