Getting Familiar With College Lingo

When you’re applying for or starting college it’s important to familiarize yourself with college-isms.

So you don’t have to have a dictionary next to you, or waste time Googling college lingo, I’ve comprised a list of college words and phrases that will be popping up on you soon:

Ivy League: The Merriam-Webster definition of the term is, “of, relating to, or characteristic of a group of long-established eastern United States colleges and universities widely regarded as high in scholastic and social prestige.” The eight schools in this category are Brown, Columbia, Cornell, Dartmouth, Harvard, Princeton, the University of Pennsylvania, and Yale. According to MacMillan dictionary, the phrase Ivy League was coined because the buildings of these schools were so old they were covered in Ivy.

College vs. University: Unless you’re in England, you don’t hear people say, “I’m going to University.” More commonly, in America especially, you say I’m going to college. But then why are some school proceeded by college while others have a university title? The answer is, colleges only award undergraduate degrees, while universities in addition offer graduate and doctorate degrees.

More specifically, The US Department of Education defines college as, “An institution of higher learning that offers undergraduate programs, usually of a four-year duration, that lead to the bachelor’s degree in the arts or science.” In comparison, a university is defined as, “An educational institution that usually maintains one or more four-year undergraduate colleges (or schools) with programs leading to a bachelor’s degree, a graduate school of arts and sciences awarding master’s degrees and doctorates (Ph.D.s), and graduate professional schools.”

FAFSA: FAFSA stands for The Free Application for Federal Student Aid. It is a government program that awards students of higher education money to pay for tuition. Once you apply at,, the schools you indicate will receive your application and evaluate how much money they can award you. According to their website, federal loans, awarded by FAFSA, have “low fixed interest rates, income-based repayment plans, loan forgiveness and deferment (postponement) options,” in comparison to private bank loans.

BS vs. BA: A Bachelor of Arts degree (BA) focuses more on liberal studies. A Bachelor of Science (BS) degree focuses more on science and math courses. Some possible BA degrees are art, music, English, and foreign language. BS degrees can be computer science, nursing, and accounting. Degree variations, however, can differ slightly for each school.

Semester: In high school the year is usually broken up into four quarters. Typically in college the year is broken up into two semesters. The first is between about September-December, and the second in between January-May.

Program Evaluation: The name may differ slightly by school, but a program evaluation is your personal progress to your end degree. A program evaluation will tell you what courses you’ve taken, what you have left to take, and the numbers of credits you have completed and still need to complete to graduate.

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Lisa Manente

Lisa Manente

Lisa Manente is a senior at Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, CT. She will be graduating with the BA in Media Studies and Communications in May. Editing the Entertainment section for her university’s newspaper and magazine has fueled her passion for entertainment journalism, which is the career path she plans to explore. In her free time she enjoys reading, traveling, listening to music, and catching up on celebrity gossip.