As back to school bells ring throughout the country, most students are just worried about this year’s tests and the truck loads of homework their teachers will inevitably assign. But high school juniors and seniors also lose sleep over navigating college admissions. This worry intensifies for international students seeking admissions at US colleges and first-generation, American college students who may lack familiarity with what most college admissions counselors consider common, everyday higher education terms.
Here are a few terms that may be confusing for the unacquainted:
Bachelors Degree – A degree awarded to students after completion of usually a four-year degree program. It is the first, full degree received after high school. Degrees may vary by name such as Bachelors of Arts, Bachelors of Science, Bachelors of Education, Bachelors of Business, etc. However, the major is more important than the title of the degree since at different universities, different degree titles may be awarded for the same concentration.
College/University – There is no difference between colleges and universities. They both can be equally selective. For example, consider Dartmouth College and Harvard University, both Ivy Leagues. They both can be large such as Boston College and Boston University. They both can be small such as Bennington College and Clark University. It is more important to look at each institution individually rather than worry about the name.
Common Application – This is an online application that is used for applying to participating undergraduate institutions. Students can fill out one application and send it to numerous colleges/universities at once.
Double Major – The receipt of one bachelors degree in two concentrations. For instance, a student may receive a B.A. in History and Economics. Double majoring makes a student more attractive to graduate/professional programs and to future employers.
Dual Major – A program where students can take on two different majors at two different colleges. This often results in two bachelors degrees. For instance, students at the College of Holy Cross may enter a program where they receive a B.S. in Mathematics from Holy Cross and a B.E. in a specific engineering field from Columbia University.
Early Action – A college admissions program where students can submit their application to the university early and receive decisions early. Students are usually not obligated to attend this university and may simultaneously apply to other institutions. Students may classify as an early action applicant at only one institution.
Early Decision – A college admissions program where students can submit their application to the university early and receive decisions early. Students are obligated to attend this university and may not simultaneously apply to other institutions.
Major – The field in which students get their undergraduate degree. For instance, if a student receives a B.A. in Economics, his major is economics.
Open Admission – A college admissions policy where nearly hundred percent of applicants are accepted
Regular Admissions – Students submit their application by January 15th, (check individual institutions for deadlines), receive their answer by April 1st, and accept offers by May 1st.
Selective Colleges – Colleges that accept less than 50% of applicants. Highly selective colleges accept less than 30%. Applicants applying to highly selective institutions should also apply at less selective institutions. Higher selectivity does not necessarily mean a better education.
Undergraduate degree – A Bachelors degree
While these terms should get the first-generation college student off to a good start, stay tuned for more vocabulary words regarding financial aid.