Terms, Vocabulary & Jargon

Learn the lingo of the college.

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academic concentration
Specialization in one academic discipline or field of study is called "academic concentration" at BC; also see "major."
academic year
Usually this refers to the September-June school year. In some cases it refers to the entire year.
Certification that a school or an instructional program meets standards set by an outside reviewing organization. Many forms of financial aid are available only to students attending accredited institutions.
Approval for a student to attend an educational institution. The admission process usually involves an application form and may require transcripts or other supporting documents.
A member of the college faculty or staff who assists students with planning quarter or semester schedules as well as their overall programs of study. Advisors may also help with career planning. See also counselor.
The first step in requesting admission to an institution of higher education. Usually there is a form to fill out by a certain deadline; sometimes there is an application fee to pay.
A formal agreement between high schools and colleges or between community/technical colleges and baccalaureate institutions, designed to make it easy for students to move from one educational level to the next without any gaps or repetition in their coursework.
A method of determining a student's knowledge or skill level, such as an exam, often taken to find his or her best placement or starting level in a series of courses in English, foreign languages, math, or science.
At BC, assessment also refers to determining skills and abilities as learning outcomes in the college's general education program.
associate's degree
A diploma earned after successfully completing a required program of study in a community or technical college. It typically requires 90 or more credits and takes two years of full-time study. Some associate's degrees enable students to transfer to baccalaureate colleges and universities, others prepare students to go right into the workforce in a professional/technical field.
A student who audits a course formally registers and pays for it and attends class sessions but earns no credit and has no obligation to complete homework projects or take tests.
baccalaureate or bachelor's degree
A college degree which can often be earned by following a four-year instructional program. A baccalaureate institution, sometimes informally called a "four-year college," is a college or university which is entitled to grant a baccalaureate or bachelor's degree.
basic skills
Usually refers to a level of competency-specifically in reading, writing, and mathematics-which is required for successful college-level work in all fields of study.
blue permission card
Required for enrollment between the end of open enrollment and the official count day (typically fourth and tenth instructional days of quarter). Must be obtained from instructor.
The land and buildings that a college or university uses for instruction or student services.
A comprehensive resource listing college regulations, program and course descriptions, degree and graduation requirements, transfer requirements, and other essential information.
A document granted by a college or university indicating that a student has successfully completed specified courses and requirements (compare with degree, which usually requires more time and coursework).
(1) A specific group of students meeting for specific instructional purposes. It can mean the whole series of scheduled meetings ("Dr. Owen is teaching two English Composition classes this quarter") or just one session ("we had a guest speaker in my Home Economics class today").
(2) Often means the same as course ("she's taking classes in Interior Design").
(3) A group of students who start at a school together and expect to complete their studies at the same time ("he's in the graduating class of 2003").
class schedule
(1) A publication listing detailed course and section information (days, times, room numbers, etc.) for a specific semester or quarter.
(2) The specific courses that an individual student is taking or plans to take for a given semester or quarter.
college-level study
(1) Curricula and instruction that assume the student has already mastered certain skills and abilities and has the level of commitment needed for postsecondary school work. Compare to developmental-level study.
(2) At BC, college-level courses are numbered 100 or above.
The ceremony at the end of an academic year when students receive their degrees or diplomas (compare to graduation).
In "competency-based" courses or instructional programs, students must demonstrate certain skills and abilities (instead of just earning passing grades in classes) before moving from one level to the next or earning the final certificate or degree.
Continuing Education
(1) the non-credit division of BC that specifically serves business & industry, as well as community needs
(2) see noncredit
A member of the college faculty who has special training in guidance and who assists students in academic or personal matters. See also advisor.
(1) Often means the same as class.
(2) A planned sequence of instruction in a particular topic; may include class meetings, lectures, readings, demonstrations, exercises, assignments, examinations, etc.
A unit of measure for college work. Generally speaking, one credit hour represents one hour of classroom attendance each week for one quarter.
credit load
The total credit value of the courses in which a student is currently enrolled.
(plural: curricula)
An established sequence of information to be learned, skills to be acquired, etc. in a specific course or in a complete instructional program.
Collectively, all the courses offered by a department, division or college.
An academic administrator or official at a school, college, or university, especially one with responsibility for students or faculty.
A rank conferred by a college or university and earned by a student who has successfully completed specified courses and requirements (compare with certificate, which usually requires less time and coursework).
An organizational unit within a college or university, offering courses dealing with a particular field of knowledge; for example, the English department.
developmental-level study
Instruction that helps students improve their English and math abilities and prepare for college-level study.
At BC, developmental-level courses are numbered 99 or below.
An official document issued by a college or university indicating that a student has earned a certain degree or certificate.
(1) A subject relating to a specific field of academic study.
(2) Correction or punishment for disorderly behavior on campus.
distance learning or distance education
Instruction which is not time-or-place specific; can include correspondence courses, televised or videotaped lectures, online courses (internet and e-mail), etc.
distribution requirements
Course requirements included in an instructional program to make sure that the student is well-rounded and gains some perspective outside his or her specific focus or major.
An organizational unit within a college or university consisting of two or more related departments.
To cancel registration in a course after enrolling into it. Students often add and drop courses before settling on a class schedule for a particular quarter or semester. See also withdrawal.
A course that is not required for a particular instructional program. Many programs require a certain number of elective credits.
ESL (English as a Second Language)
Usually refers to developmental-level instruction in English language skills for non-native English speakers.
(1) The process of signing up and paying for courses. See also registration.
(2) The total number of registered students attending classes in a particular instructional program or the whole school.
(1) The process and standards by which an instructor judges a student's work and assigns a grade.
(2) At BC, the process of determining that a student has met all requirements to complete a degree or certificate and is ready to graduate.


The instructors or teaching staff at a school. At BC, librarians and counselors are considered faculty members along with classroom instructors.
FERPA (Federal Education Right to Privacy Act)
Enacted by the federal government, FERPA protects students' privacy and confidentiality by placing certain restrictions on the disclosure of educational records and information.
final exam
Final exams are held the last week of each quarter for credit students. The final examination shall make up no more than 33% of your grade.
finals week
The last week in the academic quarter in which final exams are given. Normal class schedules often vary during finals week. Exam schedules are printed in the credit class schedule every quarter and also posted on the website (for example, http://www.bellevuecollege.edu/courses/exams/)for student convenience.
financial aid
Money available from various sources to help students pay college expenses. These funds come as loans and grants, or scholarships from the state or federal government or other organizations. Work-study is also a form of financial aid.
FYE (First Year Experience)
A new-student orientation designed to welcome students to BC and give them information on how to succeed in college.
FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid)
The application required for students to be considered for federal student financial aid. The FAFSA is processed free of charge and is used by most state agencies and colleges. There is an electronic form for each academic year. FAFSA forms are available on the website http://www.fafsa.ed.gov.
A student who has so far earned less than 45 quarter credits or 30 semester credits toward a baccalaureate degree program is referred to as a freshman.
GED (General Education Development)
A certificate representing the equivalent of a high-school diploma. BC administers the GED exam.
general education
At BC, a set of course requirements designed to help each graduating student achieve competence in a variety of learning outcome areas.
A formal indicator of a student's overall performance in a course, recorded on the official transcript.
grade-point average (GPA)
The GPA is computed by multiplying the number value of the grade earned in each course (generally, A=4, B=3, C=2, D=1, F=0) times the number credits for each course, then dividing the result by the total number of credits taken.
The formal completion of an instructional program or course of study. Students graduate after successfully meeting all credit and course requirements and other criteria set by the college or university (compare to commencement).
A type of financial aid that generally does not have to be paid back after the student leaves school. Grants are available through the federal government, state agencies, and educational institutions.
A temporary grade given to a student who is doing satisfactory work but is forced by illness or other emergency to miss an exam or a major assignment. The instructor and student arrange how and when the student will complete the work and have the "I" changed to a final letter grade. At BC, the student must finish the incomplete work within one academic quarter.
independent study
An arrangement that allows a student to earn college credit through individual study and research, usually planned with and supervised by a faculty member.
A supervised short-term apprenticeship or temporary job in a real-world setting closely related to a student's field of study. The student may or may not be paid but earns college credit for the work experience. See also practicum.
A student who has so far earned 90-135 quarter credits or 60-90 semester credits toward a baccalaureate degree program is referred to as a junior.
learning outcomes
What students are expected to know and to be able to do as a result of their experience at the college and, more specifically, as a result of completing their general education requirements.
A type of financial aid that must be repaid to the government agency or other lending organization when the student leaves school.
lower division
The courses students are generally expected to complete during the freshman and sophomore years of a typical baccalaureate degree program.


Specialization in one academic discipline or field of study. At BC, this is called "academic concentration" in a particular subject.
A combination of assessment of reading, writing, and mathematic skills; orientation to college programs and services; academic advising; and the programs and services which enable a student to reach his or her educational goals. Contrasted to a student who occasionally takes courses without a cohesive goal.
A student who registers into a course but neither goes to class nor officially withdraws. At BC a no-show student will receive an "F" for the class on his or her transcript.
Courses or instructional programs which do not require extensive homework or examinations and which do not offer college credit. Students frequently take noncredit courses for basic skills improvement, job training or career enhancement, or personal enrichment.
open admissions
The policy of some colleges to admit nearly all applicants, regardless of high school grades and admission test scores. It means different things at different schools. Community and technical colleges in Washington State admit anyone who is over 18 or has a high school diploma or GED.
(see FYE)
At most schools, a student will earn credit and "pass" a class with a grade of "A" through "D." A student who earns an "F" grade fails the class and earns no credit. Different schools have different standards, so a student who passes a class with a "D" may or may not be able to use that class to meet prerequisites or fulfill requirements.
The appropriate level to enter a series of courses, based on the student's skills; often used in the context of basic skills subjects such as mathematics or English composition. See also assessment.
Refers to all educational programs for students past high-school age; it includes community and technical colleges and job training programs as well as baccalaureate colleges and universities.
A course that includes job-related activities and stresses the practical application of theory in a field of study. See also internship.
A course that must be completed (often with a certain minimum grade) or a skill that must be demonstrated before a student can enroll in a more advanced course (for example, first-year French is a prerequisite for second-year French).
A course or instructional program that emphasizes job skills training for a particular field of work; often called "occupational" or "vocational" education and often contrasted with "academic" or "transfer" education.
A very general term used in many ways in a college or university:
(1) The courses that an individual student plans to take.
(2) The courses required to complete a particular degree or certificate.
(3) The courses that make up a department or the departments that make up a division within the college organization.
(4) Organized activities with a specific function.
Some schools (including BC) organize the academic year into three time main periods-Fall, Winter, and Spring Quarters-plus a shorter Summer Quarter (compare to semester).
Refers to all the information the college might keep regarding a student; it includes registration activity (enrollment, withdrawal, etc.), grades, payments, awards received, financial aid applications and award notices, and notes on disciplinary actions, as well as address, phone number, and student identification number.
red permission card
Required for enrollment after the official count day. Must be obtained from instructor with additional signed permission from the appropriate Organizational Unit Administrator, and requires payment of late fee and full tuition at time of registration.
Tuition and fees that are paid back to a student who has withdrawn from a course. At BC, the amount to be refunded depends on how many credits the student is taking and exactly when the student dropped the course(s). The refund policy and deadlines are published in each Credit Class Schedule.
To sign up or enroll in a course or courses. "Registration activity" includes enrolling, dropping/withdrawing, choosing "pass/fail" in place of letter grades, making payments, etc.
Minimum standards defined by the college mandatory for admission, program entry, or graduation. See also prerequisite; distribution requirements; general education.
For purposes of calculating a student's tuition and fees, someone who has lived in the state for a specified length of time as shown by specified types of evidence.


(1) A type of financial aid grant. Organizations may give scholarships according to academic achievement, financial need, or any other basis. Usually there is a competitive application process.
(2) A person's ability and expertise in a particular discipline of study.
A specific class with its own particular days, hours, location, and instructor. A number of sections of a certain course may be offered during a quarter, each with different days, times, locations, and instructors but presenting the same curriculum.
Some schools organize the academic year into two main periods-fall and spring Semesters-plus a shorter summer semester (compare to quarter).
A student who has so far earned 135-180 quarter credits or 90-120 semester credits toward a baccalaureate degree is referred to as a senior.
A student who has so far earned 45-90 quarter credits or 30-60 semester credits toward a baccalaureate degree program is referred to as a sophomore.
STEPP (Student Tuition Easy Pre-payment Program)
A financial management program for students to make monthly payments beginning prior to the start of the quarter and continuing through the quarter. The program is available for fall, winter, and spring quarters. The first payment for fall quarter is due August first.
An outline plan for a particular class, including textbook requirements, class meeting dates, reading assignments, examination dates, and the instructor's grading standards, etc.
A unit of time that can refer to either a quarter or a semester, depending on which system the college or university follows.
TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language)
A standardized test which assesses the English language abilities of students who are not native English-speakers.
An official record of the courses and semester or quarter credits a student has taken at a college or university, the grades and degrees or certificates earned, and any awards and honors received.
To move from one college or university to another and have the second institution recognize and accept some or all of the courses taken and credits earned at the first.
tuition and fees
Tuition is a student's basic payment towards the cost of instruction at a college or university. Most institutions also charge fees for laboratory equipment and materials, computer use, parking, and other miscellaneous costs.
A student who has not yet earned a bachelor's degree; also refers to the courses and instructional programs such a student enrolls in.
upper division
The courses students are generally expected to complete during the junior and senior years of a typical baccalaureate degree program.
wait list
A registration tool allowing students to put themselves electronically in the queue of a fully enrolled course. Students will be added to the course as openings occur until the third day of the quarter in the order that they appear on the list. Offers students a fair and consistent method of enrolling in a full class should openings occur. Students must remove themselves from the wait list if they decide not to pursue the course.
An exception from a requirement, rule, or penalty. (To waive a right or a claim is to voluntarily give it up.)
(1) If a student meets specific criteria, the college may waive some of his or her tuition and fees (that is, some of the money owed to the college will be forgiven).
(2) If a student demonstrates certain knowledge and abilities, the college may waive a course prerequisite (that is, allow the student to take the class even though he or she hasn't completed the listed requirements for it).
The process of officially dropping a class or classes after the quarter has started.
A type of financial aid which pays students to work part-time, often on campus, during the academic year.


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Bellevue College
3000 Landerholm Circle SE Bellevue, WA 98007-6484 U.S.A.
Work: (425) 564-1000