Education Glossary

Many families are sending their first generation of students to college these days and simply aren't familiar with all the terms and jargon that comes with college. These terms can sound like a foreign language but our glossary is here to help you look through all possible terms to figure out exactly what colleges and students are telling you. These terms will teach you what classes and school are all about and make college feel a little more like home. Enjoy!

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Academic Advisor - A university staff member who gives students direction by recommending majors, career paths and the classes they should take to attain those goals. Students' career and educational goals are at the heart of their advice. If need be, they can also point students in the direction of staff members and departments that can also help in their goals. They can act as a middle man between students and departmental staff.

Accredited - The standards required by a college to offer specific programs within their university programs. The schools must consistently meet these standards to continue offering these courses and may have to meet national, local and departmental standards within a subject to remain accredited.

Associate's Degree - Degree attained after high school that students can use to continue college and a 4 year degree or just to start a career where a 2 year degree is necessary. One can be an associate of science, arts, applied science, occupational studies and business administration and then apply these to the college they then attend or, if good enough, use to start a career

Asynchronous Communication - Communications between students and staff then does not have immediate feedback and can be described as indirect. Voice mail started this trend while email and message boards have continued it forward. Students learn this way on their own schedule and don't have to know the exact hours of who they are attempting to contact

Asynchronous Learning - Using asynchronous communication to help give out learning materials. There is material and deadlines given over time instead of all at once in class. Usually it's used for online classes but normal in class courses are starting to take advantage as well.

Audio Conferencing - Whether it's a phone, multiple phone lines or just internet tools such as Skype, microphones and speakers are used to give messages and even hold class. Students can see how conferencing is done in the corporate world while also giving alternatives to the usual communication.

Audit - When one just goes to a class without receiving credit. Most who do this are not students who don't need the certificate, just to know how to do something extra. Others just use it to gain more information. It's mostly just to learn something new.


Bachelor's Degree - 4 year college degree one attains immediately following secondary school and can be followed by a Master's Degree. If you want to go into a career that certain skills or certificates are needed for, you would go at least for this degree. You could attain a Bachelor of Science, Arts or Nursing. This is usually needed to go into a Master's program.

Blog-Web log - This is when you write online on a webpage about a certain topic. Professors are starting to use them in their lectures to teach about information technology or to bring different views on topics. RSS feeds can be used to send the blog posts to you or you can just check yourself to find the latest news on certain subjects.

Broadband - One of the highest speed internet connections that's usually a dedicated transfer line that allows internet access. The high speed allows more streaming, faster downloads that are also larger in size. Online students usually need this for their online classes especially if multimedia are part of the class. It replaced the slow dial up modem system of a decade ago

Browser - A computer program that allows internet access. You need one, such as Firefox, Internet Explorer, and Chrome, to view web pages. It is user friendly to make the experience easier and allow easier access to information.


Chat - When two or more people interact online. Whether it be text chatting or video talking over the internet, this function lets people send pictures and files right away over the internet. In colleges, it also allows teachers to immediately answer questions of the students with no delay. They can also answer questions from many different students at once and are available on most internet enabled devices.

Cohort - When students are put into a group that doesn't break up throughout the entirety of a class. Career and Technology colleges use them most but others do as well. Students get to know all these other students in their classes as well as the teachers and pace. Studies have shown that learning is maximized in these situations so there is certainly a benefit. Also, they've shown that while pace may stay the same, everyone can teach everyone else what they don't know since they're all on the same subject, again maximizing learning.

College Counseling Services - These people are generally nice people who make sure that students are getting acclimated to their new environments at college. These centers have small classes, individual sessions and other programs helpful to students. They are meant to show that everyone matters and isn't just a number. Stress management and coping with college issues are also taught here again for the same reasons. When students can't get acclimated or can't find a balance between study and fun, this is where they go for help

College Level Examination Program (CLEP) - CLEP gives students individual subject tests that help students get credit for a course without actually taking it. If the students have already learned the material, the test will show that and they'll receive credit. Graduation can be expedited while class sizes can also be reduced because of this so everybody wins.

College - This term described a school that is usually post-high school. It used to imply the middle ground between high school and universities but now the differences are minimal at best so the two terms have become interchangeable. At big universities, colleges can refer to specific smaller programs in certain subjects as well.

Computer Based Training (CBT) - When a student is taught through interactions with a computer instead of a teacher. Whether over the internet over DVD, it can effective for people trying to learn computer programs since the computer based program can naturally use these which allows learning by repetition, which can maximize learning. It combines instruction and application.

Concentration - This term describes a student's academic focus or just a smaller program of study within a major. It can provide specialized learning within a subject for a student that helps attain the career they choose. Engineers can receive concentrations in civil, biomedical or material for example. They're all engineers but all will have different career paths due to the special skills they learned within their concentration.

Cookies - Bits of text sent from the server to the web browser and then returned to the server again. They are used to authenticate users and what they go to on the internet. Preferences are sent between the user and the server to authenticate. Colleges use these to allow students to log into their accounts and classes online. They allow them to make sure it's really the student logging in.

Correspondence Learning - This is a kind of distance learning but not through online classes. Usually it's done through postal mail. Work and assignments are mailed to the student and all communication's done over mail, phone or email. It's basically distance learning without the internet class structure involved.

Course Management System - CMS-This software allows schools to start distance learning programs. This software is centralized; it all comes from one central source. From this source, it's sent out to a number of locales. Since it's all centralized, staff is more easily able to send it around give out their coursework. Students can more easily work with their teachers through online classes with this software because of the easy distribution. All the message boards, chat, grades, email and resources will all be in one central location.


DHTML - dynamic HTML-This kind of script is used to make animated sites. Normal HTML is combined with more "dynamic" kinds like Java and Flash to create more flashy effects. Users can interact more easily with the site. It also allows students to do more tasks for their online classes while also giving them all the news and info needed to complete their classes

Diploma Mill - This is a non-accredited school that just is there to give out degrees. They give out degrees for a low cost without the normal amount of class or work required. While many students just use these to say they have graduated from a college, employers see them as unseemly simply for the reason that you would actually go to one of these places just for a degree. Watch out because it isn't worth it.

Distance Learning - This is when the student and teacher are separated while the student is taking a class. They can be a world apart but still communicate. There are a great number of kinds of this with online classes being the most popular followed by correspondence, learning through TV broadcasts and stuff stored on DVDs. There is no classroom involved; one just learns from wherever their computer is. Tests and lectures occur outside a classroom.

Doctoral Degree-PhD - The highest degree following a master's degree. One must have a high amount of information and ability in their field to get into a doctoral program while also doing research in their field. Science, education and fine arts are just a few of the doctoral categories. They have enough information through their research that they've attained a professor's ability and can pass their concentration they picked. While some programs allow the direct jump from bachelor's to PhD, nearly all of these programs need a master's degree to be accepted.


Excelsior College Examinations - ECE- Formerly called the Regents College Exams, these give credit for passing them. Some are essay based while others involve multiple choice but the goal is always just credit for these exams. They examine someone's ability in subjects taught at the school and also their ability to apply these concepts in the real world and in ways intended in the class. If so, they can attain credit for the class.

E-Learning - This is any kind of computer assisted learning. It can happen in online learning, digital video, and all other kinds of online ways. This is used mainly in distance learning but also other kinds where it's blended in with traditional classes. It can be synchronous, asynchronous, instruction oriented or just computer based. Like distance learning, flexibility is the key here as students learn at their pace and is built around their schedule. For normal classes, students who need more help or just need more practice can now do it outside of class through E-Learning. Studying on your own has never been so easy.

Enrollment Advisor - This is a college employee whose job it is to help students through registration. When students are intending on attending, this person will contact said student and discuss what this person wants to do at the school. They want to make sure the student and school are good fit and don't want to mislead the student in a bad decision for them. Their job is to try to get the right students to enroll, a very important job.

Externship - These are experience gaining and learning chances outside of the classroom. The students are supervised in an off campus location. In programs that have specific career paths, these credits are normally available for students. Students can use this to network and gain experience through their school.


Field of Study - This is the general are in which a student is doing their coursework in. It is similar to a concentration as engineers would pick a certain kind to go into and a business major may pick finance. However, this is more broad and gives more different opportunities

First Professional Degree - FPD-This is given out after two years of college level education are completed as well as a professional study program. These are usually seen in legal and medical fields. Dentistry and Optometry are also very common for the FPD to be seen as well as pharmacy, animal science and chiropractic as well as the outlier, theology.

Form - This type of webpage element allows someone to enter information. These allow the transfer of information between teachers and students for online classes. Online tests are the chief example of this kind of usage but job applications and online chats are also a central part of the form.

Free Application for Federal Student Aid - FAFSA - This is a federal financial aid form that must be filled out every year for the student to receive federal financial aid. It determines  eligibility based on financial need of that student's family situation. You can earn scholarships, grants, as well as federal loans through this program that is the central financial aid source for many students. You can also get local awards through this and sometimes awards through your college, but that is rarer.


Graduate Student - This is a student who has already received their bachelor's or FPD and are either trying to attain their master's or PhD. There are also grad students who are going for educational degrees or certificates for their jobs. Students need to take the GREs, get recommendations and write a personal statement to apply to become a graduate student.

Graduate Studies - This is the coursework that students perform once they enter the world of the graduate student. This hopefully will end up with the student receiving their master', FPD or PhD.

Graduate Record Examination
(GRE) - This is a standardized test, similar to the SAT, to gain admission to graduate school. There is a verbal, quantitative, writing and critical thinking section on the test. The whole thing is then graded electronically to prevent any errors. Also, there are GRE subject tests similar to the SAT II's. You can test your skills in your given field whether it be biology, literature or physics. There's a subject test for most concentrations. This is a very important part of the grad school admission process


Hope Scholarship - Created in 1993, the Hope Scholarship, it is given out for Helping  Outstanding Pupils Educationally. This scholarship pays for full tuition, books and fees. It's a full ride through college. The student must be a resident of the state it's given out in while also having had a B average through high school and must maintain a 3.0 in college. The scholarship is attained by enrolling in some sort of degree program, whether it be part or full time.

HTML - Hyper Text Markup Language - This is the scripting language used to create webpages. This code describes the layout of the page and images on the screen. This is a very important part of online classes since without it, there would be no interface or page to conduct online learning over. Exams, syllabi and notes could not be passed over the internet without HTML, making it an integral part of online learning.

HTTP - Hyper Text Transfer Protocol-This protocol is used by servers and browsers to send data such as video and text back and forth between each other. This is used to see what the sites look like and send it between people. Without HTTP, students would not be able to use online resources such as notes and video. Without it, there would no practical or useful way to maximize learning over the internet. Online readings and syllabi couldn't be interactive without it.


Instant Messenger - IM-This is a real time text communicator between any number of people. People can talk to each other by sending messages of text between each other with little delay in between. It's like having a real conversation over the internet. They are normally free from AOL and Google and are very popular among the college crowd. They can now also use voice chat, such as Skype, as well as downloads and videos being sent back and forth. Students and instructors can easily talk to each other over IM if one or the other can't meet during office hours or class. The teacher can give out pertinent information to all the students chatting, showing an immediate benefit. They also allow the teacher to communicate with any number of students at once.

Internet Service Provider (ISP) - This Company gives its customers access to the internet. Usually they charge some of fee for usage, though some free ISPs do in fact exist. With this monthly fee, customers are given an email address, customization, port forwarding and more. NetZero and America Online are popular, though not as much as they used to be. You can't access the world wide web without an ISP so every student needs one, especially to register for courses, do online coursework and communicate with their teachers.

Internship - This is a working experience that is geared toward education and real world applications. Many students get their foot in the door for companies and contacts using this experience, whether it be paid or unpaid. Most are part time though during the summer, when the student has more free time, full time positions are readily available. Networking through these companies often enables students to obtain jobs after graduation




Lifetime Learning Tax Credit - Students are eligible for this following their first two successful completed undergraduate years, grad years or just 2 years working in career education. You receive a 20% tax credit for the first $5,000 of tuition and fees and for the first $10,000 after that. It applies on an individual basis and its requirements are similar to that of the HOPE Scholarship, which emphasizes financial need


Master's Degree - This is an advanced degree received when you complete your study in your field of graduate education. While the time it takes to receive can vary from one to three years, there are part time courses that one can receive this honor through. They definitely take longer but may be worth it if you want to build your schedule around it. Those whose focus is in science receive a master's of science while liberal arts majors receive the master's of arts. Research is more heavily emphasized in this coursework though there are normal courses as well. Degrees are more focused in one concentration, with few requirements outside of that. You can get your masters in education, business, social work, public administration and fine arts though one for law exists as well but isn't as common.

M-Learning (Mobile Learning)-This is the most recent transformation in education as PDAs have become more popular, allowing for learning on the go. Making books irrelevant, this allows you to study in the car or on a university bus. Things have never been easier. You can get your notes or work sent directly to your mobile device. It's sometimes used with a normal classroom course though online classes have more easily taken advantage of this technology. It's new so few have caught on but the potential of it is vast.


Netiquette - This term, which is a combo of network and etiquette, refers to how you should act while on the internet. Whether it be on forums, chats, IM or online classes, there are rules for writing. The most common one is to not use all capital letters as it implies being mad at someone. Also, using "u" instead of "you" or "brb" instead of be right back are looked down upon by professionals. When communicating with others, it is obviously best to look professional, so you shouldn't use this kind of speak online.

Non-Traditional Student - This can be an adult student, learner or returner or pretty much anyone who isn't part of the normal full time experience of college or those who took time off in between classes. They may take years to enroll in college or just financially independent. The best way to describe them is to just call them not the same as the average college student.


Online Learning - This is a relatively new form of distance learning on the internet. This refers to classes that are conducted online. The materials and notes are online for students, who make their own schedules for these kinds of classes. Email and chats become vital parts as the whole thing is conducted on a site over the internet.


Prior Learning Assessment (PLA) - This is when it is acknowledged that what you have learned in your life can in fact make up for a class. Many call this work credit as they don't have to take a class simply because they lived it. It makes life easier for returning students who can use their knowledge in class to their advantage. How much PLA credit you receive is determined by academic advisors or admissions reps, so check with them before choosing your school or program.

Private Institution - These are schools that are not controlled by any kind of government. Much of their income is through alumni donations or just good old fashioned fundraising. They can receive a small amount of federal funding but much more of the money comes from private sources and therefore aren't controlled by the government.

Public Institution - These are controlled by public organizations or officials who are appointed to the position. Unlike private schools, they get their money from taxes and the government. However, the government holds them accountable and makes them listen to governmental policies since they fund them.




School Housing Assistance  -Many schools have advisors to help students and staff find places to live as close to campus as possible. Commuting is not encouraged as it can be hard to reach the campus sometimes, so these people help find living arrangements. Not all schools have any kind of on-campus housing but there's usually some place to live close by, whether it be in a city or on the side streets. They can help find roommates and financial aid in addition to apartment listings.

Section 508 - This is a section of the 1998 Rehabilitation Act that requires electronic and info developed after June 2001 to be able to be given to people with disabilities. All kinds of software and internet as well as normal electronics must be made so that disabled people have sort of capacity to use them without much trouble.

Streaming Video - This is when you can watch a video as it is downloading. It is not saved on the computer, just watched by the user. This can allow professors to stream their lectures so their students can watch and have class participation. It also has its benefits in chats, IMs, youtube, as well as research studies.

Survey - A survey course is a vast program that uses information that will lay the foundation for college as its coursework. These are generally required in addition to major classes simply to expose students to more ideas and subjects than they would normally get.

Syllabus - This is a document that serves as an introduction to a course. It gives out the topics in the class as well as what kinds of materials will be needed for the course. They can help students become familiar with a subject and also help you realize how a professor teaches a class. They are also vital because they give due dates of exams and papers.

Synchronous Learning - This kind of learning uses real time talking in e-learning. IMs are an important part of this as well as virtual classrooms and chats. Students and instructors can talk to each other live as opposed to waiting for responses over email or voice mail. There is instant feedback, as in a normal classroom.


Terminal Degree - This is generally the highest degree you can receive in a field. Some consider the doctorate the highest while others wants specialization, such as in dentistry. There are many of these including, the PhD, MD (medical doctor), DDS (dental), and JD (lawyer).

Threaded Discussion - This can be described as messages or forum posts all about the same thing threaded together. In online learning, when a teacher poses a question, this form of discussion allows students to respond to that question while also seeing everyone else's answers, reenacting a normal classroom discussion. This makes online learning seem a little more mainstream.


Undergraduate Student - This kind of student has graduated from high school and is striving to achieve a bachelor's degree. As an undergrad, you can also receive certificates in specialization, associate's degrees and eventually, the overall goal, a bachelor's degree.

University - This is an institution of higher education that offers undergraduate and graduate programs. All universities must have at least one master's program or they lose the title. Department heads are employed and serve under a board of governors and president of the university. A good chunk of research is done through universities and its instructors teach a good amount of the higher education available.


Video Conferencing - Video Conferencing is when any number of people communicates over the internet with voice as well as picture. Online education uses it to its fullest by performing lectures and Q&A sessions using this form of communication.

Virtual - An online representation of reality-Distance learning uses this technique to have "virtual" classrooms. Nobody has to physically attend the class, just log in and you're there. They get the same education without all the hassle of going to class. This innovation allows students to attend class based on their own schedule, not the school's. People who cannot physically attend classes, such as foreign students, take advantage of virtual classrooms to have a normal classroom experience without the hassle.


Web-Based Training (WBT) - Workers are trained through this system that may or may not have a physical teacher or class. Corporations use it to educate their employees online, on their own time while schools use it simply because it's more interactive than normal classes.

White Board - This forum display program shares images and videos in a similar fashion to a chalkboard in a normal classroom. What appears on the white board in online classes is similar to what you would  see on the board in a physical classroom