Learn vocabulary & abbreviations tips for college admission
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 enrollment 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 nonbinding. 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Info Sessions
There can be several information sessions aimed to provide understanding to students who want to become a part of a particular college. Usually held at the college's admission office before a campus tour, it covers topics including the admissions process, school highlights, and more. You would want to attend as many of these sessions as possible.
The admission process might also include a face-to-face interview. While the interview mode can vary subject to circumstances, you should be prepared for the worst. Often the interviews can be telephonic or through video conferencing calls.
- 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:
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.
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.
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.
Prepping for College Admissions – Pointers for Juniors and Seniors
Most students have tons of questions when preparing for college admissions, the most common one being – when should I start preparing for college admissions, and what all should I know? The zeal to excel in every little thing comes with a lot of pressure. This peer pressure leads to much stress and may make you start early or sometimes mismanage the whole process. Consequently, you may end up feeling frustrated and thereby lose out on the more important things involved.
While it is okay to be anxious about the admission process, you should understand that following incorrect steps can lead to a complete failure. Thus, it's always recommended to keep your cool and follow the necessary steps to the best of your abilities.
To help you understand college admissions and complete the involved formalities better, we've prepared a list of steps and advice so that you can beat all this stress and frustration. Following these pointers carefully will remove all the uncertainty from the admission process and help you create a proper schedule for your college admission.
Let’s get started.
Admission Process Timeline
Freshman and sophomore years are now things of the past. Now the real admission process begins in junior year. Here you might have a few questions and confusion over specific topics. But by following the below-mentioned steps, you can clear your checklist of all required documents and processes.
Rising Junior (summer)
If you are entering into Junior Year, you should take it as a stepping stone for your future as a Rising Junior. Get ready for all the work and tasks to do, as indicated below.
- Invest in yourself
The most important part of your life is you. Invest in yourself by:
- Reading – This can structure your thinking and form your character. Initially go for books from various genres, and then you can decide which of them can help you or you like most. You can read newspapers and magazines of interest. The main motto over here is to enrich your mind through more and more reading.
- Maintaining Good Health – Being healthy is an essential part of anyone's life. You should have excellent and timely eating habits. Apart from that, you should exercise daily at fixed times.
- Developing Hobbies – You should develop a hobby and follow it with passion. If possible, you can create a project out of this hobby.
- Meditation – Meditation can bring peace of mind. You may develop different meditation practices like concentrating on a small light source or listening to the voice of birds or music etc. Another way can be to practice yoga.
- Spending Time with family – Family is an integral part of one's life; each member is a pillar supporting you through thick and thin. You could help your siblings, sit and talk with your parents regularly, help them in grocery shopping, help them clean the house, or take care of cooking a meal.
- Community work – You are a part of the community, so contributing your bit is good for you and the community. You can take up any community service, either individually or as a group, based on your interests. You can feed the homeless, or cook for a food bank. You could help coach the kids of your neighborhood in sports or studies. You can also plan to play an instrument for the elderly in retirement homes. This community service will help you grow as a human.
- Entertainment – You should also rejuvenate your mind by any form of positive entertainment you like. Keep your mind clear, and don't burden yourself with the admission process and various school subjects. Enjoy your summer with a short trip with family and friends, or go for a walk or run, listen to music, attend parties, or listen to podcasts.
- Summer Job
If you're planning to engage in a summer job in the field of your choice – it's great. A summer job could involve working in an ice-cream parlor or a café or an industry delivering some items. It should not matter what it is as it will bring you out of your comfort zone, help you develop leadership qualities, and learn a new skill.
- Preparing for PSAT, ACT and SAT
You should always take practice tests before appearing for a formal exam. In this way, there won't be any surprises when you sit for the actual exam.
- PSAT – You can take your PSAT in October, and it will help you in qualifying for the National Merit List (NML) depending on your score.
- ACT and SAT – Practice tests will help you decide which formal exam to take and move forward with. One should take a test in December, which is the earlier part of the spring semester. It is always advisable to complete your examination before junior year.
- SAT subject Tests – For applying to schools of your choice, you should take the SAT subject tests in June or August based on your subjects in classes.
Create a list of all the activities you were involved with in freshman and sophomore years. If you've already created a list, that's bound to be right for you. Now it's time to restructure your activities into different categories:
- Education – All your subjects where you have done above average performance can come here.
- Extracurricular – Anything apart from studies should go here. It can include participation details in school sports and club activities. Also, you can list here any out of school sports or club activities.
- Work Experience – You can add your summer jobs, part-time jobs, or even internships here.
- Community Service – All the community service or elderly and child-care you have done will come here.
- Interests and Hobbies – You can mention your hobbies and related projects you have done in this category.
- Awards, Honors, and Scholarships – Any awards, honors, and scholarships you have earned can be mentioned in this list.
Junior Year (fall)
All the stuff for summer also counts here. Apart from that, additional points are as follows:
- Selecting your course
Your GPA and test course are significant, apart from that course rigor also counts. You should select your class, making a balance on course rigor, your interests, and scoring subjects.
- Know your teachers
Always know your teachers and visit them during office hours. You will have to ask them to give you recommendation letters.
- Maintaining your GPA
While you're working hard for preparing for the next level by practicing tests for the ACT and SAT, you should not lose focus from your current task, i.e., scoring good grades in the existing classes at school.
You should participate in various extracurricular activities at your school. Be a part of a club or sport that interests you. You can be a part of multiple clubs or sports-based upon your interests.
Now that you're well-versed in your junior year, the following steps will help you smoothly move into the senior year:
- Recommendation Letters
You should ask the teachers who taught you in core academic subjects for recommendation letters. It is always advisable to ask teachers from different streams for a letter of recommendation. You should also check your future college website about their requirements. Different colleges have different needs when it comes to recommendation letters.
- College List and Visits
- College List – While you would already have narrowed down a college in your mind, you should still create a list of colleges you want to apply to. You should start with what you want from a college and then create a vast list. Having a small list may make you miss a college of your choice. As and when you go through various parameters of selecting college like subjects, teachers, activities, city, or state, the list will start narrowing down.
- College Visit – Now, you should plan for college visits. You can plan to visit a college near you – even those colleges which are not in your list – to get a feel of what's right for you. You don't have to attend any session or tour for this; just get to feel it by hanging around on the college campus.
After this, you can plan to visit the colleges on your list. Here, you must enroll yourself for tours and info sessions. Talk to existing students about their college and ask them all the questions you have regarding the institute or admission. You can always find a kind soul to entertain your queries.
You can also plan to visit some colleges which are far from your city during spring breaks. The sole purpose of this is to check out the college and finalize the colleges you wish to apply to.
- College Info Sessions and Fairs – You should keep a check on all the planned college info sessions and fairs. Always attend these events and get your questions answered. In these fairs, you will learn the most about the respective colleges and get yourself familiarized with the whole admission process.
- Plan for college
You should now plan for your college on the following things:
- Financial part – There are a lot of things for this to be considered. Few questions are:
- What is the total college fee?
- Will you need financial aid?
- What are the financial aid options these colleges have?
- What are the different scholarship options available?
- What are sports or merit-based aid options available?
- Are you eligible for aids and scholarships?
After getting these answers, you can further revise your college list.
- Location and Weather – You can consider not moving south or north, depending on your preferences. You may want to move near the sea or mountains or maybe someplace warm or cold. You may have a choice for certain urban or rural places.
While considering such factors is right, you shouldn't focus too much on them if you have medical issues that could affect your stay at such places. If not, you should open your mind and be ready to break out of your comfort zone by moving to a place where you can learn and get excellent financial aid. You could lose on good education and sometimes a good scholarship if you keep yourself locked in the shackles of location and weather.
- Culture and Size vs. Teachers and Subjects
Similar to weather and location, you may have preferences about a particular school's culture and size. But again, focusing too much on such things will only make the selection process harder for you. Instead, try concentrating on the real deciding parameters like the subjects which are being taught at a college and the teachers there. You should get in touch with the college teachers if you have a specific query about a particular course or subject.
- Your current score
Among every college's essential admission criterion is to pick students above a minimum score range. Does your current score qualify for your prospective college's standards? This will further refine your college search.
- Give a break to admission process
This is about you, what you want from your future, and, more importantly, who you are and what you want to be. Don't always focus on college admissions and process; give yourself a break every once a while. Don't discuss these topics over family dinners or during weekends. This will help you keep a fresh mind and at peace with all things.
- Separate email address for admissions
You should create a separate email address for all your communication with the college if you get a lot of emails in your current email account. The last thing you'd want would be missed communication from your college in between in your emails. Always check your junk, trash, and spam folders for relevant emails that may have been sent there by error. Also, check on social and promotions headings in your mailbox.
- Get help from the School Counselor
Remember that school counselors are there to help you. Each year they see students going through the same admission process, and hence, they are your best-experienced source to answer all queries about various colleges and admission processes.
Rising Senior (summer)
By this stage, you would have moved a step up from junior year to senior year. All the things which you have done in your junior year (summer) will still apply. Additionally, you will need to keep the following things in mind:
You should write daily to maintain your hold on vocabulary and grammar. You can bifurcate your writing into:
- About Yourself – Write about yourself. You need not worry about anything when writing about yourself. This will make you introspect yourself. Over the days, you will learn about your good points. All these points you have written about yourself will help you to create a Personal Statement. Ensure that your statement is ready before October 1st.
- Practice Essay – The primary purpose of this is to relay who you are to the admission officer. One need not be unique or individually stand out or use heavy words. This is about telling in detail about you and only you. This way, they will know about what you think, believe, value, and act on. You should express yourself and not over-impress the panel as they go through the same process every year. They need to know about you, and this you can achieve by practicing writing essays.
- Finalise your Resume and College List
You should now update your resume and finalize your college list. Also, for the backup plan – you should have a college which you should be sure to get admission into. It may or may not be your dream college, but this college will be your safety net – where you will surely get admission, get financial aid, and see yourself as a successful person.
- Get in touch with colleges
If you haven't got in touch with a few colleges yet, you should get started by doing the following:
- Sign up to request info from colleges
- Follow the admission office on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Always keep your decent profile picture on these pages.
- Connect with the local or regional admission office in case of any queries or questions.
Senior Year (fall)
If you have closely followed the things mentioned above, then most of your work is done. But to be sure, here is a checklist:
- College List and Deadlines
Narrow down on your college list further and have a safety net college as a backup. Apart from this, mention the deadline dates for application submission. You shouldn't wait for the last minute to apply to colleges. In case you have any last-minute queries or doubts, they can be answered if you are applying well in time.
- Recommendation Letters
You should have all your recommendation letters completed. Do send a reminder mail and meet personally with your teacher/recommender. Give them a copy of your resume for reference. Always send them a "Thank you note."
- Guidance counsellor
Check regularly with your high school or college counselors. There may be some information with them which you can benefit from.
- Completing Tests
You should complete all your tests – SAT, ACT, and Subject Tests well within time.
- Personal Statement and Essays
First, complete your statement well before October 1st. Then start on your Essays. Create a list of the following:
- List of college Essays – Categorize each of them by college, major and extracurricular essay. Also, check whether you need any to write any additional info essay.
- Due date of each essay
- Order of essays by due date in ascending order
- Interview Dates and Interview
Every college has a different process of signing up. Go through the college website carefully and check the method of signing up. Some colleges complete signup automatically, while some require you to sign up manually. Check your email – all folders including Social, Promotions, Junk, Trash, and Spam – for interview date and time. Check your voicemails also as some colleges call you to provide dates.
For the interview, keep yourself fresh and be presentable. Believe in yourself, and you will get through it.
- Letter of Continued Interest
A letter of continued interest (LOCI) needs to be written, in case you have deferred Early Decision (ED).
Senior Year (spring)
By this stage, almost everything should have been completed. Now, you'd only need to keep track of the following things:
- Finishing on Applications
All applications would be filled by now. Some colleges may have extended their application submission dates, so make sure you're aware of them. But don't delay an application just because its deadline has been extended. Also, don't forget to fill the forms for your backup colleges.
It is essential to keep your grades up as some colleges have a strict grade criterion.
- Be Optimistic
Take care of your mental and physical health by doing meditation, yoga, walking, running, or other sports. Keep yourself fit, healthy, and optimistic about the future. Waiting for results is a hard time. There may be a couple of rejections; also, a few colleges have quite a different criterion for selecting students. Do not get attached to any specific college. Be sure of yourself, and you will get selected in a good one. Be grateful to all the people who helped you in the admission process, be it family, friends, teachers, or any online information provider.
Enjoy your last days in school with your friends. Keep connected with your family and friends.
We hope this list has helped you understand the steps and processes to be followed for the college admission process, which you should follow in your junior and senior years. Now, take a deep breath, and think about all that you've done for your studies and what else you still need to do. Making a list of to-do tasks will help you achieve your target of admission in your desired college. Wishing you luck for your future!!
Liberal Arts Colleges
Let’s start this one with an analogy. You’ll soon understand why.
Say you’re thinking of having coffee, and you have two options in front of you – one is a famous multinational brand, and the other is a local brew. You take a sip of both varieties side by side and quickly realize that the lesser-known local brand is much better. Now, what would you do? Would you ignore the impact, reach, and trust-value of the branded coffee and choose the local brew over it, or would you do what most people would do?
Before you get confused about the context of that analogy here, let us simplify things.
Going with the popular opinion is what most of us do in our everyday lives. We easily get swayed by marketing tactics and brand images, and thus, instead of choosing a smaller player who might actually be offering more value to us, we go with the flow and pick what everybody else is picking. Believe it or not, that happens with students when selecting which college to attend too.
This is the reason why Liberal Arts colleges are a mystery to most students. For them, the choice of college is often made by parents and society, both of which give more weight to science, technology, and engineering fields over the arts for a better future. But what the world probably needs to realize is that for many students, liberal art colleges can actually offer academic advantages and an extracurricular edge, unlike a better known regular college.
Liberal arts can indeed be an enticing field for many students. In fact, this field was once considered the heart and soul of education! So if you have an inclination towards the finer things in life, you should at least give a thought to picking such a college for your higher studies.
What are Liberal Arts Colleges (LACs)?
LACs work on a concept that’s different from other schools. They foster a personal interaction between students and teachers, and thus, they’re highly dependent on student participation.
Students who are seeking an intimate learning environment revolving around professor-student mentorship and collaboration will find liberal art colleges to be an ideal fit. These colleges are relatively small due to fewer enrollments, but with full-time abundant teaching staff, they’re more likely to pay better attention to your individual learning needs. Usually, such institutions are more focused on your thinking ability and creative problem-solving approach.
How can an LAC benefit you?
The literal meaning of the word “liberal” is broadening a person’s knowledge and experience. Working on the same principle, LACs expose students to a wide range of subjects that encourage them to focus on one thing at a time and then contribute to a solution. They offer students a world-class education with practical experience. Some of the key benefits of LACs include:
- Integrative approach to learning
LACs are not limited to a specific set of knowledge or a particular domain. Liberal education integrates different areas of study and offers a wide range of subjects. From arts to business majors, you can experience it all here. Such colleges will prepare you to work in various sectors, enabling you to make an informed decision when choosing a career path. And it’s no secret that multiple perspectives will always help you regardless of the field you’re in.
- Undergraduate focused studies
Most LACs have their own graduate programs or have strategic relationships with other universities that offer the same. They’re designed to provide undergraduates better opportunities for research and internships, especially to the pre-med students who require a research lab.
- Smaller class size
Prominent universities usually have bigger class sizes; for example, Harvard can accommodate 6,700 students and Williams 2,000. But LACs are relatively smaller as compared to these major public universities. Unlike large amphitheater-like introductory classes, they offer small, intimate, and personalized courses. They have the most preferable learning style with class discussions and the opportunity to have a close relationship with your classmates and professors. They allow for an authentic learning experience and enhanced student engagement through questions.
- Strong alumni
The alumni of such colleges are very active and are involved in their strong relationship with the college. They support as mentors or donors not just to their own school but to other LACs too. This support usually leads to more opportunities for students with engagements like tuition assistance programs from the alumni.
- Post-graduation jobs
LACs have an excellent placement record each year as the students that graduate from them are armed with skills like communications, critical thinking, and multiple perspectives. The acceptance rate of LACs students in medical, law, MBA, and Ph.D. programs is relatively high. Influential alumni, better internship opportunities, supportive professors, and a robust support system from college contribute to this success.
- Social responsibility
LAC students always believe in giving back to the community. They spend considerable time volunteering as compared to other public universities. They look for opportunities in community engagement with service trips during breaks.
Careers after studying at an LAC
LACs are more focused on learning than on choosing a career at the beginning of the degree. They open up more opportunities in different industry sectors for the students. Some of the best sought after job perspectives after a liberal arts course are:
The interdisciplinary knowledge gained by students in LACs provides them with a better perspective to research and explore more. Liberal arts students make great teachers in the future.
Often, liberal art students are driven by creativity and lead in professions like photography, commercial arts, painting, and interior designing, to name a few.
LAC courses include at least one foreign language. So once you have your degree, you can pursue a career as a qualified translator, transcriber, or interpreter or become a language teacher, journalist, etc.
Humanities subject taught by the LACs will help you to understand people’s perspectives better. Coupled with good communication, you can choose advertising, promotions, public relations, copywriting, or news editing.
- Political science
This includes public policy, politics, business, and even working for NGOs and charity.
If you ask an employer what they look for in their employees, the list will often include a collaborative outlook, the ability to view things from multiple perspectives, and adaptability to changing demands. These skills are often overlooked in large reputed colleges where you seldom get the chance to interact and contribute. If you’re considering an education that helps you gain a similar skill set, you should learn more about Liberal Arts Colleges. The knowledge you get there will not only help you in securing your first job out of college but also help you in making important life decisions.