DigiPen is committed to providing equal opportunities and access to all prospective students. If you are a first-generation student*, we have provided guidance regarding the admissions process and requirements. Our glossary of terms below can help first-generation students (and all students in general) navigate the college admissions process.
*While there are many definitions of first-generation student, the federal government’s Higher Education Act defines one as: (A) An individual both of whose parents did not complete a baccalaureate degree; or (B) In the case of any individual who regularly resided with and received support from only one parent, an individual whose only such parent did not complete a baccalaureate degree.
Glossary of Terms
Accreditation - The oversight of a university, college, or academic program by one or more outside organizations. Accreditation organizations certify that an institution is following certain guidelines and policies.
Add/Drop - A short time period at the beginning of the semester in which students may add or drop courses from their schedules without them showing up on their transcript.
Adjunct Faculty - A professor who teaches on a limited-term contract, often for one semester at a time, and who is ineligible for tenure.
Alumni - Graduates of a college or university.
Class Standing - Refers to a student’s official year in school — first-year (freshman), sophomore, junior, or senior — based on the number of college credits completed.
Commencement - Graduation
Course Catalog - Official list of programs and courses offered at a college or university that outlines critical information about admissions and academic requirements.
Course Load - The number of credit hours for which a student is enrolled in a given semester.
Course Number - A cataloging system that contains a series of letters and numbers to designate a course by the department that teaches it and the academic level. For example, CS 100 is a freshman-level course taught in the Computer Science department. Classes 100-299 are usually considered lower-level undergraduate courses, 300-499 are considered upper-level undergraduate courses, and 500-599 are considered graduate courses.
Course Section - When the same course is offered multiple times in the same semester, each course is designated with a section number. For example, ENGL 150-001, ENGL 150-002, etc.
Credit Hour - Courses taken in college are measured in terms of credit hours. To earn one credit hour, a student must attend a class for one classroom hour (usually 50 minutes) per week for the whole semester (usually 16 weeks). Classes are usually offered in one to five credit-hour increments.
CRN - Course Reference Number. Used to specify each particular section of a course and can be used as a shorthand when registering for classes.
Deferment - A temporary pause to your student loan payments for specific situations. Loans are deferred as long as students are enrolled at least half time, during a six-month grace period after a student graduates, leaves school, or enrolls on a less than half-time basis.
Deferral - An accepted student has the opportunity to postpone their enrollment for a year through a deferral and enroll the next year without having to reapply.
Degree Requirements - The requirements prescribed by an institution for the completion of a program of study. May include a minimum number of credit hours, required GPA, prerequisite and elective courses within the specified major, and/or minor areas of study.
Degree Audit - An evaluation of a student’s progress (courses completed, grades received) in their degree program (majors and minors). Can be found and accessed within Colleague Self-Service.
Department - A division within a school or college that offers instruction in a specific subject area.
Department Chair - A faculty member who manages an academic department and typically, the person to see when a student is having scheduling problems or issues with a particular faculty member.
Direct Subsidized Loan - Low-interest loans awarded to students with financial need determined by the FAFSA. The federal government pays the interest on these loans while in deferment.
Direct Unsubsidized Loan - Low-interest loans available to all eligible students and do not require students to demonstrate financial need. Students are responsible for paying all interest but can allow for it to accrue while in college and during the grace period.
Enrollment - The procedure by which students choose classes each semester. Also includes the assessment and collection of fees.
EOP - Educational Opportunity Program – A program designed to assist students from various ethnic backgrounds who are underrepresented or in need of academic support.
FAFSA - Free Application for Federal Student Aid. A form completed by current and prospective college students (undergraduate and graduate) in the United States to determine their eligibility for student financial aid.
Fees - Fees are additional charges not included in the tuition. Fees may be charged to cover the cost of materials and equipment needed in certain courses and assessed for student events, programs, and publications.
FERPA - Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act. Federal law that protects the privacy of student education records.
Financial Aid - Money that is given or lent to students in order to help pay for their education.
Freshman/First-Year Student - An undergraduate student who has earned fewer than 30 credit hours.
Full-Time Faculty - The core instructors (professors) of a college or university who are under contract for at least a complete academic year.
General Education - Set of required curriculum/courses that all students are required to take, including courses in math, English, science, communication, culture, and society.
Graduate Program - Graduate programs are available to students who have completed a four-year degree program and hold a bachelor’s degree. Graduate programs are an opportunity to continue your education, sometimes in a more specific area of study. At DigiPen, graduate students are enrolled in our master’s degree programs.
Grant - A type of financial aid that is considered a gift and does not require repayment. Common examples include Federal Pell Grants, State Grants, and others based on specific financial needs.
Hold - A hold (or registration hold) can be placed on a student’s account due to academic dismissal, not fulfilling required faculty advising, a disciplinary problem, money owed to the university, failure to return library books and/or other supplies, or non-compliance with housing and health center regulations.
Internship - An opportunity for students to gain critical real-world, hands-on experience in their chosen field of study.
Junior - An undergraduate student who has earned between 60 and 89 credit hours.
Lab - Learning environment in which hands-on work is completed, typically in science and foreign languages. Is often tied to a lecture portion of a course.
Lecture - A class session in which the instructor speaks on a specific topic or topics during class.
Major - A student’s chosen field of study. It usually requires the successful completion of a specified number of credit hours.
Matriculated Student - A student who is admitted, registered for classes, and in good academic standing.
Minor - A student’s secondary field of study that is designated by a specific number of credit hours, usually less than those required for a major.
Non-Credit Courses - Some courses have zero (0) credit hours and do not meet the requirements for a certain certificate of a degree at a given institution. Non-credit courses may serve one of several purposes: to explore new fields of study, increase proficiency in a particular skill area or profession, develop potential, or enrich life experiences.
Office Hours - The days and times that college faculty set aside to meet with students enrolled in their classes. Traditionally, these take place in the instructor’s office (not in the classroom).
Part-Time Student - A student enrolled in fewer credit hours (and courses) in a given term than the college considers as full-time. A change to part-time status typically affects things such as financial aid.
Prerequisite Course - A course that is required to be taken and passed prior to registering for another course. A number of upper-division courses often have prerequisites.
Private/Public Institutions - The main difference between private and public institutions is primarily in terms of their source of financial support. Public institutions receive funding from the state or other government entities and are administered by public boards. Private institutions rely on income from private donations, religious or other organizations, and student tuition. DigiPen is a private institution.
Registrar - An administrator and office on any college campus who oversees such things as registration, storing academic credit records, maintaining academic audit sheets, and dealing with transfer credits from other colleges.
Registration - The process in which students select and officially sign up for classes for the next semester.
Resident Advisor - A student leader who is responsible for supervising and assisting other, typically younger, students who live in the same residence hall.
Rolling Admissions - A policy used by DigiPen in which prospective student applications are accepted and evaluated as they are submitted throughout the year versus waiting to evaluate after a hard deadline.
Rubric - A scoring guide used to define what is expected and what will be assessed to evaluate an assignment.
Sanction - A disciplinary action taken by an institution when a student has engaged in some form of misconduct. Examples include a written warning, disciplinary probation, service work, fines, etc.
Scholarship - Monetary awards (that do not need to be repaid) presented to college students based on various criteria, such as need-based, academic excellence, leadership, community service, and extracurricular activities.
Senior - An undergraduate student who has earned 90 or more credit hours.
Sophomore - An undergraduate student who has earned between 30 and 59 credit hours.
Syllabus - A document (which some students and faculty see as the binding agreement for a course) provided at the beginning of a term that outlines the key elements of a course, including things such as learning objectives, assigned readings, major assignments, test and quiz information, and other requirements or expectations of the course.
Synchronous Learning - Online classroom format in which students learn together during scheduled class times and can engage with classmates and instructors via chat rooms and video conferencing.
Transfer Student - Student who attends one college but decides to leave that school and apply for admission to a different college or university. The student then transfers some (or in rare cases, all) credits from the old school to the new school.
Tuition - The core price for college classes. Tuition may be listed as a flat rate for a range of credits, usually 12-18, or priced per credit.
Undergraduate Program - Undergraduate programs are typically four-year degrees that students participate in after completing high school. An undergraduate student enrolls in a bachelor’s degree program (sometimes also known as a baccalaureate).
Waitlist - A term commonly seen during registration periods. Students hoping to enroll in a full class can opt to be placed on a waitlist. This essentially saves a place in line in case spots open up from registered students dropping or changing plans.
Withdrawal - Typically refers to the dropping of a course (or all courses) for which a student is registered in a given term. A grade of “W” on a student’s transcript indicates withdrawal from the course by a specified deadline.
Work Study - A Federal financial aid program providing part-time employment to students based on the financial need of students and available jobs within the university.