College Lingo

You’ll probably be hearing all kinds of unfamiliar words around campus, especially if this is your first experience at a college. The following are some college terms that you will probably want to make a part of your vocabulary:

Academic Calendar: A period of time from the start of the fall semester usually at the end of August and continuing through the completion of the winter usually in early May.

Academic Probation: A warning to students who are not making satisfactory academic progress. For example, a student who has completed 10 credit hours or more at MCCC is placed on probation at the end of the semester when his or her cumulative Honor Point Average at MCCC falls below 1.8.

Accredited: A college or program which has been certified as fulfilling certain standards by a national and/or regional professional association.  Accredited schools enable students to qualify for admission to other accredited institutions. MCCC is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission and a member of the North Central Association.

Articulation: The process of evaluating courses to determine whether coursework completed at one college will meet the requirements for admission, transfer credit, general education, or major preparation at another college.

Articulation Agreement: Agreements between community and four-year colleges which indicate the acceptability of courses in transfer toward meeting specific degree requirements.

Associate Degree (AA/AS/AAS/AFA): A degree granted by MCCC to students who complete a specified program of study (minimum of 60 credit hours).  Associate degrees are sometimes called two year degrees, in contrast to the four-year or bachelor’s degree awarded by a four-year university.

Audit: To attend a class for the purpose of reviewing the information.  No grades or credits are given, but you are still required to register and pay tuition.

Bachelor’s (Baccalaureate) Degree: A level of education marked by the completion of the equivalent of four or more years of full-time education (at least 124 semester credit hours)

Certificate: An award granted upon completion of a prescribed series of courses preparing students for employment in selected occupational/vocational fields which require training beyond high school.  A certificate may be earned while preparing for an associate degree.

College Catalog: A book published by a college, or available online, describing requirements for admission, degrees and services offered, and course descriptions.  

Credit Hour: Credit hours measure academic work and generally show the amount of time a class meets each week. An hour in class per week generally translates into one credit. However, some lab and technical courses have additional meeting times.

Electives: Courses that are not used to meet specific major, general education, or graduation requirements, but can be used to complete the total credit hours required for a degree.

Full-Time Student: Student enrolled for a specified minimum number of credit hours (or more) set by the college or university. 12 semester hours (Fall and Winter Semesters) and six hours (Spring and Summer) is considered full-time at MCCC.

General Education Requirements: A program of courses that provide students with a broad educational experience.  Courses typically are introductory in nature and provide students with fundamental skills and knowledge in written communication, mathematics, social sciences, arts and humanities, science, and computer skills.  Transfer students often take these classes while attending MCCC.

Grade Point Average: The average of all grades received—also called GPA and cumulative grade-point-average.

Graduate: Courses offered beyond the bachelor's degree level.  Also, students who have received a bachelor's degree and who are enrolled in post-baccalaureate instruction are called “graduate students”.

Master's Degree: A degree beyond the bachelor's, also called a graduate degree. Master of arts and master of science degrees are most common, but there are also professional master's degrees, such as master of fine arts or master of business administration.  A master’s degree usually takes two years (full-time) to complete.

Major: A program of study which leads to a degree (approximately 30 semester hours of concentrated course work in one area).

Minor: Approximately 18 credits in an area outside a student’s major department.

Official Transcript: A document of your official record of grades and courses from time of entrance to end of latest semester that is sent from one college to another.

Prerequisites: Courses that must be completed before taking a specific course.

Registration: The act of scheduling classes each term.

Semester: One type of term within an academic year marking the beginning and end of classes. At MCCC, each semester is 15 weeks in length, and there are two semesters (fall and winter) in an academic year. Spring and Summer semester is eight weeks in length.

Syllabus: Course outline of material to be covered in the duration of a specific class.

Transcript: Official record of all coursework and grades from a particular college or university.

Transfer Courses: College courses giving credit which may be transferred to another college.

Tuition: A fee that is paid for instruction in a school, college, or university.

Undergraduate: An enrolled student who has not completed a baccalaureate degree.

Work Study: A federally funded program that makes part-time jobs available to students with financial need.

Some terms have been taken from College is Only The Beginning: A Student Guide to Higher Education, John N. Gardner and A. Jerome Jewler, copyright 1989, Wadsworth Inc., pages 306-320.