Audit – To take a course for non-credit purposes. Audit students do not take tests or write papers or receive a grade.
Continuing Education Units (CEUs) – Many colleges have a Continuing Education Division or a College of Extended Studies. It consists of coursework that meets community needs at times and locations convenient for working adults. They may or may not be for credit.
Subjects vary -- they can be leisure and recreational courses, such as square dancing, cooking, yoga, furniture making, genealogy, or photography. Or they can be courses that meet professional education needs, such as license renewal, a professional certificate or keeping up-to-date in a career field.
Noncredit courses are usually taught by experts in the subject matter, not faculty members. Upon completion, students are often awarded CEUs, based on the number of clock hours he/she attended class. Ten clock hours equal one CEU. CEUs do not equate to college credit nor can they be transferred into another college.
Credit – A unit of measure representing an hour (50 minutes) of instruction over a 15-week period in a semester system or a 10-week period in a quarter system. For most purposes, credit is synonymous with hour and unit. To complete the requirements for a degree, a student typically has to complete courses representing a set number of credits. For example, typically a bachelor's degree requires completion of 120 credits in specific academic areas, while an associate's degree typically requires completion of 60 credits.
Compressed Term – A normal semester term is about 15 weeks; a quarter term is 10 weeks. Some colleges (especially on-base schools) compress their terms into a shorter time frame, for example, 8 weeks or on weekends.
Degree Plan – A table that shows which courses and how many credits are required to earn a specific degree in a specific major, along with the courses you've already completed and credits you've already earned. Together, these show you how close you are to earning that specific degree in that specific major.
Electives – Electives are courses you choose based on your interests or to explore other avenues of study. Every degree program will allow you to choose some courses for yourself. Some electives have to be taken to satisfy particular topic areas, some are free – meaning you can take any course you want to fill it.
Entitlement – Under the various GI Bill education assistance programs you start out with an entitlement of 36 months of benefits. As you pursue education or training and use your benefit, one day is deducted from your entitlement for every full day you're in class. If you're pursuing your education or training less than full-time, a partial day is deducted from your entitlement for every day you're in class. (E.g., if you're attending school half-time – 6 to 8 semester credits in college or 4 hours in a training program – half a day is deducted for every full day you're in class.)
Full Course Load – A full-time student normally takes 15 to 17 semester credits a term. This equates to at least 5 courses. However, most colleges officially designate 12 or more credits during a semester term as full-time. The number of instructional periods corresponds to the number of credits awarded. If a course is 3 semester credits, it generally meets 3 times a week for an hour (or 50 minutes) each time.
General Education Requirement – General education courses are those everyone must take no matter what degree they are pursuing. Each school has its own list of core courses, but most require a mix of English, arts, humanities, social sciences, and physical or natural science courses. These courses are the most easily transferable.
Grade Point Average (GPA) – Each A is worth 4 grade points; B, three points; C, two points; and D, one point.
If you take a 3-credit-hour course in English Composition and make an A (4 grade points), you have earned 12 grade points. To determine your GPA for an entire term, divide the number of credits you took into the number of grade points you made.
Virtually all colleges require a GPA of at least 2.0 (C) for graduation. Virtually all graduate schools require a GPA of at least 3.0 (B).
NOTE: Grades of D or F are NOT usually transferable into another college or university.
Graduate School prepares you for a degree higher than a bachelor's degree: a master's, doctoral, or professional degree. (See Graduate School & Degrees)
Major – Your chosen field of study. For a bachelor’s degree, you focus on a discipline by taking between 10 and 20 required courses in that area, primarily in the last two years of a 4-year bachelor’s degree. The first two years are primarily general education.
Minor – Courses in an area of study which compliment your major. If you take enough of them, they may qualify you for a minor in that field. For instance, if you’re interested in going to medical school you may decide to major in biology and get a minor in chemistry. A minor represents from 5 to 12 courses in a specific subject.
Portfolio Assessment – Getting credit for what you already know. It’s often called “Credit for Prior Learning or Credit for Life Experience,” or something similar. You prepare, with the assistance of college staff, a portfolio that presents your experiences, learning that has resulted, and evidence or documentation that you’ve learned these things. Includes such things as work experience (paid or volunteer), community activities, hobbies, travel, independent study and formal training not taken in college.
Prerequisite – A course that prepares you for another course at a higher level. For example, you must take Accounting 101 before you can take Accounting 102.
Professional Degree – A professional degree is one that prepares you to work in a specific (usually licensed) profession such as law, accounting, medicine, religious ministry, and others. (See "Degree Descriptions")
Residency Requirement – The number of credits that must be taken with a particular college in order to receive a degree from that school. Some colleges require a year (30 semester credits or 10 courses), either on campus or through distance learning. Some just require 15 semester credits or 5 courses. Often this residency requirement must be taken in your senior year. Servicemembers Opportunities Colleges have less stringent residency requirements or none at all.
Rolling Enrollment – As opposed to semester, quarter, or trimester enrollment, rolling enrollment allows students to enroll at anytime and then work independently for a certain length of time to complete the material in the course.
Self-paced – A self-paced course or program has loosely-defined time frames for learners to complete their course work. Most have no fixed starting or ending dates, due dates for assignments, or exam dates. Most will not allow students to complete the course in less than a certain amount of time (typically six weeks) and do allow students to take as much as a year to do so.
Term-based – A course or program that starts and ends on fixed dates (typically five to fifteen weeks apart) during which there are fixed dates for assignments and tests.
Transcript – A permanent academic record of your courses and grades, with your term and cumulative GPA. Students request transcripts from their college, either for themselves (unofficial) or for an official copy to be sent directly to another college. Colleges may charge a fee for each transcript sent. How do you get a transcript if your college no longer exists? Contact the State Department of Education (the state your college was in.)
NOTE: If you owe the college money, it will not issue a transcript until your “bill” is settled.
Undergraduate – a student who is working toward an associate's or bachelor's degree; an institution that awards associate's or bachelor's degrees; a program that leads to an associate's or bachelor's degree.