College Terminology 1: High School Related

As I start writing more blogs for your information, I realize that some of the terminology might be a bit foreign to you. If you have ever done a college visit, your head begins to spin with what they are saying. I have compiled a great list of college terminology that will help you through the entire process, whether you are thinking of the a 2- or 4-year school.

IMAGE CREDIT:  dantesz


Since the list is quite extensive I am going to break it down into easier sections for each part of the process.

  1. High School Related
  2. Post-secondary Institutions & Programs
  3. Admission Process
  4. Financial Aid & Scholarships
  5. On-Campus Terms

Feel free to add more in the comments section if you come across a term I should include! 

Advanced Placement (AP)

AP courses are college-level classes taught in high school, following guidelines and covering material that should prepare them to take Advanced Placement tests offered by The College Board. AP courses have a final AP exam that students need to take. College credit is dependent on the score of the exam and the university they are attending.

Advanced Standing Credit

Credit for previously completed college-level work or demonstrated knowledge of a subject granted by taking advanced standing exams, such as Advanced Placement (AP) or International Baccalaureate (IB) exams, and other similar programs.

 College Level Examination Program (CLEP)

The CLEP is a set of tests that can be administered to students who desire to obtain college credit by taking proficiency tests in selected courses. If the student scores high enough on the test, college credit can be awarded. There is a charge for each test taken. Information concerning an individual institution’s policies toward CLEP Tests can be found in the institution’s catalog.

Dual Enrollment

A process allowing high school students to take college-level courses that can be transferred to a college or university for credit. It may also be called Concurrent Enrollment. The credits may be available both for college and high school credits. There are different requirements to take dual-enrollment, such as a specific grade point average or standardized test scores.

Early College High School

Early College is a high school program that combines the high school curriculum with the first two years of college. When a student finishes the early college high school, he or she has a high school diploma and possibly an associate’s degree or two year’s equivalent of college credit to transfer to a four-year college. This approach especially targets students who will be first in their family to attend college, and/or of lower income means, as it makes earning college credits more affordable and more accessible.

GPA (Grade Point Average)

Quantitative measure of a student's grades. The GPA is figured by averaging the numerical value of a student's grades. It is cumulative, starting freshman year: grades count every year. A poor GPA in ninth grade can drag down the overall average, despite, for example, good grades junior year. Some schools “weight” their GPA’s by adding points to more rigorous courses like honors and college-level courses. 

High School Graduation Requirements

High school graduation requirements are the classes (or units) needed to receive a high school diploma. Every state has different requirements so it is important you are not missing any requirements or you are not able to receive a standardized diploma. 

International Baccalaureate (IB)

The International Baccalaureate program provides participating high schools a challenging academic course load and additional learning projects. The IB program lasts two years and requires students to

  • study six subjects chosen from the six subject groups:
    • language acquisition
    • experimental sciences
    • language and literature
    • individuals and societies
    • mathematics and computer sciences
    • the arts
  • complete an extended essay
  • take a theory of knowledge course
  • participate in "creativity, action, service"

National Honor Society

National Honor Society is an organization at participating high schools that recognizes students for academics, service, leadership and character. Each Honor Society chapter establishes rules for membership that are based upon a student's outstanding performance in the areas of: Scholarship, Service, Leadership, and Character. Students in grades 10 through 12 in a school with both an official charter of the National Honor Society and an active affiliation with the national office are eligible for consideration for membership in NHS.


This test is usually taken in the sophomore year to prepare the student for the ACT.


PSAT is shorthand for Preliminary Scholastic Assessment Test. This standardized test is practice for the SAT and covers reading, math and writing. It is typically taken during a student's Sophomore or Junior years (grades 10 or 11). This test is offered for a fee at high schools. A fee waiver is often available for students from low-income families. The PSAT also qualifies the 50,000 top scoring students across the United States for the National Merit Scholarship. More information and the official student guide to the PSAT can be found here.