Information for the parents of college students
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College Lingo for College Parents: Talk the Talk! – Part 4

We’ve written three earlier posts about some of the college vocabulary it might be helpful for you to know. Be sure to check out Part 1 and Part 2 and Part 3.   Here is a fourth installment.

Every profession, activity, or area of interest has its own jargon or set of specialized vocabulary.  College is no different.  College administrators, faculty members and students develop a set of short-hand terms that can be confusing to those not familiar with them.  As a college parent, you may be surprised at how quickly your college student will pick up the appropriate lingo.

If your college student slips into “college-speak” and you don’t understand what she is talking about – ask!  She may express impatience, but she’ll probably explain.  However, if you want to be able to at least begin to talk-the-talk, here are five more terms to get you started.  Please remember that there may be some variation in the use of these terms at various institutions.

Academic Probation or Academic Warning

A student may be placed on Academic Warning or Academic Probation if his GPA (Grade Point Average) falls below a certain level.  These terms may be used interchangeably, or they may mean different things.  A student who is placed on Probation or Warning will be expected to meet certain academic standards by the end of the probation semester.  Sometimes students are required to participate in academic support programs or may be restricted in terms of Federal Work Study hours or athletic participation.  Students who fail to raise the level of their academic work by the end of a probation semester may be subject to dismissal or suspension.

Course Registration

This is the process through which students sign up for their courses for the following semester.  It will probably take place sometime after the midpoint of the current semester.  Students are often asked, encouraged, or required to meet with their academic advisor before registering for courses to be sure that they understand their course requirements.  Registration at many institutions now takes place on line.  The period of time for signing up for classes may be a few weeks, or it may remain open to the student until the beginning of the semester.  Students usually have a designated time, based on class seniority, when they may register for their classes.  It is important to register early, as some classes fill.  Students should have alternative classes in mind.

Elective courses

These are courses which are not required to fulfill any college requirement.  Students will probably have certain all college required courses, certain courses required for their major or minor, and the remainder of their courses may be general elective courses.  General elective courses are a great opportunity to explore new and interesting areas.

Room Selection

Room Selection for current students is the process of choosing living arrangements for the following academic year.  It is a highly charged and stressful time for students. Each institution handles Room Selection differently, but because it is such an important issue for students, the Room Selection process is usually very carefully organized and publicized in order to make it as fair as possible for everyone.  Room Selection usually requires that students have paid a Housing Deposit for the following year, and is based on a Housing Lottery.  The Lottery gives priority to upperclass students and then randomly sorts students within a class level.  A low Housing Lottery number is a prized thing!  Students who are new to a college are generally assigned their housing over the summer and do not participate in Room Selection.

Work Study

The Federal Work Study portion of the financial aid package is the portion that a student can earn through a part-time job on campus.  Funds are provided to the college by the federal government to be distributed to students who have jobs on campus.  Federal Work Study jobs are based on financial need and are a part of the student’s financial aid package.  This is a reimbursement program.  Students work part time jobs on campus and are paid, usually at minimum wage.

Don’t be intimidated by college terminology or “lingo”.  If you’re not sure what something means, ask!  You’ll be “talking college” before you know it.

We’ll address some additional terms in future posts.  Watch for more lingo to come.

1 comment

1 Susan { 04.28.09 at 10:46 am }

I’m here from Problogger. Very interesting site. I’ll be putting your site on my Google reader so that I can refer you to parents of college students. (My dd graduated in December.)

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