College Admissions Glossary

By SAGE Scholars
May 4, 2021
A college admission test with 4 main sections (English, Math, Reading, and Science) as well as an optional essay section.
Admission Rate
The percentage of applicants who are admitted to a college.
Advanced Placement (AP)
A College Board program that offers college-level classes and tests to high-school students. Students with high scores on AP tests might receive college credit or advanced standing.
College Application Essay
An essay that students write and submit as part of their application. Most schools provide a prompt that you respond to.
College Board
An organization that creates and administers standardized tests used in school admission and placement (SAT, SAT Subject Tests, PSAT/NMQST, AP,and CLEP tests).
College Credit
Aknowledgement of completion of a college level course. The number of credits depends on the time required to complete the course. Colleges require a set number of credits for a student to graduate.
Common Application
An admission form that applicants an use to apply to over 700 member colleges in the United States, as well as in Canada, China, and many European countries.
Cooperative Education (Co-op)
When colleges combine classroom-based education with practical experience.
CSS/Financial Aid Profile
Financial-aid application form used by private colleges and scholarship programs to award non-federal funds. Used as a supplement to the FAFSA, it’s much more detailed.
Demonstrated Interest
When student shows a college (through visits, contact with personnel, etc.) that they are considering the school.
Deferred Admission
When a student who’s applied for early admission is deferred to the regular pool of applicants and will be considered for admission with regular-decision applicants.
Dual Enrollment
When students are enrolled in 2 separate but academically-related institutions (such as high-school students taking college courses)
Early Action
When a student applies before the regular admissions date and generally receives a decision by January 1st. The student isn’t obligated to attend if accepted. Students are not limited to the number of schools that they may apply to this way (though there are schools with restrictive early action).
Early Decision
When a student applies to their top-choice school before the regular admissions date and generally receive a decision by January 1st. If accepted, the student is obliged to attend only that college. Students may only apply via early decision to one school.
Early Decision II
Early decision, just with later deadlines.
Expected Family Contribution (EFC)
A measure of family finances utilizing a formula established by the U.S. Dept. of Education. Family income, assets, benefits and family size are considered. Colleges use the EFC in formulating financial aid awards to students.
Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)
The official form used to request federal, state, and school assistance in paying for college. The FAFSA is used to determine the student’s level of need and establish their expected family contribution (EFC).
Federal Work-Study
A type of financial aid that a school awards to a student who has demonstrated financial need according to the FAFSA. The student works for, and is paid by, the school (up to a dollar limit).
Financial Aid
Any scholarships, loans, or employment offered to help a student meet college expenses.
Gap Year
A one-year break between high school and college, or school and work.
Grade Point Average (GPA)
The average value of the final grades earned in courses during high school.
A form of aid that does not have to be repaid.
An opportunity for a student to share their goals and experiences as part of the admission process
Legacy Admission
A preference in admission practiced by some institutions for an applicant related to any alumni of the school.
Need-Blind Admission
When a college doesn’t consider a student’s ability to pay as a factor in admission.
Open Admission
An admission policy of accepting any high-school graduate, regardless of grades or standardized test scores.
Pell Grant
A federally-funded grant awarded solely because of financial need.
Priority Deadline
The date by which an application must be received to be given the strongest consideration.
A test administered by the College Board and cosponsored by the National Merit Scholarship Corporation. High-school juniors are screened for the National Merit Scholarship Program. The top 1% of students generally qualify as semi-finalists.
Letter of Recommendation
A statement from people who have taught, mentored, or have known a student for a substantial amount of time attesting to the student’s personal qualities. These could include academics, personal traits, and contributions to the student’s high school and community.
A college administrator responsible for student records and class enrollment.
Regular Decision
Students apply by January / February and receive a decision by early April. There is not a restriction to the number of schools to which the student may apply, and acceptance is not binding.
Rolling Admission
When applications are reviewed as they arrive. Applicants are generally notified within 6 to 8 weeks. Places in the incoming class may be filled on a first-come, first-served basis.
A college admission test administered by The College Board that assesses a student’s aptitude in reading and mathematics. It is used by many colleges for admissions purposes.
SAT Subject Test
A test administered by The College Board on specific subjects (such as Math, English or American History) that assesses the student’s knowledge of the subject.
Score Choice
An option for students who have taken any SAT more than once that allows them to submit only their best test score to colleges.
Stafford Loan
A federal student loan that’s either subsidized (the government pays the interest while the student is in school at least part-time) or unsubsidized (paying the interest is optional while the student is in school and all unpaid interest becomes part of the loan after the student leaves school)
Test Optional
When colleges are willing to make an admission decision without using SAT, ACT, or other test scores.
A standardized test to measure the English language ability of non-native speakers seeking to enroll in English-speaking colleges.
The official record of coursework at a school. May also include honors and activities. It is required for college admission.
A group of potential students held in reserve after a college makes its admissions decisions. If openings occur, students on the waitlist may be offered admission.

SAGE Scholars

At SAGE Scholars, we deeply believe in the value and quality of private higher education. Our mission is to provide access to affordable college opportunities while bringing together families, colleges & universities, and benefit providers to create college funding solutions. Since 1995, SAGE Scholars has bridged the gap between students who want a quality private college education and colleges that will work closely with member families to ensure affordability — all at no cost to the student, family, or college. As the nation’s oldest, largest, and most trusted private college preparation and funding organization, we’re providing families with the guidance and resources they need for every step of the college process.
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