College Admission Terms Glossary

A list of terms on college admissions that can help you gain a better understanding of the application process and key actions and factors involved.

Admission Plans

Early Action (EA) is used primarily at highly selective colleges. Under Early Action, students apply by early November and will be notified of a decision no later than mid-December. Students do not have to withdraw other applications or to let the institution know of their decision until May 1.

Early Decision (ED) is a binding admission plan offered to well-qualified applicants who are definitely committed to their choice of college. Students apply early, typically in October or November, and will be notified of their acceptance by December or January. There are two types of ED plans:

  •  1. Single Choice: students are allowed to apply to only one college
  • 2. First Choice: students may apply elsewhere but agree to withdraw all other applications if accepted by the ED school.

Regular Decision: The application process that requires application materials to be submitted no later than the specified deadline printed in the college catalog or application form. Applications are not reviewed until all applications from the entire applicant pool have been received. Admission responses mailed or emailed all at once,  usually from March 15 to April 15.

Rolling Admission: The admission plan in which a completed application is acted on as soon as it is received. Students are admitted on a continuing basis. The applicant can receive a decision very quickly, but is not obligated to attend.

Admission Decisions

Colleges usually reply in one of five ways:

1.  Accept your application

2. Deny your application

3. Defer you application & will be reviewed in the regular pool of applicants.

4. Waitlisted: is the term used by selective colleges that do not initially offer or deny you admission, but extend the possibility of admission to a later date (usually late May through July 1st). It is best to discuss all wait list situations with your counselor. Second semester grades can be critical to your acceptance.

5.  Admit/Deny which means you are accepted, but denied financial aid.

Online Application Sites

Common App allows you to apply to multiple schools using one application form, accepted by over 400 private and public colleges in lieu of their own applications. A listing of the schools that will accept the Common application may be found at www.commonapp.org







Post-Application Actions

Candidate Reply Date: May 1st is the national deadline by which all admitted students must inform colleges of their intention to enroll or not enroll. A non-refundable deposit is due by this date. This is a final deadline unless a college admissions officer has granted you an extension. In addition to notifying the school you will attend of your intentions, you are also obligated to notify all other schools to which you have been accepted of your plan not to attend. Sending a deposit to more than one college is not ethical and may jeopardize your acceptances at each of the colleges involved.

Deferred Admission: A student applied early or rolling admission to a school, and the college has postponed its decision in order to receive more data that include grades, other essays, achievements, or recommendations.

Deferred Entrance is an admission plan that allows an accepted student to postpone entrance to college for a year while retaining a guarantee of enrollment. During that year, student may work or travel but may not enroll at another college.






Financial Aid Terms

Need-Aware Admission: Financial need might be a factor in the admission decision.

Need-Blind Admission: Students are admitted based on academic and personal criteria, regardless of ability to pay. This does not include international students.

Merit-Based Financial Aid is financial aid (including scholarships) awarded based on a candidate’s academic ability, special talent, competition/audition, etc. It does not include athletic aid. It may or may not take into consideration the financial need of the candidate and does not have to be paid back.

Need-Based Financial Aid: Offered by colleges and the federal government to bridge the gap between college costs and the family’s ability to pay as determined by FAFSA and CSS. A typical aid package is divided into three parts: grant (gift money that does not have to be paid back), loan, and work-study (campus job).

FAFSA: The Free Application for Federal Student Aid. It is one form used for need-based and federal aid. Applications are usually available from www.fafsa.ed.gov by mid-December. This form cannot be filled  out until after January 1 and must be submitted no later than March 1. The earlier you apply, the better chances of receiving more aid there is.

PROFILE(CSS Profile): College Scholarship Service, a financial aid form required by some colleges as supplemental information to the FAFSA, usually used by private universities. This form takes a closer look at the parents assets rather than the FAFSA, which tends to focus more on student and parent’s Adjusted Gross Income (AGI).

Demonstrated Need: Cost of attending a college or university, minus the family’s estimated contribution (FEC) as determined by federal or institutional methodology.

Pell Grant: Federal grants designed to help students with college costs. Eligibility is determined by the FAFSA.

College Work-Study Program provides part-time jobs for undergraduate and graduate students with financial need, allowing them to earn money to help pay education expenses. The program encourages community service work and work related to the recipient’s course of study.  You must complete the FAFSA to apply.

Planning for College

Keys to Planning for College

Helping students align their education with their college and career goals is one of the keys to our program. If you would like more individualized assistance, contact us to schedule a free consultation.

Career & Interest Exploration

The Career Key: Take a test to discover which personality types you are most like. You can then match the results with the most promising careers, college majors and training programs.

Career Zone California: The site offers career interest assessment that pairs occupations with your interests and personality.

Quintessential Careersthe ultimate career and college site, offering comprehensive, free expert advice as well as serving as a directory of links to all the best job sites.

TypeFocus Personality Test: Online personality type program based on C.G.Jung’s work.  TypeFocus measures three interactive concepts: personality, interests and values. Signing up gives you access to your free personality profile and reports explaining how this knowledge can be applied to make your life better.

Inner Heroes: Based on “Follow Your Inner Heroes(tm) To the Work You Love” by author, Carolyn Kalil.

Keirsey Personality Test: Powerful 70 question personality test with free basic report, and some paid in depth reports.

College Research

College Data: Get detailed college information, find out your chances of getting into a specific college, set up a free account and track your admissions process.

Campus Explorer: Campus Explorer is a FREE SERVICE that helps all types of students find the school that best matches their higher education needs.

College NavigatorA great tool to help find colleges that fit your interests, needs and requirements.  Search colleges by entering detailed information into their search engines.

College Board College Search: One of the nation’s largest organizations involved in higher education.  This is a site to become familiar with no matter which school you plan to apply to.

Virtual College Tours

Applying for College

Keys to Applying for College

Here are some links that can get you started in the right direction for college admissions. For more customized admissions applications and essays assistance,contact us today to schedule a free consultation.

College Essay Tips

Essays & Personal Statements 101
What’s the purpose of a college essay?  How do I choose an opening & theme?  What’s the best way to organize & edit my essay?

How to Write a GREAT College Essay: A simple formula on how to write a great essay.

Essays That Worked!

A collaborative of essays that acutal students wrote and worked in getting them accepted to the college of their choice.

Student Athletes

NCAANearly 1,100 colleges and universities in NCAA Division I, Division II and Division III collectively invest in improving the experiences of student-athletes.

NAIANational Association of  Intercollegiate Athletics is a governing body of small athletics programs dedicated to character-driven intercollegiate athletics. 

NCAA Eligibility CenterA Quick Reference Guide to Division I & II Initial Eligibility Requirements

Informed Athletes: Provides accurate information, education, advice & guidance related to recruiting, eligibility, scholarships, and transfers for NCAA, NAIA, and NJCAA rules.

NAIA Reference GuideA Quick Reference Guide on college recruiting, eligibility to participate and much more!

NJCAAPromotes Junior College athletics on intersectional & national levels so that results will be consistent with the total educational program of its members.

Varsity EdgeProvides information for parents, student-athletes, & coaches on the college recruiting process and what it takes to play at the next level.

Paying for College

How Paying for College Works

The average student graduates with around $30,000 in debt. Work to avoid this by planning in advance to qualify for the most money in scholarships grants and financial aid, and kiss those heavy student loans goodbye.


Fastwebthe leading online resource in finding scholarships to help you pay for college.

Cappex ScholarshipsHere you can uncover millions of dollars in scholarships from colleges, universities, private companies, foundations — and more — to help pay for school. Simply fill out a free profile to discover which ones match you best. You’ll even be able to apply to special Cappex scholarships with one click.


Financial Aid

Net Price CalculatorA tool that students can use to estimate their “net price” to attend a specific school.

FAFSA: The Official Website for Completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid

CSS Profile: Apply online for non-federal financial aid from 400 colleges & scholarship programs.

California Student Aid Commission: The Official Website for Completing an Application for a CalGrant.






Student Loan Information







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