College Counseling Glossary

College Counseling Glossary

A-G Requirements: The A-G Requirements are a sequence of high school courses that are required by the California State University and University of California college systems to determine eligibility for admission. Impact students’ curriculum is A-G approved, meaning that any student who graduates from Impact has met the subject requirements for any college in the University of California and California State University systems.

ACT: American College Testing. The ACT Program is a standardized, multiple-choice aptitude test, which measures English, mathematics, reading, and science aptitude.  All colleges and universities in the U.S. will accept scores from either the SAT or the ACT.

AP: Advanced Placement (AP) refers to college-level courses (designed by the College Board) that are offered in high school. Students may take an AP test upon 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.

Applicant Reply Deadline: May 1 is the universal National Candidates Reply Date for students to make a commitment to the college of their choice. This date is also the national deadline for submitting a deposit to one college.

College Board ( A not-for-profit organization offering the SAT. Test descriptions and preparation materials can be found on its website. The web site also has information on many colleges in the U.S.

College Essay: Sometimes called a personal statement, many colleges require that students write an essay as part of the application. The topics and guidelines for the essay vary depending on the college.

Common Application ( A standard application form accepted by OVER 450 colleges.  However, please note that many colleges have additional unique application requirements.

Deferral: An admissions decision that means the applicant has not yet been admitted or denied, but that the application will be reviewed again and decided on in March or April. A deferral may be received if a student has applied under an Early Decision or Early Action plan. This is different than being put on a wait list, which indicates that a student will only be accepted if enough currently accepted students choose not to attend.

Early Action: A phase of the admissions process in which students receive an application decision earlier during their senior year. November 1 and November 15 are the most common application deadlines for students applying under Early Action Plans.  Colleges generally inform students of a final admissions decision by mid-December. Students often will not receive any other information from the school at this time, such as information about financial aid. Students typically have until the Candidates Reply Date on May 1 to choose whether to enroll.

Early Decision: Early Decision is a binding agreement between a student and a college.  If a student applies under an early decision plan, they will sign an agreement that if admitted, they will attend that college and will withdraw all other applications.

Expected Family Contribution (EFC): The amount of money a family is expected to contribute towards a student’s college expenses.  The EFC is calculated using the information provided on the FAFSA, and takes into consideration income, assets, family size, and number of family members in college. Typically, the lower the EFC, the more financial aid a student will receive.

FAFSA: Free Application for Federal Student Aid. This free form is used by colleges to determine a student’s eligibility for Federal financial aid.

Fee Waiver: Students who can show substantial financial need may be permitted to submit college applications and test registration forms without the normally required fees.

Financial Aid: Funding that enables students to attend college. Both academic merit and financial need may be considered, depending on the college. Students receive these financial awards in the form of scholarships, grants, loans and campus employment opportunities. Need is determined through a combination of forms from the College Board CSS PROFILE, the FAFSA, and sometimes the college itself.

Gapping: A term used when a financial aid package does not meet a student’s need requirements. There is a “gap” between a student’s need and financial assistance requirements.

GPA: Grade Point Average.  Represents the average grade maintained by a student when all countable/completed units are considered in combination. For example, an “A” average equals a score of 4.0, “B” equals 3.0, “C” equals 2.0.

Match School: A college where your academic credentials fall well within (or even exceed) the school’s range for the average freshman. There are no guarantees, but it’s not unreasonable to be accepted to several of your match schools, and it is highly recommended to apply to several.

Matriculate: To register or enroll in a college.

PROFILE or CSS/Financial Aid PROFILE: A financial aid application service offered by the College Board.  Some colleges use this in addition to the FAFSA to figure out a student’s financial aid needs.  Please refer to the College Board website for the most up-to-date list of colleges using the CSS PROFILE system.

PSAT: The PSAT/NMSQT (Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test) is a program co-sponsored by the College Board and the National Merit Scholarship Corporation.  It assesses skills developed through years of study in a wide range of courses. The PSAT/NMSQT has three parts: Verbal, Math and Writing Skills, and is taken by students during their sophomore and junior years.

Reach School: A college where your academic credentials fall below the school’s range for the average freshman. Reach schools are long–shots, but they should still be possible.  Students should apply to a few reach schools that they like, but be realistic about their chances of getting in.

Regular Decision: This is the most common timeframe in which students apply for college and colleges make their acceptance decisions. Most application deadlines for regular decisions are in January or February, although some colleges and universities may have an earlier deadline (for example the University of California system).

Rolling Admissions: The policy used by many colleges to evaluate applications as soon as they arrive in the admissions office, making ‘admit’, ‘deny’ or ‘waiting list’ decisions within a few weeks of receiving the application.

Safety Schools: A college where your academic credentials fall above the school’s range for the average freshman. You can be reasonably certain that you will be admitted to your safety schools, so even if they aren’t necessarily your first choice, it is good to apply to a few as a back-up.

SAT Test: Standard Aptitude Test. Administered by the College Board, it is the most widely used college admissions test. The SAT uses multiple-choice questions to assess verbal and mathematical reasoning ability, along with a short essay and multiple choice questions to test grammar and writing skills. College-bound high school students take the SAT during their junior and/or senior years.

SAT Subject Tests: Formerly called the SAT IIs, these are individual subject tests (such as Spanish, Biology, and Math) which may be required by particular colleges for admission.

School Code: A six digit number assigned by national testing agencies to each secondary school for identification purposes. Impact’s school code is 054255.

Senioritis: A decrease in motivation that some students may feel as they approach the end of their high school career. It is important to stay on track and motivated through the end!

Student Aid Report (SAR): An applicant’s Student Aid Report summarizes all of the information included on his or her FAFSA application and will be sent to the student once the FAFSA is received and processed.  It includes the Expected Family Contribution (EFC).

Wait List: Rather than deny a student admission from the start, a college may put him or her on a wait list. If the college does not fill all spaces from its first round of acceptances, it will offer admission to some of the students on the wait list.

Yield: The percentage of accepted students in a college who enroll in the same college. If a yield is high, the competition is usually greater.