Know your ABCs: Post-Secondary Terminology 101

Emily Educator by Emily Educator October 30, 2018

As you enter the world of higher education, you’ll encounter new terminology. Here’s a brief list of some commonly used terms, as provided by some of TNT’s graduates. Thanks, guys!

Academic drop date: Refers to the last day of classes before one can drop a class and not be penalized for it.

Academic probation: Occurs when students’ marks are not high enough. Restrictions are placed on the student until their marks improve.

Academic transcript: A document prepared by the registrar’s office that records a student’s entire official academic history, including courses taken and grades received.

Academic year: Sessions of which the school year is divided up. There are fall sessions (September to December) and winter sessions (January to April). There are also summer sessions, although not as many students take courses during these times.

Admissions application: An official application must be completed to get accepted to university. The application process is the first step to becoming a student.

Alumni: Graduates of the university.

Bachelor degree: Also known as an undergraduate degree, they usually take three or four years to complete.

Bursary: A monetary grant based on financial need.

Calendar: The university publication which details university regulations, programs, courses and course descriptions.

Convocation: An official ceremony held to confer degrees.

Criteria: The rules and guidelines needed to be met to be considered for a scholarship, bursary or entrance to university.

Dean: The administrative head of a faculty, such as the faculty of arts or the faculty of commerce.

Degree: Official recognition for completion of an approved program of study, such as a bachelor of science or a bachelor of arts.

Distance education: A form of education where classes aren’t taken in the classroom, but by other forms, such as online or through the mail.

Elective: A course that counts towards a degree, but is not required as part of the degree program.

Eligibility: Whether one meets all the required qualifications and criteria needed to be considered for a scholarship, bursary or entrance to university.

Freshman 15: A term referring to the weight first year students often gain during their first year.

Frosh: The opening week celebrations which kick off the school year.

Graduate degree (often used interchangeably with a master’s degree): Advanced academic program focusing on a particular subject or area of study. Graduate programs generally involve one to three years of study and require the successful completion of an undergraduate degree (or its equivalent) to gain admission.

Major: A formally recognized area of concentration within a student’s program for which they must complete specific courses.

Midterm: An exam happening halfway through the completion of a course.

Minor subject: A secondary area of concentration for a degree.

Office hours: These are the times professors make available for one-on-one contact with students in their offices.

Plagiarism: The unauthorized use or close imitation of the language and thoughts of another author and the representation of them as one’s own original work. (Source: Universities are very strict about plagiarism.

Preparatory Courses: These courses are particularly appropriate for providing the academic background needed to succeed in a degree program at a college or university.

Prerequisite: A course that must be completed before registering in an advanced level course in the same or related discipline.

RA: Residence assistants (RA). RAs are employed to help students with campus living.

Scholarship: An award based on academic performance.

Transfer credit: Previous credits from other academic institutions can sometimes be transferred to one’s current institution and the program they are taking.

Tuition: The fees paid for enrolment in courses.

U-Pass: A transit pass students receive as a result of paying a mandatory fee.

Undeclared: Student who haven’t declared a major are considered undeclared.

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