15 Lesser-Known (But Equally Important) Admissions Terms

Ever feel like college applications are written in a foreign language? In a certain sense, they are—if you’re not hip to a few important aspects of admissions, you might get confused when it’s time to apply. See if any of these 15 college application terms could impact your enrollment.

Alternative Assessment – Approach to college admissions that places more emphasis on the student’s individual traits and body of work than on standardized testing and other traditional admissions criteria.

Common/Universal Application – Students can apply to multiple schools—400+ schools use the Common Application; roughly 80 share the Universal College Application—instead of completing individual forms for each institution.

Cross-Registration – Students who are enrolled at one institution can complete courses at another without going through a formal application process.

Deferred Acceptance – A student’s admission decision is moved to a later date.

Dual Enrollment – Credit for college courses is extended to students who are still in high school.

Early Action – High school students apply to a school early in their senior year and request an expedited review of their application materials. In this scenario, the student is not obligated to attend the school upon acceptance.

Early Decision – High school seniors take early action (see above) and agree to attend that prospective college if they are accepted.

Need Blind – Institutional policy by which financial need is not reviewed and does not factor into the admissions decision.

Non-matriculated – A student who, while not yet admitted to the institution, is able to take classes, participate in athletics, and apply for financial aid.

Open Admissions – Institutional policy by which academic qualifications are not reviewed and do not factor into an admissions decision.

Rolling Admissions – Admissions policy wherein no deadline is set for applications—students can apply at any time.

Score Choice – Option that allows students to choose which SAT score to send to their prospective college(s). SAT scores are sent automatically if this option is not selected or if the institution does not provide this option.

Test Optional – Colleges and universities that place little or no emphasis on standardized test scores such as the ACT and SAT in their admissions decisions. (Visit www.FairTest.org for a full list of test-optional schools.)

Wait List – Consists of “overflow” students who have not been accepted to a particular institution but are awaiting an opening for possible enrollment.

Yield – The number of accepted students (estimated beforehand by the school) that will actually enroll in classes. This annual projection gives admissions offices a historical basis for deciding how many students to accept.


This article was written by Hannah Purnell

Hannah Purnell is a staff writer for CollegeView.com. Hannah writes extensively on the topic of undergraduate studies and the college search process.

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