Academic Terminology

Higher education often presents students with a baffling set of new words. Some terms you might hear for the first time are these:

Audit -A student may choose to register for a class, attend that class, but receive no academic credit. Full tuition and fees are paid.
Bulletin - (sometimes called "the catalogue") Official publication of USA in which the university calendar, academic policies, course descriptions, degree requirements, admission requirements, and other pertinent information are listed.
CLEP- An acronym for College Level Examination Program. Passing a CLEP test may allow you to earn college credit for skills and knowledge you already possess.
Credit hour - the unit of measure for education credit based on one hour of credit for every 10 hours of class time per term.
Directed Study - a variable credit course in which a student, under the direction of a faculty member, works independently on a subject of particular interest to the student.
Dual enrollment - with approval granted before registration, a USA student may take a course at USA and a course at another institution (such as Faulkner State Community College) during the same term. See your academic advisor for details.
Elective - a course the student chooses in addition to completing the general education requirement or major/department requirements.
Full-time enrollment - An undergraduate student taking at least 12 credit hours is enrolled full time; less than 12 credit hours is part-time enrollment.
GPA (Grade Point Average) - An acronym for grade point average, a snapshot of your overall academic performance. In most schools, an A equals four points, a B is three points, a C is two points, a D is one point, and an F equals no points.
GPB (Grade Point Balance) - shows the relationship between the cumulative number of grade points earned and the total number of credit hours attempted. The calculation is: GPB cumulative grade points earned minus (2 x total hours attempted). See Bulletin for details.
Graduation Application - Students planning to graduate must make application through the Registrar's office two terms before the expected date of graduation. Check the calendar in the front pages of the Bulletin for deadlines.
Lower division courses - courses that are numbered at the 100 or 200 level.
Major - A related group of courses that reflects the dominant focus of your higher education. Academic majors often form the basis for later career choices or programs in graduate school.
Matriculated - A term describing a student who has been accepted for a degree program and has begun taking classes for that program.
Minor - A group of courses often related to but different from a student's major field of study. Not all schools require a minor, even if they require students to choose a major.
Practicum - A course or program that covers a specialized topic in depth. In some cases, this word refers to work-study arrangements that earn college credit.
Prerequisite - A preparatory course that students are usually required to complete before they can register for another course.
Probation - A formal notice that a student's grade point average or conduct is not acceptable to the school's administration. Probation usually amounts to a warning-and a request that students raise their academic performance. Students who fail to do so may eventually be suspended or dismissed from school.
Quarter - A term that describes a common length of courses offered by a school. Quarters usually last about 10 weeks. In these schools, courses are offered four times a year, including summer session.
Readmission - Students whose attendance at USA has been interrupted by at least one term (excluding summer) must apply for readmission through the Admissions office.
Residency requirement - A candidate for graduation from USA must complete at least 32 credit hours of upper division course work (300 or 400 level) as a student at USA.
Semester - Another term for a school's typical course length. Semesters often last about 14 weeks.
Syllabus- A document students usually receive on the first day of a class, offering an overview of the course. Often included in a syllabus is an outline of topics, assignments, grading requirements, and related course details.
Transcript - the students' official academic record. It includes courses taken, grades, credit awarded, graduation date, area of concentration, and other pertinent information. Transcripts are maintained in the Registrar's office and will be released only with the student's written permission. When applying for admission to a new institution, the student must have official transcripts submitted from each institution previously attended.
Transient student - a student taking courses at an institution other than USA. Permission must be granted before registration. See your academic advisor for details. Failure to secure prior permission may result in the course not counting toward the student's degree.
Upper division courses - courses that are numbered at the 300 or 400 level.
Undergraduate degree - baccalaureate or bachelor's degree. Depending on the course of study, a student earns a bachelor of arts or bachelor of science degree. At USA, the degree requires a minimum of 128 semester hours.
Withdrawal - A student may withdraw from a class and receive a proportionate refund. (See calendar in Bulletin) When a student withdraws, "WD" is shown on the transcript. If a student stops attending class without officially withdrawing, a failing grade shows on the transcript.

These are just a few examples. Many more such terms are explained in a book that's usually free for the taking-the Bulletin.