Vocabulary & Abbreviations For College Admission

Basic Admissions Vocabulary and Abbreviations You Should Know About

When applying for college admissions, you are bound to come across unfamiliar vocabulary that may seem like a whole other language. It would be best if you tried to understand this lingo and made yourself aware of the acronyms that you might encounter during your college admission process.  

To help you with the slightly uphill task, here we've listed out all the critical terms that you might encounter when communicating with other students in similar situations or when participating in discussions about college admissions. We're here to help you as you familiarize yourself with this language.  

College Admission Terminology and Acronyms

This collection of acronyms contains some of the most common terms you will encounter when dealing with your college application.

  • EA: Early Action. EA refers to a type of early admission process for colleges in the United States. Applicants under the EA process usually have to send their college application by November 1st. The results may be disclosed by the end of the fall semester. The key takeaway here is that the offer you receive is non-binding, and you can decline it even after acceptance from your prospective college.
  • ED: Early Decision. ED consists of the same deadlines and timelines as the EA application process, but the offer you receive under ED is binding. You must understand that once you have an offer from a college accepted under the ED admission process, you are liable to acceptance and enrolment in that college.
  • SSR: Secondary School Report. You must have come across recommendation forms that are provided by your counselor. Well, these recommendation forms are also termed as SSRs. Mind you, an SSR is an important document that must be submitted along with your application form. It provides a better reference for the comparison of your skills and abilities as compared to other applicants.
  • RD: Regular Decision. An application that you will use for a majority of your college application, offers received under RD are non-binding. The deadline to apply is around January 1st, and you might not be updated on the decision until mid-March.  
  • SCEA: Single Choice Early Action. Often used by prestigious colleges and universities such as Harvard, this type of admission process is a combination of EA and ED. You should understand that while the timelines are the same as EA and ED, you will not be allowed to apply for more than one college under this process. But you have until May 1st to decide on the non-binding offer presented by the college.  
  • DOI: Demonstration of Interest. The activities that showcase your interest in college are grouped as DOI. These activities are essential to your college application. They demonstrate that you are actively pursuing your interest in college and doing everything in your power to become a part of it. The activities include campus visits, taking a tour of the college facilities, and meeting counselors and admission officers. Read more about demonstrated interest here.
  • URM: Under-Represented Minorities. In your college application form, you must have encountered this term, where you are required to specify if you belong to an ethnic group that might be a minority in the US population. This field is included in application forms to determine and maintain the prescribed attendance of minorities in college. Some of these minorities include African Americans, Latinos, and Native American Indians.    
  • LOR: Letter of Recommendation. These letters are usually written by your teachers to provide credibility to your college applications. These recommendation letters are meant to supplement your college application, so you should certainly be serious about them. Generally, you may be required to present two or more of these from your academic teachers of junior year. While including letters from community members and coaches are acceptable, you must not include such recommendations from your family members.
  • WL: Waitlist. You might be under the impression that there are only two outcomes to your college applications – approval or rejection. But did you know there might be a third outcome as well? Colleges sometimes list candidates who were quite deserving but were not handed an offer since all spots were occupied. The candidates included in this might still get offered provided someone drops out or rejects the offer. Read more about how to get off the waitlist here.
  • RIC: Rank In Class. Often termed as class rank as well, this refers to your level as compared to other candidates in terms of GPA. These ranks are essential, and the higher your rank, the better your chances of securing the coveted spot.
  • OOS: Out of State. You might be termed as an Out-of-State student if the college that you are applying or attending is not located in your state of permanent residence. While such colleges might not be practical in terms of finance and logistics, they offer many benefits over less prestigious in-state colleges.
  • AA: Affirmative Action. A typical policy adopted by most college admission offices, the AA practice is aimed at maintaining and improving diversity among the college population. These usually include plans and programs that are implemented to counter the impacts of bias and discrimination in college admissions.
  • Direct Admissions. Under this admission process, a student may get directly accepted after application. Also termed as Auto Admission or Guaranteed Admission, the admissions are based on outstanding achievements, unique talents, and splendid scores.
  • NML: National Merit List. This merit list includes students that have splendid PSAT scores. The students under this scheme are offered some of the best opportunities in terms of financial aid and facilities. Making it to the National Merit List marks the sign of one's intellectual abilities.
  • Financial Aid. If you are financially incompetent to afford a college education, you don't need to be disheartened. Financial aid includes scholarships and grants that are meant for economically challenged students. Awarded once you prove your worth, these scholarships follow an intricate process, and only the best are awarded financial benefits.  

A few officials crucial to the College Admission Process

  • DOA: Director of Admissions. A significant official in the college admission process, the Director of Admissions, is in charge of the admission process's overall operations. These officials usually manage a team of admission officers that evaluate and access college applications.
  • IEC: Independent Educational Consultant or College Admissions Consultant. The consultants that help and guide students through the college admission process are known by these designations. A good consultant can prove critical to your college campaign.
  • GC: Guidance Counselor. A GC is an official designated by your school to help you plan your college education, including financial aid. You must develop a sincere relationship with your GC since these individuals are also responsible for providing you counselor recommendation letters.  

Terms that should be eliminated from college admission process 

While there is admission terminology that helps to effectively communicate different policies and practices of the college admission process, there are several keywords that are quite misleading and worthless. Not only are these often excessively used in the process, but they also convey stressful aspects of admissions. Before you obsess over them, it is advised that you should strictly avoid their use as they aren't helpful at all.  

Here’s a quick look at a few of these terms:  

  • Passion. Instead of using phrases like 'Find your passion,' college admissions can include better approaches to defining objectives of a college education. Phrases like 'Be involved' and 'develop your interests' are a better way to communicate the same thing.
  • Unique. When people term individual candidates as 'unique,' they are misleading them. You should know that you are unique, no matter what. Every candidate is different from the other, and classifying one a handful of people as unique is not just unfair, but offensive to a certain extent.
  • Dream School . There is no such thing as a dream school or dream college. Instead of placing blind faith in the college that you are being admitted to, you should focus on putting in some real work. Understand that no one would care about the name of the prestigious college you graduated from if you are not able to prove your skills.  
  • Match School. You should care about the fit more than the match. Remember, nothing has to be perfect until it serves the purpose. No one can become successful without the hardships they face.  
  • Stand Out. Often, students are misled to make their applications stand out. You should understand that losing the meaning in the pursuit of lucrative content will do you no good. Only well-composed and meaningful applications prove their worth.

Final Word

The college admission process can often become too complicated for students. More often than not, this is because most students are not able to understand the language references during the admission process. While making yourself aware of the terminology and acronyms helps, you should also be mindful of the misleading ones. Carefully assess the terms that outline the admission process's basics and develop a better understanding of it. The last thing you want is missing out on an opportunity because you weren't able to make sense of terms like Early Action (EA) or Direct Admission.