students understanding college terminology

Wait, What Does That Mean?: Frequently Used Terms in Higher Education

College is a new world, full of new jargon and slang that describe various departments, functions, policies, and locations on campus. Some are specific to an institution; others are commonly used terms in higher education. Below we’ve highlighted some of the most important that will assist First Generation Students in navigating the college experience.

General College Terms

  • First Generation Student: A student who is the first in their immediate family to graduate from a four-year school. This means that your parents have not graduated from a four-year school. This includes students whose siblings have attended college.
  • Commencement: A graduation ceremony where students receive their degrees.
  • Work Study: Part-time job specifically for students working for a department or area on campus. Some positions are open to all students, others are restricted to students who have Federal Work Study eligibility as part of their financial aid package.
  • Resident Assistant: Undergraduate or graduate student who lives in the residence halls on campus oversee a section of the building, enforcing rules/policies, providing programming/activities, and serve as mentors to students living in the resident hall.
  • Commuter Assistant: Undergraduate or graduate student who coordinates activities and programs for commuter students.
  • Commuter Student: A student who does not live in the school residence halls.

Academic Terms

  • Add/Drop Period: A grace period at the beginning of each semester where a student can decide to add or drop a course without penalty.
  • Academic AdvisorA staff member who guides students through registering for classes during their first year of classes (UB Specific) and other important academic decisions.
  • Academic Advisor, Faculty: A faculty member in the student’s academic program who guides and mentors’ students through their degree, ensuring students are taking the right courses and helping them make important academic decisions.
  • Academic Probation: A status given to students who earn below a 2.0 during a semester and are identified as needing to improve their academic performance.
  • Course Catalog: List of all courses offered by the institution. This can be used to help students plan out the courses they will take throughout their program.
  • Electives: Courses that may not be major specific that count towards the general education credit requirement needed to graduate.
  • First Year Seminar (FYS): A course designed for first year students that will help students adjust to the college environment, learn effective strategies for studying, and other techniques that will help them be successful in completing future coursework.
  • Transcript: An overview of a student’s academic progress that generally includes GPA and total credit hours.
  • Undergraduate StudentStudent studying for Bachelor’s degree (typically 4 years).
  • Graduate Student: Student continuing education after receiving a Bachelor’s degree studying for Master’s degree (typically takes 2 years).

UB Specific Terms

  • First Year Student Learning Communities: First year students are placed in groups where they will take 3 common first year classes together with the goal of building relationships.
  • PED Mall or Pedestrian Mall: Area located between the Student Center, Mandeville Hall, Carlson Hall, and the Engineering building where motor vehicles are prohibited.
  • Chaffee Circle: Outside space located in between Marina Dining Hall, Chaffee Hall and Cooper Hall.
  • SGA “Student Government Association”: Organization on campus that is the official representative body of the undergraduate student population.
  • SPB “Student Programming Board”: Student run organization dedicated to planning events and activities for students on campus.
  • Heckman CenterHousing many student services including: Career Development, Civic Engagement, Leadership, Study Abroad, and Office of Student Academic Success.
  • SSS: Student Support Services located in the Wahlstrom Library 5th Floor.
  • Office of Student Academic Success: advising and supporting first year students and tutoring. Staff are located at the Heckman Center, Wahlstrom Library 2nd Floor.