Here’s a quick guide to some of the most common abbreviations and terms you may encounter as you begin your college search process. If you have questions or need more information, just send us an email.

ACT – American College Testing Program Assessment – A 5-part test, scored from 0 to 36.  The sections include English, Math, Science, Reading and Writing. The scores are averaged to determine the Composite Score. Writing is optional.

AP – Advanced Placement – College level courses given in high school in specific subject areas approved by the College Board. Tests of proficiency in the subject are given each spring. The results can be used to determine placement at college and at some colleges, high scores may earn actual college credit. Scores range from 1 to 5. You do not need to take an AP course to take an AP test.

CEEB – An identification number given by the College Board to every high school and college in the United States. This number is requested on application forms. Check with the guidance office to find the high school’s CEEB or online to find each college.

Class Rank – A student’s standing in the class based on a Cumulative Grade Point Average (GPA). Some schools use percentiles (e.g., top 10%, top 50%); others use rank order (e.g., 110th out of 293) other high schools have chosen not to rank. Some schools weight grades giving extra credit for Honors and AP classes in determining rank.

College Board – An independent not-for-profit organization which oversees SAT, AP, CLEP testing and the Financial Aid Profile application (www.collegeboard.com).

College Fair – A regional or local event where representatives from college admissions offices are present to hand out information, answer questions, and market their schools. The large NACAC (National Association for College Admission Counseling) fairs are in the spring and fall.

CO-OP Program – A college program that integrates work experience (usually in your field of study) with classroom study (sometimes in alternating seminars). Northeastern University is the most famous.

Deferred Entrance – An admissions plan that allows an accepted student to postpone entrance for one or more years. Plans vary for each school.

Early Action – An admissions plan that requires applications be submitted ahead of the normal deadline in order to receive the college’s decision in advance of regular applicants. If admitted on this plan, it is NOT necessary to reply until May 1. In some cases applications can be sent to multiple EA colleges. Other schools have special restrictions for applicants (Single –Choice Option).

Early Decision – An admissions plan that requires the student to apply before the normal deadline in order to receive the college’s decision within a short time. Acceptance on this plan is a binding contract to enroll at the college. All other applications must be withdrawn. This is a legally binding contract. Some colleges have Early Decision I and Early Decision II plans. Note there are special rules pertaining to applying to a few colleges (for example, Single-Choice Option).

EFC – Expected Family Contribution. The amount the student and parents will be expected to pay for college based on family income and assets. EFC calculators can be found at www.finaid.com or www.collegeboard.com.

FAFSA – Free Application for Federal Student Aid – The US Department of Education form required to apply for all federal financial aid, and many state, private and institutional funds. Forms are available to be filed out starting in the fall of 2016 for entrance to the class of 2017. They use sophomore and junior year data to compile the EFC. The preferred way to apply or the FAFSA is online at http://www.fafsa.ed.gov. You must file a new or renewal form each year. And you must file separate forms for each student in college.

Financial Aid Package – The combination of financial aid that a college awards to a student: generally, a combination of federal and state grants, institution scholarships, student loans and/or work study jobs.

GPA – Grade Point Average. The accumulated academic average based on grades and credits, often figured on an A = 4.0 scale. Most colleges reconfigure GPA with their own scale usually based on 4.0 and only counting major subjects. Some include additional points for Honors and AP courses. Some High Schools have weighted and un-weighted GPAs.

Grant – An award of money from federal or state government that does not need to be paid back. All grants are based on need.

Group Interview or Information Session – An information session during which an admissions officer will give a group of prospective students general information about the college. Students and parents ask questions about the school. Sometimes there is a student panel.

Loans – Money that is borrowed from federal or state governments, colleges, banks or agencies that specialize in making student loans. Some loans are need-based; others are not. Federal government loans include Federal Perkins Loans, subsidized and unsubsidized Federal Stafford Loans and Federal Direct Stafford Loans, Federal PLUS loans and Federal Direct PLUS Loans.

National Merit Scholarship – Financial awards given to students based in part on their PSAT/NMSQT scores.

Personal Interview – A one-on-one interview with an admissions officer, college representative, student, or alumni. You will be provided information about the college as well as be given an opportunity to ask questions. At some competitive colleges, this meeting is part of the selection process.

PROFILE Form – A supplemental financial aid application form from the College Board that is used by some public and many private colleges. Register online at www.collegeboard.com .

PSAT/NMSQT – Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test usually given in sophomore and junior year.

Recommendations – Letters about a student written by teachers, counselors, coaches, employers, etc. and submitted to colleges. Choose people who know you very well and who will submit a positive, well-written letter.

Rolling Admissions – An admissions plan that accepts and acts upon applications throughout the year. Decisions are often made as soon as the admissions folder is complete.

ROTC – Reserve Officer Training Corps. A highly competitive scholarship and training program offered by the US Army, Navy and Air Force at some colleges and universities (participation requires a commitment to active or reserve duty after graduation).

SAR – Student Aid Report. The US Department of Education report on your Expected Family Contribution to college costs. The SAR is issued in response to your Free Application for Federal Student Aid after a standard federal formula determines how much a student and parent(s) can be expected to contribute to a year of education costs.

SAT – A two-part standardized test given by the College Board. It includes Critical Reading and Math. Writing is now an optional section. Scores range from 200-800 each. A new SAT launched in March 2016. See Collegeboard.com.

SAT II or Subject Tests – A test measuring competence in a specific area (Science, Math, History, Literature, Languages) based on 800.

Scholarships – An award of money that does not need to be repaid by a student. Scholarships may be based on financial need, academic merit, a student’s talent or achievement in a special area, or affiliation with a specific ethnic, religions or professional group.

TOEFL – Test of English as a Foreign Language. Used if English is not the first language spoken by the applicant.

Wait List – A reserve list used by colleges when students meet the requirements for admission, but there is not enough room in a class. A college does select students from this list if room becomes available.



Getting to Know Yourself

As a student, it is important to trust yourself and your instincts when choosing a college. Those instincts work best when you have a clear understanding of your individual needs and goals. The first step in that direction is self-evaluation.