Glossary

There are many new terms and ideas when it comes to U.S. education, and a big part of our job is educating parents.
Below you will find brief explanations and linked blog articles.

ACT
One of the two main university entrance exams for universities in the US.
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Advisor
A professional who helps students with their secondary school courses and university goals.
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AP (Advanced Placement)
A university-level secondary school curriculum.
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Associate’s degree
A two-year degree.
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Bachelor’s degree
A four-year degree.
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Certification of Finances
A form detailing the financial situation of international students and their families, which they must submit to US universities as part of the application.
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Counselor
Similar to an advisor. A professional who helps students with their secondary school courses, extracurricular activities, and university goals.
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College
A colloquial term for “university” in the US. It can also refer to a part of a university (e.g. the business college).
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Common Application
A shared application that more than 200 universities use in the US.
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Course
In the US, an individual lecture or class. In the UK, a degree program.
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Credit
A unit of merit that counts toward degree requirements.
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Doctorate degree (PhD)
The highest degree awarded in graduate education.
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Early applications
Early action and early decision programs in the US. They allow students to apply early, and/or enter a contract with their first-choice schools.
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Extracurricular activities
Activities students need to do outside of normal classes to build their resume and gain valuable skills.
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FERPA
A US law that protects student academic information. Often mentioned on university and visa applications.
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Foundation year
An option for students who want to study in the UK, but need more time to meet entrance requirements.
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GPA (Grade Point Average)
The accumulated value of a student’s final grades, expressed a number, usually 4.0 or lower, in the US.
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Grade report
A report of a student’s grades, which may be requested at any time. Not valid for application purposes.
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Graduate school
Any schooling that occurs at the masters’ degree level or above.
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High school
Synonym for secondary school.
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IB (International Baccalaureate)
A college preparatory curriculum that involves intensive language study, project design, and research.
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Junior college
Synonym for two-year college or community college.
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Letter of Recommendation
A letter submitted to universities for the purpose of recommending students for admission. Required by all US universities.
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Liberal arts college
A small university focused on an expansive arts and sciences curriculum.
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Major
The US term for a degree subject. See also: “course” (UK).
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Master’s degree
A degree that may be earned either after, or with, a bachelor’s degree. Traditionally, a master’s degree programs last 1-2 years.
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Minor
(US) A secondary subject that requires a lighter course load than a major to earn. Appears on the student’s degree.
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Personal essay
An essay about a student’s academics, experiences, and interests. Required for admission to most US universities.
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Polytechnic
(UK) A technical college.
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Regular Decision
The deadline for all applications to a US university.
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Restrictive Early Action
A type of Early Action used by many competitive universities that only allows students to apply to one university using Early Action. Georgetown University has used this option for years. Harvard, Stanford, Yale, the University of Notre Dame, and Boston College are some of the other universities that have used Restrictive Early Action in recent years.
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Résumé
A record of a student’s skills, extracurricular activities and internships. Usually built throughout their high school career.
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Rolling Admission
An admissions procedure in the US. Any university that uses rolling admission accepts application almost year-round.
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SAT
One of the two main university entrance exams for universities in the US.
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SAT Subject Test
A special exam that focuses on only one subject. Recommended by several competitive universities.
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Secondary School
The last three to five years of schooling before university.
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Standardized exam
Often used as a synonym for entrance exam in the US.
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Strong Interest Inventory
A test that many Occam students take to help them learn their strengths and career interests.
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Transcript
The official report of a student’s final grades, used for university admissions.
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Two-year college / community college
An institution that serves two potential functions: preparing students for four-year universities, or awarding associate’s degrees.
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UCAS
The application for universities in the UK.
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Undergraduate
Refers to a student who is working on a bachelor’s degree.
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University
A higher education institution that awards bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees.
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Visa
A document required for students to enter the US and UK for study.
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Waitlist
A list of students who will be offered admission to a competitive school if a slot becomes available.
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