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College Lingo

The college environment presents many changes for incoming students, including different expectations, responsibilities, and schedules. It is important to realize too, however, that the vocabulary of the college environment is also a change and can be filled with a lot of jargon, lingo, and specialized words you might not be familiar with. We have provided an easy to reference list of some of the words you might overhear from faculty, staff, and other students below:

  • Adjunct Faculty - Visiting or part-time instructors
  • Associate's Degree - The degree received after completing a two-year program
  • B-Term - The second half of a fall or spring semester
  • Bachelor's Degree - The degree received after completing a four-year program
  • Billing Hours - Refers to the number of hours that you are billed for to calculate tuition/fee charges and is also what MVCC uses to determine full or part-time status (12 or more is considered full-time, below 12 is considered part-time)
  • Blackboard - The "e-learning" program used in all classroom and online courses at MVCC (
  • Certificate - A credential awarded after completing a one-year program
  • Closed sections - A section or course that has been filled completely and has no seats left
  • Commencement - The graduation ceremonies held at the end of a semester
  • Course Number - Identifies a specific class, including subject (represented by two letters) and general level of the class (represented by three numbers), an example being "Introduction to General Psychology" listed as PY101
  • Credit Hours - Refers to the number of hours a class meets each week, a typical class meets for 3 hours a week although most science, engineering and art classes meet for a longer time
  • CRN (Course Reference Number) - Identifies a particular section of a class, an example being that PY101 with the CRN of 87654 meets on Wednesday nights from 6:00pm to 8:45pm
  • FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) - A form that is used by students applying for federal and other types of financial aid (
  • Intersession - A short term between the fall or spring semesters, usually lasting from mid-December and going until mid-January
  • Matriculated - A status given to students who are admitted to a degree or certificate program
  • Major - A subject or career field that serves as the focus of study in a degree program
  • Office Hours - Scheduled times when faculty are in their offices and able to talk with students
  • Orientation - A integral part of the college experience with activities designed to help new students adjust and familiarize themselves with the college
  • PELL Grant - A grant from the federal government to students in financial need
  • Plan of Study - An outline of courses required for your major that tracks your progress and is used to select courses in consultation with your faculty advisor
  • Prerequisites - Courses that must be taken prior to enrolling in an advanced course
  • Re-matriculation - The process that re-admits students to a degree or certificate program after a long absence of two or more years from school
  • Semester - The length of time a student will be enrolled in one set of classes, most commonly the fall semester from August until December and the spring semester from January until May
  • SIRS (Student Information Registration System) - An online account where students can register for classes, see grades, and pay their bill (
  • Syllabus - A course outline of the topics and assignments expected to be covered in a course
  • TAP Grant - A grant from the New York State government to students in financial need (
  • Transcript - A record of all courses taken, credits earned, and graded received
  • Transfer - Acceptance by a new college of the credits earned in a previous college
  • Tuition - The charge for academic instruction
  • Waitlist - A formal list on SIRS of students interested in joining a closed section or class
  • Withdraw - To formally remove yourself from a class (through the Registration’s office) or from all classes for a semester (through the Counseling Center)

Jennifer DeWeerth
Associate Dean for Student Enrollment and Retention Services

Utica - Payne Hall 104B
Rome - Plumley Complex A30

Phone (Utica): (315) 792-5608
Phone (Rome): (315) 334-7755
Fax: (315) 792-5696

Email: Advising

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