College Lingo: What to Know Before You Go

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UH?! WHAT?! That just might be your reaction the first time you set foot on a college campus if you don’t understand all of the “College Lingo” that comes with being a college student. By knowing the lingo before you go, your overall college experience will be a lot more enjoyable and won’t leave you scratching your head in frustration.

Nikki Donahue, student success academic advisor at West Virginia Northern Community College, has put together a New Student Glossary of Terms that should be helpful.

Academic Advisor: a professional educator assigned to give academic advice and general guidance regarding academic success.

Add/Drop Week: a week at the beginning of each semester when a student can make changes to his/her course schedule.

Adjunct: an instructor who is not a full-time member of the faculty.

Catalog: a book published by a college that includes the college’s policies and procedures, programs of study, courses with descriptions, and faculty. The WVNCC catalog can be found online at the college website.

Certificate: a document that proves that a person has completed an education course or program of courses—certificates at WVNCC are typically 1 year programs.

Core Classes: a set of courses that are considered essential for future class and career work and are required for graduation—at WVNCC the core classes differ by program.

Corequisite: a course that needs to be taken prior to or at the same time as another course, usually because the information taught in the listed corequisite will be needed in both courses. WVNCC Corequisite requirements can be found in the catalog under each course description.

Credits/Credit Hour: number of hours for which a student is given credit for completing a course and is  associated with the number of hours per week that the course is scheduled.

Degree Evaluation: a comprehensive list of all the courses a student needs to successfully complete to graduate from a program along with an indication of which of those courses have been completed and which are still left to complete.

Developmental courses: courses at a college that help to prepare students for college-level courses—review material that a student needs to know to successfully complete most college-level courses.  WVNCC requires that students test-out of or take 5 developmental courses: ENG90, READ95, MATH86/92/93. Students using financial aid can take up to 30 credits of developmental courses; thereafter, the courses must be paid for by the student.

Faculty Advisor: a teacher at a college who also is an advisor to students—at WVNCC students will either start their first year with a faculty advisor in their major or be assigned a faculty advisor after the first year.

Financial Aid: money to help pay for education—any grant or scholarship, loan, or other monetary help offered to help a student meet his/her college expenses.

GPA/Grade Point Average: a measure of academic achievement calculated by dividing the total number of grade points received by the total number attempted.

Major: primary area of concentration of studies requiring completion of a combination of determined classes—also referred to as “program.”

Normal Grading Mode: students will receive college-credit for A, B, C, D, or F.

Pass/No Credit/Repeat Mode: students in this course will not receive college credit for this course—students will either pass the course with a grade of “70” or above or receive a grade of “R” and be required to repeat the course.

Peer Mentor: an experienced student who provides information, advice, and support to a less experienced student.

Pre-Requisite: a course that must be completed before another course can be taken.

SAP (Satisfactory Academic Progress): all financial aid students must maintain an overall GPA of 2.00 or above at all times. Students also must maintain a pace with a successful completion rate of 67% of attempted hours. Example: if you have a total of 12 credits on your schedule at the beginning of the semester, you then must successfully complete at least 8.5 credits to maintain a 67% completion rate.

SAP 150%: a student who is using financial aid only will receive financial aid for credits up to 150% of those needed for the type of program.

Student Portal: online link to several different student services and tools including N.O.W, Blackboard, student email, GradesFirst—can be found by clicking “Student Portal” on the home WVNCC website:

Syllabus: a summary document prepared by the instructor that states basic information about plans for a particular course in a particular enrollment period—can include such things as textbook lists, expectations or rules, office hours, test dates, required assignments, learning objectives, etc.

Tuition: amount of money charged for each course in which the student enrolls based on total number of credit hours. Current tuition rate is listed on the WVNCC website.

Tutoring: extra attention given by a source outside of the classroom to help a student better understand information or a process. Tutoring at WVNCC is free and available for most classes.

Transcript: a formal record of all classes attempted by a student noting the grade and credits earned for each class. Transcripts also will indicate the student’s major or study, enrollment dates, and graduation. An unofficial transcript can be found in the N.O.W. section of the Student Portal under Student Records—you can request an official copy of a transcript through the WVNCC website or by completing a form at the student services center at each campus. The first official transcript is free, but additional transcripts are $5 each.

Transfer: to transfer credits means that another institution will accept those credits earned into their program. Sometime the credits will transfer for a required course; however, transferring credits does not always mean the replacement of credits required at that institution and can sometimes end in a surplus of credits.

Transfer Program: a program of study that is specifically designed to transfer to a university or college as the first part of a bachelor’s degree.

Withdraw: the procedure for removing yourself from a class by officially dropping the class through N.O.W. The withdrawn course will appear on your transcript with a grade of “W” but does not impact the student’s GPA. Be sure to see your advisor and the financial aid office before withdrawing from a course.

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