Glossary of Terms

  • Accreditation:  An institution that receives accreditation is recognized as maintaining standards that qualify the graduates for admission to higher or more specialized institutions having met specific prescribed standards.  Be sure the college you are applying for has the accreditation for your career goals. 

    ACT:  The American College Testing Program, a standardized college entrance test offered on a number of dates, and consisting of four parts; English, Math, Reading and Science Reasoning as well as an optional Writing section.  Be sure to check each college's specific requirement.  (Most colleges accept either the ACT or the SAT Reasoning Test).

    Advanced Placement (AP):  The Advanced Placement Program gives students the opportunity to pursue college level studies while still in secondary school and to receive Advanced Placement and/or credit upon entering college.  A one year course that ends with a nationally standardized examination that leads to advanced standing and/or credit in college.

    Admissions Criteria:  The information a college uses when considering whether to admit a student.  Criteria may include:  GPA, strength of subjects, test scores, recommendations, personal essay, interviews, activities/awards, class rank.

    Alumni Interviews:  Alumni interviews are admissions interviews conducted by graduates of colleges to which you have applied.  These may be done locally when a student is unable to travel to a distant college for an interview.

    Associate Degree:  Associate degrees are granted by most two-year colleges and some four-year colleges at the end of two years of study.  A student may earn the Associate of Arts or Associate of Science degree, depending on the course of study.

    Bachelors Degree:  A degree granted by four-year institutions after completing four years (or in some cases, five years) of study.  A student may earn a Bachelor of Science or Arts degree depending on the course of study.

    Binding Acceptance: When a student is accepted as an Early Decision candidate, he/ she is legally bound to attend that college unless it can be proven that an offer of financial aid is unacceptable. 

    Bursar:  The person at a college or university who is responsible for all money that is received and paid out by the institution.  All bills are paid to the Bursar and all financial aid checks are distributed by the bursar.

    Candidates’ Reply Date Agreement (CRDA):  Originated by the College Board, this agreement establishes a common date, May 1, that is the earliest a subscribing college may require an accepted applicant to say whether he or she plans to attend.  This allows students to make informed decisions when all alternatives are known.

    Carnegie Units:  One Carnegie unit is given for successful completion of one year’s study of one college preparatory or academic subject in high school.  Some colleges refer to these as academic units.  The name comes from the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.

    Class Rank:  A students standing based on his or her academic record as compared with that of other members of the class is known as class rank. In a class of 100, the student with the highest grade point average would be # 1; the lowest grade point average would be #100.

    CEEB College Entrance Examination Board:  The College Board is a not-for-profit membership association whose mission is to connect students to college success and opportunity. Founded in 1900, the College Board is composed of more than 5,700 schools, colleges, universities and other educational organizations. 

    College Placement I (CPI):  Courses at Ashland High School that are student-oriented and characterized by lively classroom discussion, group projects, and homework appropriate for high school graduation. CPI classes can prepare students for college with appropriate planning. 

    College Placement II (CPII):  Courses at Ashland High School that require a moderate to extensive intellectual development and outside preparation.  These courses are designed to prepare students for college-level work.  Students are assumed to be self motivated.

    College Board –  College Board is an important tool in the college process.  Not only will you use College Board to register for your SATs, but College Board will also send SAT and AP scores to the colleges you decide to apply to.  College Board also has a college search feature, which is a great feature when narrowing down college choices. 

    College Fair: A gathering of college representatives at a central location is known as a college fair. Students can walk from booth to booth gathering information.  Ashland hosts mini college fairs on campus in September.  Ashland families often participate in larger Spring and Fall college fairs through the New England Association of College Admissions Counselors (NEACAC), which has representatives from military branches as well. 

    College Level Examination Program (CLEP): Credit by examination is one way for students to receive college credit without taking a course.  CLEP is a series of tests that allow students to show what they know in a variety of college disciplines.  CLEP offers general examinations in five broad liberal arts areas, and it offers over 30 examinations in specific subjects, (such as freshman English). 

    College Major:  Field of study chosen as an academic specialty. 

    College Minor:  A secondary area of academic study. 

    Common Application:  An application that is accepted by colleges and universities.  A student may complete it once and copy it to the schools that accept it.  Some schools that accept the common application have a supplemental essay specific to their school. This can be accessed through  Colleges prefer on-line applications. 

    College Scholarship Service (CSS): CSS is the financial aid division of the College Board (CEEB).  It provides a needs analysis service for financial aid applicants. 

    Community Service:  At Ashland High School you are required to complete 10 hours of community service.  Please see community services opportunities in the guidance department.

    Consortium: Several colleges and universities in an area often join together in a consortium, or cooperative association, which gives students the opportunity to use the libraries or take courses at all member institutions.  Consortium members often present joint lecture programs or unusual courses. 

    Cooperative Education:  Known as Co-op, this is a program in which the student alternates between full-time college study and full-time paid employment related to the area of study.  Under this plan, the bachelors’ degree often requires five years to complete. 

    Core Curriculum: A group of courses, in varied areas of the arts and sciences, designated by a college as one of the requirements for a degree is called a core curriculum.
    CSS Profile: The form used by the College Scholarship Service (CSS) to assess a family's ability to pay for a college education.  After information is analyzed, a complete report is sent to  institutions and agencies designated by the students.  Need-based financial aid may be awarded according to the results.  You must register with the CSS to receive the PROFILE Packet.  See your Guidance Counselor for registration forms.  Website address is 

    Dean:  The college administrator that is head of a division or college within a university or college. 

    Decile: The Class ranking of all students in a grade is divided into ten equal sections.  Thus, a students rank may be expressed as “in the third decile”, or third group from the top. 

    Deferred Admission: This is an admissions plan whereby a student applies to a college and is notified of acceptance during the senior year of high school.  The student then may take off a year for travel, work, or other projects before attending.
    Early Action Plan:  Under this plan, highly qualified candidates who apply early may receive offers of admissions by mid-December.  Unlike the Early Decision Plan, the Early Action Plan does not allow an institution to request an applicant to make a prior commitment to matriculate, indicate college preferences, or make any response to an offer of admission until the traditional May 1 candidates reply date.

    Early Admissions: This plan allows students to begin college work after their junior year of high school, usually without a diploma.  This program is usually limited to exceptional students. 

    Early Decision: Some colleges offer to notify applicants of acceptance or rejection during the first semester of their senior year.  Under this plan, applicants agree to attend the institution if they are accepted and must withdraw applications from all other colleges. EARLY DECISION – A student applies early (usually November 1 of the senior year and if accepted is legally bound to attend that college.  Student will usually be accepted by January 1. 

    Electives:  Courses that are chosen by the student to meet the criteria for the degree.
    ETS-Educational Testing Service:  The operational phase of many College Board programs, including the development and administration of the Boards major testing programs, are carried out under contract by the Educational Testing Service.  ETS is a separate and independently-governed nonprofit organization.
    Expected Family Contribution:  The amount that your family is expected to contribute towards your education.  The amount should be similar for different colleges, even though the colleges' costs vary.
    Work study is a government-supported financial aid program coordinated through financial aid offices whereby eligible students (based on need) may work part-time while attending class at least half-time, generally in offices/services on campus.
    Fee Waiver:  This program permits eligible students to submit college applications or test registration forms without the fee.  A limited number are available through your guidance counselor and educational agencies. 
    Financial Aid:  Money that is given or lent to students to help pay for their education.  i.e. grants, scholarships, loans, work study. 

    Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA): Completing the FAFSA is the first step in the financial aid process. The purpose of the FAFSA is to determine your need for federal financial aid.  The FAFSA form is available late in the fall in most guidance offices or online at   It can be filed beginning in January of the year for which you are applying for financial aid. 

    Gap Year:  Taking a year off between high school and college. 

    General Educational Development Examination (GED): The GED is a series of tests that adults take to qualify for a high school equivalency certificate or diploma.  Many colleges will accept satisfactory GED test results in place of a high school diploma.

    Grade Point Average (GPA): An indicator of the students overall scholastic performance, the GPA is computed by totaling the number of grade points earned in each course (generally, A=4, B=3, C=2, D=1, F=0) and dividing the sum by the total number of courses carried. 

    Grant: Monies that are given to a student that does not have to be repaid.—usually given because of financial need. 

    Honors: Courses at Ashland High School that are intense and demand much independent learning as well as critical, creative and analytical thinking. 

    Intercollegiate:  Athletic teams that represent their school in competitions with other schools. 

    Internship:  An opportunity for a student to work under supervision of a professional.  Internships are referred to as “hands on experience.” These may be required by the college and are usually given credits toward graduation.

    Intramural:   Athletic teams that compete against other teams made up of students from the same school. 

    Language Proficiency Examination:  This is an examination in a foreign language to determine whether a student has satisfied a college’s foreign language requirement and, if not, into which level he or she should be placed. 

    Liberal Arts:  An education based on traditional arts and sciences.  This includes courses in the Humanities, Social Sciences, Natural Sciences and Mathematics. 

    Loan:  Borrowed money that must be repaid. 

    National Letter of Intent:  The National Letter of Intent (NLI) is a binding agreement between a prospective student-athlete and an institution in which the institution agrees to provide a prospective student-athlete who is admitted to the institution and is eligible for financial aid under NCAA rules athletics aid for one academic year in exchange for the prospective student-athlete's agreement to attend the institution for one academic year.
    Naviance:  Naviance is a tool used by the Ashland High School guidance department to help students discover potential career paths, as well as explore potential colleges, and keep track of college applications.  It can be a great tool to help students find the college that is right for them.  All students have an account, with a log in name and password, which is set up the first time you log in.

    Non-Binding Acceptance:  If the student is accepted by the college, he or she is free to consider attendance at other schools.

    Official Transcript:  Most colleges will only accept a transcript that bears the high school seal and is mailed directly from the high school to the college. 

    Open Admissions:  The policy of some colleges of admitting virtually all high school graduates, regardless of academic qualifications (such as high school grades and admission test scores), is known as open admissions. 

    Postgraduate Year (PG):  A year of study taken beyond high school to strengthen academic abilities for application to college. 

    Preliminary Scholastic Assessment Test/National Merit Scholarship QualifyingTest PSAT/NMSQT: The PSAT/NMSQT is an October practice test for juniors (and some sophomores) designed to give the student an idea of the procedures, questions, and scope of the SAT.  Detailed results are reported in a way that helps the student see strengths and weaknesses.  

    Probable School:  A school that the student meets most of the admission criteria. 

    Private College: A private college is owned privately but often receives grants from public sources.  Admission is open to all qualified applicants. 

    Public College:   A public college is owned by a public entity (such as a state and funded by a combination of public funds and tuition fees.  Admission is open to all qualified applicants.  

    Qualified Acceptance:  Occasionally an institution postpones action on an application and will suggest that the applicant pursue a particular course in its summer session.  Upon satisfactory completion of this course, the college agrees to accept the student for its regular degree programs at the beginning of the first or second semester. 

    Reach School:  A school that is highly competitive and the student may not meet all of the admission criteria. 

    Registratar:  The person on a college or university campus who is responsible for all the grades and credits given by the institution. Students register for courses and receive their grades from the Registrar.  

    Resume:  A summary or outline of the student’s achievements, activities, employment, and awards/honors. 

    Qualified Acceptance:  Occasionally an institution postpones action on an application and will suggest that the applicant pursue a particular course in its summer session.  Upon satisfactory completion of this course, the college agrees to accept the student for its regular degree programs at the beginning of the first or second semester. 

    Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC) Programs: Conducted by certain colleges in cooperation with the United States Air Force, Army, and Navy.  This combines military education with baccalaureate degree study, often with financial support for those students who commit themselves to future service in the Armed Forces.  Local recruiting offices of the services themselves can supply detailed information about these programs, as can participating colleges.  

    Rolling Admission:  When students are notified of acceptance or rejection to a college within a short time frame after the receipt of a completed application, this is known as rolling admissions.  (The length of this time varies from one institution to another.)  Colleges using Rolling Admissions continue to accept students until their freshman class is filled.  Usually it is wise to apply early to such colleges, since applications are normally not accepted after the admissions quota has been reached. 

    Safety School:  A school where the student exceeds the admission criteria. 

    Scholarships: Money that is awarded usually for academic merit.  This does not have to be paid back.
    SAT Reasoning Test: A three-hour (mostly multiple choice) test that measures Verbal and Mathematical reasoning abilities and writing. Most colleges require applicants to submit SAT scores as part of the admissions process.  Tests are scored on a scale of 200 - 800 with an accumulated maximum score of 2400.
    SAT Subject Tests:  A series of 16 subject area exams sponsored by the College Board.  Students may take one, two or three exams on any test date.  The scores provide a national standard to measure a student's classroom achievement.  Tests subjects include areas such as English Literature, American History, European History, Math, Latin, Spanish, Biology, Chemistry and Physics.  Tests are scored on a scale of 200 -800.  Some selective colleges use SAT subject tests as part of the admission process.
    School Profile:  A document that includes pertinent information on the high school and the community.  It generally includes:  size of school, percentage of students who go on to college, the average SAT and ACT scores of the previous class and how GPA is calculated, while the transcript provides the admissions office with information on the student, the profile provides information on the school the student attends and the community of residence.  

    Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL1):  A test offered to assess knowledge of written and spoken English for students whose native language is not English.  May be taken by students living in the US for less than five years.  TOEFL results are accepted in lieu of SAT at some schools.  More competitive colleges will require the SAT as well.  

    Waiting List: If the student has been wait-listed, this means the decision for admission has not been finalized. Once colleges determine the size if their incoming freshman class, they will then decide if they can admit students from the wait list. This usually occurs after May 1. 

    Work–Study:  Money allocated in the financial aid package that a student earns by working part-time on the campus.