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Glossary of Terms

Application Fee
The fee a college charges you to apply to their institution. The amount varies from one college to the next.

Associates Degree
It may take 2-5 years to achieve an Associate’s degree. In order to complete an associate degree, you will need to complete 60 or more credits.

Bachelor’s Degree
Often called a four-year degree program, a bachelor’s degree is granted for completion of a course of study usually requiring 120-128 semester credits. You cannot get a bachelor’s degree at a two-year community college: however, you may be able to put your credits from the associate degree towards a bachelor’s degree.

A unique identification number assigned to high schools and colleges by the College Board. Joliet Central’s Code is 142385

Common Application (Common App)
A standard application form accepted by all colleges that are members of the Common Application association. You can fill out this application once and submit it to anyone — or several — of the nearly 900 colleges that accept it.

Community College
A two-year post-secondary institution that offers associates degrees. Students who earn their associate degree at a community college can transfer to a four-year college or university to earn their bachelor’s degree. For example: Joliet Junior College

Early Action (EA)
An application process to apply and receive a decision earlier than the Regular Decision

notification date. EA is “non-binding” and you have no obligation to enroll and will have until May 1 to consider the offer and confirm your enrollment.

Early Decision (ED)
A “binding” application process by which you commit to enrolling in a certain college if you’re admitted. You can apply to other colleges, but only apply ED to one college. If admitted, you must withdraw your other applications.

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid is used to determine your eligibility for federal, state, and college-sponsored financial aid. This includes grants, educational loans, and work-study programs. Be sure to visit the FAFSA website for more information.  

Fee Waivers
A request to the college to remove the application fee. Using either the Common App fee waiver, which your counselor must confirm, or a college-specific fee waiver, you will not be required to pay the fee to submit your application.

(Federal Education Right To Privacy Act) Enacted by the federal government, FERPA protects students' privacy and confidentiality by placing certain restrictions on the disclosure of educational records and information.

Financial Aid
Funding in the form of grants and loans to help you pay for education-related expenses including tuition, room and board, textbooks, and supplies for college.

Full-time student
Generally, refers to those students taking at least twelve credits per semester

General Education Classes
Classes that give students basic knowledge of a variety of topics. Students often must take general education classes in order to graduate. This set of classes includes different courses and is called by different names at various colleges and universities.              

A form of financial aid from a non-profit organization (such as the government) that you do not have to repay

A form of financial aid that you must repay

Called a concentration at some colleges, a major is the primary subject you choose to study in college. A majority (but not all) of your college courses will be related to your major.

Match Schools
A school where you feel reasonably certain you’d be admitted because your GPA and test scores are like the average admitted student.           

Need Blind Admission
A policy of making admission decisions without considering the financial circumstances of applicants. Colleges that use this policy may not offer enough financial aid to meet a student’s full need

Open Admission 
A policy of accepting any high school graduate, no matter what his or her grades are, until all spaces in the incoming class are filled. Almost all two-year community colleges have an open-admission policy. However, a college with a general open-admission policy may have admission requirements for certain programs.

Part-time student
Generally, refers to those students who are not taking a full course load, but who are taking at least six credits per semester

A class that must be taken before you can take a different class.  (For example, Astronomy 100 may be a prerequisite for Astronomy 200)

Priority Date or Deadline
The date by which you must submit your application materials. All deadlines are in your local time zone.

Private College or University
A self-supporting institution of higher education operated with private funds. For example: Lewis University, University of St. Francis

Public College or University
An institution of higher education operated with state funds. For example: Northern Illinois University, Illinois State University          

Reach Schools
A school where your academic profile puts you at the lower end of the admitted student spectrum- or perhaps even below. It is less likely that you’ll be admitted.     

Regular Decision (RD)
An application process in which you apply by a specific date and then receive an admission decision within a stated period of time.

Rolling Admission
A decision plan that lets students submit an application at any time throughout the year.  Colleges will review applications as they receive them and make admission decisions throughout the year.

Safety Schools
A school where you’re almost positive you would be admitted based on your academic profile. Your GPA and test scores will be notably higher than the average admitted students.                           

The College Board’s standardized college admission test. It features three main sections: math, reading and writing, which includes an option written essay. 

A form of financial aid that you do not have to repay

Test Blind
Students are not required to submit any standardized test scores. There are several variations of this admission policy: Some colleges may exempt applicants who have scored above a certain grade point average.      

Test Optional
Students decide whether they want to submit test scores with their application. Most test-optional schools will consider SAT and ACT scores if they are submitted but focus on other factors they believe are stronger predictors of a student’s potential to succeed in college. These schools look at a student’s essays, recommendation, grades and coursework just as (or more) closely than your test scores.

Documentation to prove which courses you’ve taken and the grades you received for those courses. Your counselor will be required to provide an official transcript on your behalf.                                                 

Transfer Student
A student who enrolls in a college after having attended another college.

The cost of attending an institution of higher education, which does not include room, board or additional student fees                      

A college student who is working toward an associate or bachelor’s degree          

Waiting List
The list of applicants who may be admitted to a college if space becomes available. Colleges wait to hear if all the students they accepted decide to attend. If students don’t enroll and there are empty spots, a college may fill them with students who are on the waiting list.            

Work Study
Work-study is a way for college students to earn money to pay for school through part-time on (and sometimes off) campus jobs. Work-study gives students an opportunity to gain valuable work experience while pursuing a college degree. However, not every school participates in the Federal Work-Study Program.