College Lingo: What to Know Before You Go

Facebook Twitter Linkedin Plusone Email


“Be sure to meet with your academic advisor previous to your first semester to apply for admissions by completing an application that will ensure your full-time enrollment and registration in the classes that fulfill the prerequisite and curricula requirements for your associate degree.”

HUH?! WHAT?! Is this some sort of foreign language? I bet you’re thinking to yourself, “I should have paid more attention in my foreign language classes in high school and I would know what this is saying!”

The college experience comes with its own terminology and can sound like a foreign language to many new students (and parents). By understanding the lingo to know before you go, your overall college experience will be less like a trip to a foreign country where you don’t speak the native language and more like the academic adventure it’s supposed to be for students! Enjoy your adventure! Bonne Chance! Buena Suerte! Good luck!

Application – The process by which a prospective student submits the required forms and credentials to his/her chosen institution. This process is the first step in enrolling in the college of your choice.

Admission – This is the status granted to a student who meets the prescribed requirements of the application process.

Core Curriculum – The core curriculum is a set of courses in the liberal arts, humanities, sciences, and political, social, and cultural histories that all undergraduates of an institution of higher education are required to complete before receiving a degree. The Texas Core Curriculum consists of 42 semester credit hours.

Enrollment – This is the procedure by which students choose classes each semester. It also includes the assessment and collection of fees.

Grade Point Average (GPA) – An average of a student’s grades, converted to a 4.0 scale (4.0 is an A, 3.0 is a B, 2.0 is a C, and 1.0 is a D).

Syllabus – An outline of the important information about a course. Written by the instructor, it usually includes important dates, assignments, expectations, and policies specific to that course.

Credit Hours – Courses taken in college are measured in terms of these. To earn one of these, a student must attend a class for one classroom hour (usually 50 minutes) per week for the whole semester (usually 16 weeks). Classes are offered in 1-5 hour increments.

Curriculum – This is composed of those classes prescribed or outlined by an institution for completion of a program of study leading to a degree or certificate.

Associate Degree – A two-year degree offered by colleges.

Academic Advisor – Another term for a staff member who helps students with the planning and scheduling of appropriate classes.

Career Programs – Certificate or degree programs leading directly to employment.

Community College – A two-year college that offers programs leading to transfer degrees (AA and AS) as well as career degrees (AAS), certificates, and community outreach programs.

Full-Time Student – A student who takes twelve or more credit hours during a sixteen week semester. This is typically 4-5+ classes.

Part-Time Student – A student who takes eleven or less hours during a sixteen week semester. This is typically 1-3 classes.

Prerequisites – Requirements, such as a developmental or college-level course, or a minimum placement test score, which must be completed before enrolling in a college-level course.

Registration – The process of meeting with an academic advisor to plan the next semester’s courses and then registering for those courses online, or taking the course-planning form to the Advising & Counseling Services Office for manual registration on the computer.

Semester – An academic term of study. At Victoria College, the length of this term is 16 weeks.

Transcript – An official record of the student’s grades in the courses attempted and/or completed.

Transfer Programs – A variety of courses of study designed for students who plan to transfer to a four-year school to complete a baccalaureate degree (bachelor degree). At Victoria College, transfer students are working toward either an Associate of Arts (AA) degree or an Associate of Science (AS) degree, both of which require at least 60 semester hours of transfer courses for completion.

Catalog – This document provides information parents and students need to know about a college or university. It lists policies and procedures, courses of study, degrees and certificates offered, admission and enrollment procedures, financial aid, student life, student life activities, etc.

Schedule of Classes – Colleges publish and distribute this booklet for each semester. Here at Victoria College, students and parents can find this information on the VC homepage at or in the Pirate Portal. Each course is designated by course department, course number, times and days the course meets, the room number and building name, and the instructor’s name.

- Vashti Berry

Facebook Twitter Linkedin Plusone Email