Glossary of U.S. Education and Academic Terms
A member of a college faculty or staff who helps and advises students in matters related solely to the academic program of study or major. They help you choose a major and decide the best classes for you to schedule each semester.
The period of formal instruction from early September to mid-May, divided into semesters; fall and spring.
Approval of colleges or universities by nationally recognized professional associations or regional organizations. They confirm that the college is doing everything they promise to do to educate their students.
A standardized college entrance examination including four separate multiple-choice tests that measure knowledge in English, mathematics, reading, and science. An optional writing test measures planning and writing skills. Most students take this examination during their junior or senior (third or fourth) year of high school (secondary school). MVCC accepts but does not require ACT scores.
A process within the first weeks of classes whereby students can delete and add classes with an instructor’s permission and usually without financial penalty.
A professor or instructor who does not hold a permanent or full-time position at an academic institution. This may be someone with a job outside the academic institution teaching courses in a specialized field, or it may refer to persons hired to teach courses on a contractual basis. MVCC has both full-time and adjunct professors.
An official document proving a promise of funding from an individual or organization.
Behavioral Evaluation Response Team (an MVCC committee).
The land or grounds on which the buildings of a college or university are located. MVCC has two campuses; one in Rome and one in Utica.
A branch of the Department of Homeland Security and is responsible for protecting the U.S. borders.
A department of MVCC that provides non-credit classes and workshops for training. They offer free ESL courses over the summer at the MVCC EOC on Elizabeth Street.
A number or ratio indicating a student's academic standing in his or her graduating class. A student who ranks first in a class of 100 students would report his or her class rank as 1/100, while a student ranking last would report 100/100. Class rank may also be expressed in percentiles (for example, the top 25 percent, the lower 50 percent). MVCC does not calculate class ranking nor does it use class ranking in admission decisions.
A college or university that admits both men and women; also refers to a dormitory that houses both men and women. MVCC has co-ed residence halls with single-sex suites.
A student who lives in accommodations that are not administered by the College and are off the campus grounds. He or she travels to campus every day for classes. A student who lives with a host family or in a house or apartment of their own is considered a “commuter student.”
Courses that provide the foundation of the degree program and are required of all students seeking that degree.
Regularly scheduled class sessions of one to five hours (or more) per week during a term. A degree program is made up of a specified number of required and elective courses and varies from institution to institution. A description of all the courses MVCC offers can be found here.
Units that most colleges and universities use to record the completion of courses (with passing grades) that are required for a degree. MVCC offers degree programs requiring 64-125 credits.
Training or an internship required for a student’s class which relates to their major area of study. This must be authorized by a DSO and added to the SEVIS record.
This is generally written on your visa and means you may remain in the United States so long as you maintain your nonimmigrant student status.
Diploma or title conferred by a college, university, or professional school upon completion of a prescribed program of studies. MVCC offers associate degrees in more than 90 different program areas.
A Designated School Official (DSO) is the person on campus who gathers and reports information on international students to the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) and assists international students in the visa and employment authorization process. Your DSO's name will be listed on your I-20. DSOs for MVCC are:
Students who do not earn a minimum GPA of 1.5 for their probation semester GPA are academically dismissed from MVCC. Dismissed students may not attend MVCC for one semester. Students who wish to appeal the dismissal decision may submit a written statement with supporting documentation such as verifiable written statements to confirm the issues supporting the appeal.
Housing facilities on the campus of a college or university reserved for students. A typical dormitory would include student rooms, bathrooms, common areas, and a kitchen or microwave. Rooms are typically furnished with basic items such as a bed, desk, chair, and closet or armoire. More about MVCC’s residence halls can be found here.
Part of MVCC and provides ESL classes, information and counseling to adults hoping to attend college or other postsecondary educational institutions. It is located at 524 Elizabeth St. in Utica.
People who teach courses. Faculty members may include professors, associate professors, assistant professors, and instructors.
An amount charged by universities, in addition to tuition, to cover costs of institutional services. A complete list of fees charged by MVCC can be found here.
A first-year student at a secondary school, college, or university.
Also called “gen eds,” these are courses that all MVCC students are required to take, no matter what your academic major is.
The combined average of a student's grades for all academic coursework completed. In the United States, grades are usually assigned in letters and are based on a 4.0 GPA scale.
GRADE — GPA
- A — 4.0 (excellent)
- B — 3.0 (good)
- C — 2.0 (satisfactory)
- D — 1.0 (needs improvement)
- F — 0.0 (fail)
The evaluation of a student's academic work.
Academic courses focused on human life and ideas, including history, philosophy, foreign languages, religion, art, music, and literature.
A multi-purpose government form used in connection with F-1 procedures. This document must be maintained and updated in order to be in legal status in the U.S. during the course of the student’s studies.
Form I-94 is the Department of Homeland Security’s arrival/departure record issued to international students who are admitted to the U.S. It is an electronic form which can be printed online.
An English language proficiency examination of applicants whose native language is not English. MVCC accepts IELTS scores of 5.5 and higher for English Proficiency.
A student who was not born in the U.S., who is not a U.S. citizen, who has not been granted permanent residence in the US, and who has an F1, J1, or M1 student visa allowing them to be in the U.S. for educational purposes.
The department at a college in charge of providing information and guidance to international students in areas of government regulation, visas, academic regulations, social customs, language, financial or housing problems, travel plans, insurance, and legal matters. At MVCC, your Coordinator of International Student Services is Emily Gifford. Contact her at egifford@MVCC.edu.
A third-year student at a secondary school, college, or university. Junior status is only awarded for students seeking a bachelor’s degree.
Academic studies of subjects in the humanities, the social sciences, and the physical sciences with the goal of developing students' verbal, written, and reasoning skills.
Expenses such as housing and meals, books and supplies, transportation, personal expenses, health insurance, etc. A breakdown of all costs associated with attending MVCC can be found here.
A type of financial aid that consists of an amount of money that is given to someone for a period of time, with an agreement that it will be repaid later. International students are generally not eligible for U.S. federal government loans and will typically require an American cosigner to apply for a private bank loan.
Your MVCC identifying number. This is your student number for your entire time at MVCC.
To enroll in a program of study at a college or university, with the intention of earning a degree.
A type of financial aid awarded by a college or university to students who have demonstrated special academic ability or talents, regardless of their financial need. Most merit aid has specific requirements if students want to continue to receive it, such as maintaining a certain GPA.
An exam given after half of the academic term has passed and that covers all material studied in a particular course until that point. Not all courses have midterm exams.
A minimum wage is the lowest hourly, daily or monthly wage that employers may legally pay to their workers. In the U.S. these wages are set by both the federal and state governments. As of 2017, New York State requires that employees be paid no less than $10.40 per hour.
An academic subject area that a student chooses to have a secondary focus on during their studies. Unlike a major, a minor is typically not required, but it allows a student to take a few additional courses in a subject different from his or her major.
A student who does not meet a state's residence requirements. A college or university may have different tuition costs and admissions policies for residents versus nonresidents. In most cases, international students are considered nonresidents. A "nonresident alien" is a person who is not a U.S. citizen and is in the country on a temporary basis.
A college or university's policy of accepting all students who have completed high school, regardless of their grades or test scores, until all spaces are filled. MVCC has an open admissions policy, including for international students.
A period during which undergraduate and graduate students with F-1 status, who have completed or been pursuing their degree for more than 1 year, are permitted by USCIS to work for up to 12 months without needing to acquire an H-1B visa. MVCC will help all international students who have successfully completed their program of study or have been fully enrolled for at least one full year with their OPT application.
The college’s official process of welcoming new, accepted students to campus and providing them with information and policies before classes begin, usually in a half-day or full-day event. There is a separate orientation just for international students to cover topics such as how to follow immigration and visa regulations, set up a U.S. bank account, and handle culture shock.
A student who is enrolled at a college or university but is not taking the minimum number of credits required for a full course load. International students are not allowed to be part-time students unless they have applied and been approved for a Reduced Course Load.
A grading system in which students receive either a "pass" or "fail" grade, rather than a specific score or letter grade. Certain courses can be taken pass-fail, but these typically don't include ones taken to fulfill major or minor requirements.
An English language proficiency examination that measures English ability.
An assessment used to test a student's academic ability in a certain field so that he or she may be placed in the appropriate courses in that field. MVCC has placement tests in math and English. If you would like to take your placement test prior to coming to MVCC, please email firstname.lastname@example.org. More information about our placement tests can be found here.
The use of another person's words or ideas as your own, without acknowledging that person. MVCC has a strict policy against plagiarism and more information about it can be found here.
A detailed description of the course of study for which a candidate applies. This can be found in your Degree Works which can be accessed through your SIRS account.
A type of financial aid that consists of an amount of free money given to a student by a school, individual, organization, company, charity, or federal or state government. "Scholarship" is often used interchangeably with "grant." Students who are involved in extracurricular activities are more likely to be awarded scholarships.
Any educational institution, including those that provide elementary, secondary, and postsecondary education. In the latter case, "school" is often used interchangeably with "college" and "university."
Periods of study that divide the academic year into two equal segments of approximately 15 to 18 weeks each. Some schools also offer a shorter summer semester, beyond the traditional academic year.
A course offered to a small group of students who are typically more advanced and who meet with a professor to discuss specialized topics.
Periods of study, which can include semesters, quarters, trimesters, or summer sessions.
A formal piece of writing on a specific subject involving personal research.
A standardized exam administered by the nonprofit Educational Testing Service (ETS), which measures English-language proficiency in reading, listening, speaking, and writing. Many U.S. colleges and universities require non-native English speakers to take the TOEFL and submit their scores as part of the admissions process. MVCC accepts the TOEFL as a measure of English proficiency. Students must earn a minimum of 61 on the internet based test (IBT).