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Glossary of Higher Ed. Terms

Glossary of Higher Education Terms
Term Definition
Academics Anything directly related to the delivery of instruction. Course descriptions, Class Schedules, Faculty Information, Graduation Requirements, etc. (as distinct from "student services").
Academic Adviser A counselor or instructional faculty member who helps you select your classes and helps you identify your career and/or transfer interests.
Academic Alert A student will be placed on academic alert if he or she has a cumulative grade point average (GPA) below 2.0 and is not on academic restriction or suspension.
Academic Regulations Academic Regulations are the official policies and rules of the institution which apply to faculty, staff and students concerning matters which directly affect academic standards. Includes such topics as academic standards, grading system and standards, registration and withdrawal from classes, choosing and/or changing your curriculum, petition and appeal, and much more. MC Academic Regulations may be examined online.
Academic Restriction A student who has attempted 12 credit hours or more and whose cumulative GPA falls below 1.75 will be placed on academic restriction.
Academic Suspension  A student who has attempted 30 credit hours or more and whose cumulative GPA falls below 1.25 will be placed on academic suspension.
Accelerated Program Completion of a college program of study in fewer than the usual number of years, most often by attending summer sessions and carrying extra courses during the regular academic term.
Accreditation A process by which an institution is determined to have met an acceptable level of quality.
Accuplacer The testing tool Montgomery College uses to assess new students' reading, English and math skills. Results of the Accuplacer test help counselors and academic advisors recommend appropriate course placements.
Admission The process of becoming officially recognized as a student. Once admitted to a particular institution, you do not have to go through this process again unless you stop out from this institution for an extended period of time. You must fill out an admissions application form and submit it to Montgomery College to begin the admissions process. (see also " registration", which is required every semester during which you wish to take classes).
Adult Student Services Admissions assistance, support, orientation, and other services expressly for adults who have started college for the first time, or who are re-entering after a lapse of a few years.
AELP American English Language Program -- a program of courses for students whose first language is not English.
Alumni Persons who have graduated from the institution.
Advising Shorthand for "academic advising" -- assistance with the process of planning what courses need to be taken in what sequence in order to reach your academic goal.  In the early stages of your college career, while still formulating your goals, some advising might be provided by counselors.  Once you  have selected a curriculum, advising will become a part of your interaction with the full-time faculty in the related department.
Applicant (first-time, first-year) An individual who has fulfilled the requirements to be considered for admission (including payment or waiving of the application fee, if any) and who will be notified of one of the following actions: admission, denial, placement on the waiting list, or application withdrawn (by applicant or institution).
Application Fee The amount of money charged for processing a student's application for admission. This amount is not creditable to tuition and required fees, nor is it refundable if the student is not admitted to the institution. 
Articulation Agreement An agreement between institutions that provides assurance of smooth transfer of credit from one to the other, at least in selected programs of study.  Montgomery College has many formal articulation agreements, most prominently with University of Maryland system institutions.
Assessment Level A course requirement that indicates the level of college-readiness a student must have in English, reading, or mathematics in order to enroll in a course.
Assessment Test Basic skills tests in English, reading, and math that place a student into certain courses and determine eligibility for others. 
Associate's Degree An award that is generally earned after completing at least two years but less than four years of full time equivalent, required college coursework.
Audit A way to register (and pay) for a " credit" course without receiving a letter grade on your transcript.  Used for several reasons:  among the most common being to review material for which you already have a passing grade on your record, or for courses taken purely out of personal interest which are not required in your chosen curriculum. 
Bachelor's Degree An award (baccalaureate or equivalent degree, as determined by the Secretary of the US Department of Education) that normally requires at least four years but not more than five years of full-time equivalent college-level coursework.
Campus The place where all of this happens -- the buildings, parking lots, athletic fields, etc. Montgomery College has three campuses, in Germantown, Rockville, and Takoma Park. Some courses are also offered "off-campus" which typically means that the actual classes take place in buildings that are not owned by the College -- for example, in space provided by some business that is interested in having certain after-work learning opportunities easily available for their employees.
Career Program A curriculum designed primarily for direct entry into the workplace upon completion, although some do also provide alternatives for extension into a 4-year degree.  Examples: Advertising Art, Landscape Technology, or Microcomputer Repair.
Catalog A book containing academic information about Montgomery College, including degree requirements, curriculum outlines, and college policies.
Certificate A record of successful completion of a shorter program of study (generally 12-38 credits), typically with application to skills needed for immediate entry into the workplace  (see also "degree").
Closed Class A course for which the maximum number of students is already enrolled. A student cannot enroll in such a class unless someone drops and a seat becomes available.
Concurrent Enrollment The opportunity for qualified high school juniors and seniors to earn college credit. Montgomery College offers several concurrent enrollment programs at Montgomery County Public Schools and at Montgomery College.
Continuing Education The unit with most direct responsibility for planning and delivering non-credit courses. The name is intended to reflect the fact that the largest demand for such instruction tends to come from adults returning to school seeking to expand their job skills, their life skills (courses in taxes, investment, or home repair), or simply to stretch their minds. The unit is officially called "Workforce Development and Continuing Education" at Montgomery College, to reflect renewed emphasis on working with local employers to help meet their training needs, particularly in rapidly changing "hi-tech" fields.  May include some credit as well as non-credit offerings.
Corequisite A course that must be taken at the same time as another course.
Course The typical unit of instruction from which students assemble their educational experience.  Traditionally, a certain number of hours per week over the span of a semester, during which a particular set of subject matter is investigated under the guidance of a single teacher.  The College Catalog contains descriptions of all courses offered by the college including information about credits earned, pre-requisites if any, type of instruction used, and specific content that will be studied.
Course Number The number assigned to a particular course (for example, EN 101).
Counseling The catch-all name for professional guidance in just about any area that might be related to your College success.  Could mean anything from development of better study skills to assistance with serious personal issues. "Counselors" are the  faculty and staff with professional credentials in this field. Can overlap with academic " advising", particularly in the early semesters of planning your educational goals.
CRN Course Reference Number.  The unique identifier for each class section that is used for filling out registration forms.
Credit Has several closely related meanings:
  • A measure of the total instructional content of each course, usually related to the total hours of instruction. The term "credits" is relatively modern shorthand for the phrase "credit hours". As an example, a History course which meets for three one-hour sessions a week over a traditional 15-week semester would be identified as a 3-credit course. The laboratory portion of a Chemistry course, on the other hand, would typically require 3 or 4 hours of scheduled time in the lab each week to earn one credit. Graduation requirements (and tuition charges) are based on credits.
  • Courses which are primarily designed to earn academic credits toward a degree or certificate are often called "credit courses", as distinct from "non-credit" courses that are designed for some other purpose (see "Continuing Education").
  • In discussions of grade-point calculations, "credit" is sometimes used to mean any course in which a grade of A-F was earned -- as distinct from courses taken as " audit".
Counseling The catch-all name for professional guidance in just about any area that might be related to your College success. Could mean anything from development of better study skills to assistance with serious personal issues. "Counselors" are the  faculty and staff with professional credentials in this field. Can overlap with academic " advising", particularly in the early semesters of planning your educational goals.
Curriculum Also called "Program of Studies".  A set of required and elective courses designed to meet specific career or transfer goals, and leading to some degree or certificate upon successful completion.  Curriculum descriptions typically lay out not only the list of courses required, but also the order in which some of them should (or must) be taken (pre-requisites, and/or co-requisites).
Degree Official confirmation by the institution that you have successfully completed an extended program of studies. Traditional 4-year undergraduate programs lead to the Bachelor's Degree. Montgomery College offers 2-year Associate degrees in Arts, Science, and Applied Sciences -- some designed as direct preparation for immediate entry into a career, others for transfer into a 4-year program upon completion.
Degree Audit An advising tool that helps  a student know what courses are left to take in order to graduate with a specific degree.
Degree Seeking Student A student who is enrolled in courses for credit which will lead to a formal award, e.g. associate's degree, bachelor's degree.
Department Faculty are typically organized into Departments along disciplinary lines to assist with efficiency of planning and program development activities. Depending on the size of the school, a single department might encompass just one or several disciplines. 
Developmental Course A course that prepares students for success in subsequent college-level courses. Typically have course numbers that begin with zero (e.g. IERW001, IERW002, MATH045, MATH045...). Credits earned in a developmental course will NOT count toward satisfying any degree or certificate program requirement. 
Discipline  Generally the name given to that set of courses which are identified by a particular four-letter prefix in the College catalog -- ENGLish, NURSing, BIOLogy, for example.  Means about the same thing as "subject" in secondary school.  (See also " department")
Distance Learning  Has come to mean any use of modern communications technology to allow interaction between instructor and students outside the scope of the traditional classroom. Can mean television, internet, the web, or any combination of the above. Some Montgomery College courses are taught entirely in distance learning mode. Others include distance components to augment more traditional face-to-face instruction.
Drop To remove oneself from a particular class section during the schedule adjustment period.
Early Placement Program A policy under which students who have not completed high school are admitted and enroll in college, usually after completion of their junior year (see concurrent enrollment).
Elective A course in which the student has some choice or selection -- as distinct from a course that is absolutely required in a particular curriculum.  In many cases, "electives" may be limited within categories -- as for example to satisfy General Education requirements where some elective credits must be taken from Humanities, others from Arts, others from Science, etc.
Faculty In its simplest usage -- those directly responsible to plan and deliver the academic program. "Full-Time" faculty are assigned many regular duties above and beyond hours devoted to individual courses, including responsibilities for program development, curriculum advising, and service on a wide variety of committees and task forces within the College. "Part-Time" faculty are generally assigned to teach only one or two courses in any given semester, with no formal duties outside the scope of those courses.
FAFSA The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is the application for education loans and grants from the federal government.
FERPA A set of regulations that guarantees a student the right to inspect and review his/her educational records, the right to amend those educational records, and the right to some control over the disclosure of the records.  
Freshman Traditional name for first-year students in four-year degree programs. At MC, a freshman is any student who has earned fewer than 28 credit hours.
Full-Time Student A student enrolled in 12 or more credit hours in a semester.
Good Academic Standing A student with a cumulative GPA of 2.0 or better.
GPA (gpa) Shorthand for "grade point average". The standard measure for determining overall academic standing. Montgomery College, like almost all US institutions, uses the scale  A=4, B=3, C=2, D=1 and F=0. No other grades (Audit or Withdraw, for example) are included in computing the GPA.   Grade points for each course are multiplied by the number of credits assigned to that course, these values are summed, and that total is finally divided by the total number of credits for these courses to arrive at the GPA.
Honors Program One of any special programs for high achieving students offering the opportunity for educational enrichment, independent study, acceleration or some combination of these (see honors programs).
Independent Study Academic work chosen or designed by the student with the approval of the department concerned, under an instructor's supervision, and usually undertaken outside the regular classroom structure.
Major Shorthand for "major subject".  Nowadays means about the same thing as "curriculum" or "program of study" 
Matriculate To be formally accepted as a degree or certificate candidate in a specific curriculum or major.  i.e.  "I think I'll be a Communications major" would translate more formally as  "I plan to matriculate in the Communications curriculum".
Orientation A program of activities for new students designed to introduce them to some of the essential knowledge and skills for a successful College experience. May include topics ranging from selection of courses to child care and parking.
Override Written or electronic permission given by a counselor or faculty adviser to enter a class.
Part-time Student  A student enrolled in fewer than 12 credit hours in a semester.
Pre-requisite A requirement that certain courses must be successfully completed before others may be attempted.  Sometimes requires a grade of C or better in the earlier course -- if so this will be stated explicitly in the course description for the later course.
Professor Instructor of a college-level course.
Program of Study See curriculum.
Quality Points  Semester credit hours multiplied by the numerical equivalent of a letter grade.
R Abbreviation for "Thursday" in the Montgomery College schedule of classes.
Registration The process of planning your courses every semester, and reserving your place by paying the tuition bill.  Can now be done entirely online by many students who have already been admitted to Montgomery College.
Schedule of Classes  A guide to classes for each semester, with specific information about instructors, times, and locations.
Semester Period of time within which a course will be completed. Traditionally 15 weeks long -- so that a basic three credit hour course would be one that met three hours each week for 15 weeks, or a total of 45 hours of instructional time.  Montgomery College has regular 15-week semesters in the "Fall" (early September - late December) and in the "Spring" (late January - early May).  Also two Summer Semesters, each lasting for only about 5 calendar weeks, so about three times as many class hours per week as during a regular semester to reach same total instructional time.
Sophomore Traditional name for second-year students in four-year degree programs. At MC, a sophomore is any student who has earned at least 28 credit hours.
Student Services Services provided by a College that are not explicitly " academic".  e.g.  Bookstores, Counseling, Career Centers, Child Care, Dining Facilities, Financial Aid, Internship programs, Parking, Placement Centers, Security Assistance, etc.
Syllabus A summary document prepared by the instructor that states basic information about plans for a particular course in a particular semester. Can include such things as textbook lists, office hours, test dates, required assignments, chapters to be covered, learning objectives, etc.
TBA To Be Announced   --  Seen in the schedule of classes when exact instructor, or sometimes exact classroom, was not yet known at the time the schedule was sent to the printer.
Transcript A formal record of grades received in all courses you have taken, and whether any degrees or certificates have been successfully completed.  Must generally be sent directly from one College to the other when planning to transfer, or when applying to begin a higher degree program. 
Transfer Program A two-year curriculum that is specifically designed to prepare for transfer with minimal loss of credits as the first half of a Bachelor's degree program. Montgomery College has many curricula articulated for smooth transfer to four-year programs, especially with University of Maryland system institutions.
Tuition The fees charged specifically to cover the cost of instruction -- generally computed by a formula based upon credit hours. 
U Abbreviation for "Sunday" used in the Montgomery College schedule of classes.
Vice President and Provost The chief academic officer on campus.
Withdraw The act of filing paperwork to remove yourself from the official class roster, either for a single course or for an entire semester. If done early enough in the semester the course (or courses) will not appear on your transcript at all. Is not allowed within about the last three weeks of the semester. For the rest of the semester, will show on your transcript as a W grade. Exact dates for these withdraw periods are published in the  Semester Calendar for each semester. Terminating your class participation without completing the "withdraw" paperwork can lead to a grade of F on your record.
Work-Study Student  A student employee receiving financial aid.