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Understanding “college lingo”

Like any industry, higher education has its own words and phrases that aren’t often heard elsewhere. Here’s a glossary of commonly used words – if you hear something that’s not listed here and aren’t sure what it means, please ask!

Academic Overview – A document providing information on a single major, including course requirements and a sample plan of study. These documents are for general program information and do not provide individual student information.

Academic Standing (Good/Warning/Probation/Dismissal) – A student must maintain a minimum cumulative grade point average (GPA) to meet standards of satisfactory academic progress to remain in school. Any student not maintaining satisfactory progress toward their program of study can be at risk for being placed on warning, probation, or dismissal.

Associate of Arts (AA) Degree or Associate of Science (AS) Degree – Degree which requires a minimum of 61 credit hours and a 2.0 GPA (“C” average), that is designed for transfer to a four year college/university. Earning one of these degrees (AA/AS) will guarantee you admissions into any public college/university in the state of Ohio.

Associate of Applied Science Degree (AAS) – Degree requiring a minimum of 61 credit hours and a 2.0 GPA (“C” average), that is designed to lead directly into employment in a specific career. AAS degrees can lead into select bachelor’s degree options through transfer agreements.

Associate of Technical Studies (ATS) – Combines two or more programs into one two-year degree usually requiring a minimum of 61 credit hours and a 2.0 GPA (“C” average). Some departments offer predesigned ATS degrees, or you can work with your advisor and program chair(s) to design a custom major. Bachelor’s degree pathways for ATS degrees should be discussed with an Academic Advisor.

Blackboard (Bb) – Online system where course (web/blended or traditional) information is found, including syllabus, class assignments, and lectures.

Blended course – An instructional format offered with a large web component but also includes required face-to-face class meetings.

Career and Academic Pathway – A guided pathway providing a clear roadmap that integrates academic and career planning with student support services across the student experience. Academic majors at Columbus State are organized under eight Pathways:

  • Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences Biological
  • Physical, and Mathematical Sciences
  • Business and Hospitality Services
  • Computer Science, Information Technology, and Design
  • Construction and Skilled Trades
  • Education, Human Services, and Public Safety
  • Engineering, Manufacturing, and Engineering Technology
  • Health Sciences

Co-requisite – A set of courses that must be taken together in the same semester as one another.

Competitive Based Program (Competitive Admissions) – A program under the AAS Degree that requires completion of program pre-requisites, a separate application, and competitive acceptance (you are competing for a spot) into the program before starting technical education courses. The College currently has six Competitive Based Programs.

CougarWeb – Online system where you can register/withdraw from courses, check financial aid, your account balance, grades, and more.

Course Description – A written statement that explains what topics will be taught in that course. It will also include the credit hour value, lab fees, semester offered, and any prerequisite or co-requisites that the course may have. Credit Hours – How many hours a week you are in the classroom. Each course has a specific amount of required hours assigned. Courses are typically offered in 1 - 5 credit hour increments.

Degree Audit Reporting System (DARS) – Individualized plan of study based on your major that shows red X’s for degree requirements that have yet to be completed and green check marks for degree requirements that have been completed.

Direct Admission Programs – A program under the AAS Degree in which you can start your technical education courses the first semester. No separate application is needed.

FAFSA – Free Application for Federal Student Aid. The application for financial aid includes the application for loans, grants, college work-study, other federal/state programs, and often scholarships. You must fill out a FAFSA every year that you plan to attend college. The FAFSA applications open October 1 for the following academic year.

Financial Aid – Aid that is grants, scholarships, loans, and part-time employment from federal, state, institutional, and private sources. Awards from these programs are combined in an “aid offer” to help meet the cost of education.

Financial Aid TV – A website which provides short videos on commonly asked financial aid related questions.

FOCUS (Starfish) – Online system accessible through Blackboard used to schedule academic advising appointments, issue course alerts, and provide updates on various campus activities.

Full-Time Enrollment/Part-Time Enrollment – A full-time student is enrolled in 12 or more credit hours in a semester. A part-time student is enrolled in less than 12 credit hours in a semester.

Grade Point Averages (GPA) – Calculated by dividing the total number of grade points earned by the total number of credit hours attempted. Grade points are figured using: A=4 points, B=3 points, C=2 points, D=1 point, E=0 points.

Lecture/Laboratory – In lecture classes (LE), the instructor presents the material to the class. Laboratory classes (LB) require students to perform certain tasks in controlled situations that help them test and understand the information and material being taught in the lecture.

Major – A student’s chosen field or plan of study.

Pre-requisite – A course taken in preparation for another course i.e. ENGL 1100 with a grade of a “C” is required before ENGL 2367.

Plan of Study – A “guide” of courses for a specifics major shown in a semester-by-semester sequence.

Selective Based Programs (Selective Admissions) – A program under the AAS Degree that requires completion of program pre-requisites, a separate application, and acceptance into the program before most of the technical education courses. You are automatically accepted once you submit the application. The College currently has 10 Selective Based programs such as Early Childhood Education, Massage Therapy, Nursing, and Surgical Technology.

Semester-by-Semester Plan - An individualized academic plan that is created with an Advisor to outline the order in which a student will take courses. Plans of Study are used as a guide with input from the student on full time vs. part time status. Pre-requisites can also affect a semester-by-semester plan.

Service-Learning – Service-learning classes (S) include traditional in-class instruction and activities, as well as meaningful community service projects. Visit for more information. 

Syllabus - An outline for a course including important dates, assignments, expectations and policies specific to that course.

Synonym number – A 5-digit number needed for registration which identifies the course day/time/location. It is found on the semester schedule.

Transcript – A permanent academic record of a student’s enrollment at each institution he/she has attended, which lists courses taken, grades received, academic status and honors received. There are two types of transcripts: Official Transcripts sealed within an envelope or electronically sent directly from another college/university, and Unofficial Transcripts that are available to the student through CougarWeb.

Tuition - Amount paid for each credit hour of enrollment. This does not include books or fees. Fees are additional charges that may cover the cost of materials and equipment needed for the course.

Withdrawal – Dropping a course before the semester is complete, possibly resulting in a grade of a “W.” Before withdrawing from any course, speak with your academic advisor, your instructor, and a Student Services specialist to assure that you are informed of any consequences of withdrawing. Web Course - Instructional format offered that is online (web) based. This may require taking proctored exams in the Testing Center.