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College Terms Defined: A-H

Too Embarrassed to Ask? Learn What All Those Acronyms and Terms Mean

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College Glossaries:

By term: A - H | I - R | S - Z

By subject: Academic Terms | Financial Aid Terms | Greek Alphabet | Residence Life Terms

College Terms: A - H

  • Academic Probation: If your grades fall below a certain level, your campus may place you on academic probation. This traditionally means that you need to raise your GPA or face the possibility of being removed from your school for academic reasons.

  • Adjunct Professor: A professor who is usually part-time or not on campus with a long-term contract (and, consequently, not eligible for tenure).

  • Alumna: Female graduate or former student.

  • Alumnae: Female graduates or former students.

  • Alumni: Male graduates or both male and female graduates.

  • Alumnus: Male graduate or former student.

  • Area Coordinator (AC): This person usually oversees an area of your residence hall, or an area of your campus. They have more responsibility, and may sometimes supervise, Resident Advisers (RAs).

  • Area Director (AD): This is usually just another title for an Area Coordinator (AC).

  • Board of Directors/Board of Trustees: Most colleges have a board that oversees all parts of the campus. Traditionally, the board hires (and possibly fires) a president; manages the college or university’s finances; and is responsible for all major policy decisions. Many college and university boards comprise alumni, faculty, staff, community leaders, and (sometimes) students.

  • Board of Regents: Similar to how a Board of Trustees oversees a single college or university, a Board of Regents traditionally oversees a state system of public colleges or universities.

  • College: In contrast to a university, a college traditionally only offers undergraduate degrees and programs. (There are, of course, some exceptions to this definition.)

  • Commencement: Usually another name for graduation.

  • Convocation: On some campuses, each year starts with a convocation ceremony where the new class is officially welcomed and the academic year formally begins.

  • Dean: A Dean is someone traditionally in charge of a major area of a college. For example, there may be a Dean of Students, a Dean of the Faculty, and a Dean of Arts & Sciences.

  • Discipline: On a college campus, a discipline is often synonymous with a major. It usually refers to a field of study. (Of course, if you are charged with violating campus or community rules, you may be required to have a disciplinary hearing…and that definition is more traditional!)

  • Discourse: A conversation, exchange of words, or dialogue, usually incorporating a wide range of views and opinions.

  • Faculty: The faculty, or a faculty member, is generally anyone who teaches at the college.

  • FAFSA: The Free Application for Federal Student Aid. This form is required for any student who wants to be considered for federal aid of any kind. Make sure you get your form in by the deadline!

  • Fees: Fees can be charged for anything from seeing a doctor in the campus health center to returning your library books late. Additionally, you may see something listed as "student fees," which cover some student services that the school provides and/or may be the basis for the student government budget.

  • Financial Aid: Anything related to the way you are paying for school. Loans, scholarships, grants, work awards, and any other resource you use are all considered part of your financial aid.

  • Graduate Assistant/Graduate Adviser (GA): A GA is often the same thing as a Graduate Student Instructor (GSI).

  • Graduate Instructor (GI): A GI is often the same thing as a Graduate Student Instructor (GSI).

  • Graduate Student Instructor (GSI): A GSI is often a graduate student who helps out in your classes. They made grade papers, lead seminar discussions, and sometimes teach classes.

  • Grants: Similar to scholarships in that you don't need to pay them back. Some grants may be connected to your course of study or allow you to do research while still having your financial needs taken care of. (For example, you may earn a grant to cover your room and board while you do summer research with a professor.)

  • Hall Coordinator (HC): A hall coordinator is typically in charge of your entire hall and oversees Resident Advisers (RAs).

  • Hall Council (HC): A Hall Council is a small governing body that serves as a student voice and helps make decisions and plan programs for your hall community; frequently the same thing as a Residence Council.

  • Hall Director (HD): Hall Directors are often the same things as Hall Coordinators (HCs).

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