Advising - College Terms

Academic Advisor: The person at a college who helps a student decide what classes to take, when to take them, how many credits to take, what major to pursue, etc.

Academic Standards: Standards, such as a certain grade point average, that students must maintain in order to remain in good standing with the college.

Academic Year: Each institution's annual schedule. At Pierce College, academic years are divided into quarters.

Accredited: Colleges and schools must meet requirements in academic programs, facilities, teaching, etc., to be certified by accrediting agencies. Usually, colleges must be accredited for students to receive financial aid.

Advanced Credit: Some colleges offer tests for advanced college credit. Students who receive a high score on these tests can earn credit in specific subject areas and may skip to higher-level courses.

Advanced Placement (AP): College-level courses offered in high school. Students may take an AP test at the completion of these courses. Students with high scores on these tests can be placed in upper-level college courses and may receive college credit for beginning-level courses. More information about Pierce College's advanced placement.

Alumni: People who have graduated from a college.

Articulation Agreement: An agreement between two schools that allows course credit at one school to be accepted or transferred and applied toward a degree or certificate at another school.

Arts and Sciences: A group of academic studies that may include fine arts, languages, social sciences, natural sciences and humanities.

Associate's Degree: The degree granted by colleges after students complete a two-year, full-time program of required courses or its part-time equivalent. These degrees are offered by many kinds of colleges, including community colleges, technical colleges and colleges and universities that offer bachelor's degrees.

Baccalaureate or Bachelor's Degree: The degree granted by a college or university after students have satisfactorily completed a four-or five-year, full-time program of required courses or its part-time equivalent. Students usually receive a bachelor's of arts or bachelor's of science degree.

Career Plan: A set of steps to be followed over a period of time to get a desired job.

Catalog: A college's book of general information about classes, faculty, costs, and admission and degree requirements.

Competitive Admission Policy: An admission policy in which a college only admits students who meet certain requirements.

Conditional Admission: A college may admit students who have not met all the admission requirements. To remain, these students must fulfill specified requirements before or during their enrollment.

Core Classes: Classes that all students in a major program or college are required to take.

Corequisite: A required class or lab taken with a related course.

Credit: How schools measure a student's progress toward a diploma or degree. The number of credits assigned to a course depends, in part, on how much time is spent in class each week. For example, most courses offered by colleges on semester calendars are worth three credits. Credits are also referred to as "credit hours" or simply, "hours."

Curriculum: The available courses in a program of study at a specific college.

Declare a Major: Officially enter a college major or area of study. Students take many classes in their major, gain specialized knowledge and earn a degree in that area.

Deferred Admission: A college may accept a student, but then allow the student to delay coming to the college for one year.

Discussion Section: A small group of students, often led by a graduate student, associate instructor, or teaching assistant, who meet to discuss the lecture portion of a class.

Early Admission: Students can take the necessary standardized tests and apply early in their senior year for admission to some colleges. If you choose to apply for early admission and are accepted, the institution guarantees you a place and you promise to attend the institution.

Elective: An optional class. Some electives fulfill general education requirements outside of a major.

Exemption: A course requirement that is fulfilled by passing an exam in the subject.

Extracurricular Activities: Non-required activities that occur outside the classroom.

Faculty: The teachers, professors and instructors who teach at schools.

Faculty Advisor: The faculty member assigned to individual students. Usually, it's a teacher in their area of study.

FAFSA: See Free Application for Federal Student Aid.

Federal Pell Grant: A federal financial aid award that is not paid back. Students apply by filling out the FAFSA.

Federal Perkins Student Loan: A low-interest loan for students who show financial need. It must be repaid after graduation. Students apply by filling out the FAFSA.

Federal Subsidized Stafford Loan and Direct Ford Loan: Student financial aid processed through a bank and/or college. A student must be enrolled in a college degree program at least part time to receive a Stafford Loan. Loans must be paid back with interest after a student leaves college. Students apply by filling out a FAFSA.

Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (SEOG): Federal grant for students with exceptional need. Students apply by filling out a FAFSA.

Federal Unsubsidized Stafford/Direct Unsubsidized Ford Loan: Similar to a subsidized Stafford Loan, except interest is paid by the student during college.

Fee: Money charged by a college for services, such as lab materials, computer use and recreational facilities.

Finals Week: Time at the end of the semester when classes do not meet and final tests are given.

Financial Aid: Federal, state, college and private programs that help students pay for college. Financial aid may come in the form of grants, scholarships, loans or work-study programs.

Financial Aid Counselor: A college staff member who helps students and parents fill out financial aid forms and processes financial aid money.

Financial Need: Difference between the cost of attending college and the Expected Family Contribution. A student's (or family's) financial need determines how much financial aid will be awarded.

Full-time Student: A student who carries a minimum number of credits or hours to be considered "full-time" by a college. Pierce College requires at least 12 credit hours per quarter for full-time status.

General Education Requirements: The broad-based body of classes colleges expect students to take.

Gift Aid: Financial aid that is not repaid, such as grants and scholarships.

Grade Point Average (GPA): A system for evaluating the overall scholastic performance of students. Grades are often measured on a four-point scale in which an "A" equals four points and a "B" equals three points, etc. These are called grade points. Total points are found by multiplying the number of credits for a course by the student's grade point. A student's GPA is found by dividing the sum of grade points by the number of course credits.

Graduate Record Examination (GRE): A test often used to determine eligibility for graduate school (administered by the Educational Testing Service).

Graduate Student: A student who has earned a bachelor's degree and is working on an advanced degree such as a master's or doctorate.

Grant: Financial aid based on student need; it is not repaid.

Interdisciplinary: Programs or courses using knowledge from two or more academic areas.

Internship: Experience gained by students working at jobs on or off campus.

Students get practical experience in their area of study.

Job Shadowing: Time spent with someone who is at work. This time is used to better understand what people do in their job.

Liberal Arts: A school or course of study which focuses on developing students' general knowledge and reasoning ability instead of specific career training; the result is often considered to be a well-rounded, general education in the arts and sciences.

Major: A focused area of study. Students take many classes in their major, gain specialized knowledge and earn a degree in that area.

Master's Degree: An advanced college degree earned after a bachelor's degree, usually taking at least two years for a full-time student to complete.

Matriculate: To register or enroll in a college.

Mentor: A person who gives advice, guidance and help.

Minor: An area of interest studied at the same time as a major.

It is rarely in the same department as a major and requires fewer classes than a major.

Need Analysis Form: A form, filled out by the student and/or family members, used to determine the amount of financial aid the student can receive. The FAFSA is the federal need analysis form.

NMSQT: See National Merit Scholarships, Preliminary Scholastic Assessment Test/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT).

Nontransferable Degree: A degree, often an associate's degree, that cannot be counted as credit toward more education.

Occupational Outlook: A prediction of future job openings in specific career fields.

Occupational Training: Education and training to prepare for a particular occupation.

Office Hours: In education, hours set aside by an instructor to meet with students.

Ombudsperson: In education, a person who acts on behalf of students and others in the college community who have difficulties with the college.

On-the-job Training: Training provided for employees while they are learning a job; the employee creates a product or provides a service while being trained.

Open Admission Policy (Open Door Policy): Admission policy in which anyone with a high school diploma or its equivalent can take classes. See Rolling Admission, Selective Admission.

Orientation: Programs to help new students and parents get to know a college. Orientation usually takes place before or at the beginning of the academic year.

Part-time Student: A student enrolled in a number of course credits that is less than full time. At Pierce College, this is fewer than 12 credits per semester.

Portfolio: A file of materials created by a student that displays and explains skills, talents, experiences and knowledge gained throughout life. Portfolios are often used when applying for a job.

Prerequisite: Beginning class (usually required) that prepares students for a more advanced class.

Probation: Academic status of students whose GPA falls below a minimum level (this varies from school to school).

Professor: A teacher at a college (often tenured). See Tenure.

Program: Set of required courses for a degree in a major area of study.

Prospectus: A booklet of general information about a college or program.

Quarter: A calendar used by some colleges, including Pierce College. The academic year is broken down into four periods, each lasting 10 to 12 weeks.

Registrar: Person (or office) in a college who manages class schedules and academic records.

Remedial Course: A course that teaches basic skills needed to succeed in college courses. These skills are often in the general areas of math, writing, reading, etc.

Requirements: A set of conditions that must be met in order to do something, such as be accepted to a college, complete a degree, etc.

Residency Requirements: At Pierce College, this refers to the minimum amount of time a student must live in the state to pay in-state tuition, which (for public colleges) is lower than the tuition paid by out-of-state students.

Satisfactory Academic Progress: Completion of courses according to school standards. Satisfactory academic progress must be shown to receive financial aid and continue in school.

School-to-Work: An effort to provide all students high-level skills for the future and connect their education to the work world.

Selective Admission Policy: An admission policy in which a college only admits students who meet certain requirements (sometimes referred to as Competitive Admission Policy).

See: Open Admission, Rolling Admission.

Standardized Admissions Tests: These tests (such as ACT and SAT I) are designed to measure knowledge and skills and are used to predict achievement in college. The test score may be considered along with other factors for admission to the college.

Student Aid Report (SAR): Summary of information that details a family's Expected Family Contribution (EFC) and financial aid eligibility. Families receive this after filling out a FAFSA.

Student Body: All students who attend a particular school.

Student-designed Major: At some colleges, students can plan an individualized major. Such programs must be approved by appropriate college administrators.

Student Loan: Student financial aid processed through a bank and/or college. Loans must be paid back with interest after a student leaves college. Students apply by filling out a FAFSA.

Study Abroad: Programs in which students go to college for some time in another country while making regular progress toward their diplomas or degrees.

Subject Area Tests: Standardized tests given by the American College Testing Program or College Board in specific high school subjects, such as biology, foreign languages, etc. Colleges look at these test scores when making decisions about course placement or admission to a specific program. Many programs do not require these tests.

Support Services: Services provided by most colleges to help students in areas such as academics, veterans affairs, adult and special needs.

Tenure: Guaranteed employment status given to teachers and professors after successful completion of certain requirements within a certain time period.

Transcript: The official record of a student's educational progress; it may include listings of classes, grades, major area and degrees earned.

Transferable Degree: A degree, usually an associate's, that can be counted as credit toward more education, such as a bachelor's degree, at the same or different college.

Transfer Program: College program that prepares students to complete a degree at another college. Pierce College offers transfer programs to prepare students to continue their education at colleges and universities offering bachelor's degrees.

Transfer programs often award associate's degrees.

Transfer Student: A student who changes from one school to another. Grades and credits from the first school may or may not be counted at the second.

Schools may not accept all the credits earned at another school.

2 + 2 Program: A program offering an associate's degree that will transfer directly toward a bachelor's degree in the same field of study. These programs may be within the same college or between two colleges and may be known by other names.

Unconditional Admission: Students who meet all of a school's admission standards are given this status.

Hours of Operation

M-Th: 8 a.m. - 5 p.m.
F: 8 a.m. - Noon

* Hours may vary the first week of quarter and between quarters

Advising - Fort Steilacoom
253-964-6705

Advising - Puyallup
253-840-8431