One of the first challenges new students overcome is understanding the terms used in higher education. Piedmont University wants to help guide first-generation students as they navigate everything from admissions to withdrawals.
Academic integrity is the foundation of learning, research, and scholarship. It mainly means you must adhere to honesty and responsibility in scholarship.
Academic misconduct includes, but is not limited to, individual violations, helping another student with any form of academic misconduct, failing to report any form of academic misconduct, or intentionally interfering with the educational process in any manner.
An academic mentor who guides your student through their degree, making sure they are taking the right courses and helping them make important academic decisions.
A status colleges give to students who are struggling to pass courses. Academic probation is used to warn students that they need to improve their performance. Students on academic probation may lose scholarships or become ineligible for university sports.
An accredited university or college is certified to provide high-quality education in the United States. Most employers and graduate programs only consider degrees from accredited schools.
All undergraduate students are expected to maintain a minimum of a 2.000 cumulative grade point average (GPA) in all course work. Students maintaining a 2.000 cumulative GPA or higher are considered to be in good academic standing. Failure to maintain the 2.000 cumulative GPA, failure to follow academic integrity policies, or partaking in academic misconduct may result in academic censure.
Adding means registering for a course that is not already on your schedule, increasing the number of credits students are enrolled in.
During the first two weeks of every semester, you are free to make changes to your schedule and add or drop any courses as needed. A grace period at the beginning of each semester during which your student can decide to add or drop a course with no penalty.
You are expected to attend all class meetings for courses in which you are registered. The obligation to attend class begins once you are registered for a class, and you can add classes until the close of the registration period. Marquette does not require faculty to take attendance; however, if faculty use an attendance policy for a class, they must include this policy on the course syllabus, which must clearly define the consequences for nonattendance and include their policy on issuing WA grades (withdrawn for excessive absences).
A 4-year degree, usually in the form of either a Bachelor of Arts (in a Liberal Arts program) or Bachelor of Science (in an applied learning program such as engineering).
Most universities have a career services department where your student can get career advice and assistance in finding internships and beginning the job hunt for after graduation.
Refers to any program, dormitory, or activity that includes all genders. This term is typically used to describe dorms that have all genders living on the same floor.
A graduation ceremony for high school or college students.
Dean’s List honors are awarded twice per academic year, upon completion of the fall term and the spring term. Dean’s List criteria are different for each college. Think about it like honor roll in high school.
Dropping a course means taking a course off your schedule, reducing the number of credits you are enrolled in. Dropping a course during the add/drop period removes the course from your schedule and means the course does not appear on your transcript for that semester.
Each course is assigned a certain number of credit hours, usually corresponding to how often class occurs and how long classes are, as well as the course difficulty. Many classes earn a student 3 to 4 credit hours.
The head or president of a college or university.
A regularly issued list of students who have achieved high academic excellence. Qualification for the Dean’s List varies from school to school.
A degree is the final result of a college education. It’s awarded when a student earns a certain number of qualifying credit hours. Examples of degrees include Bachelor of Science, Bachelor of Arts, Master of Business Administration, a Ph.D., Associate’s, and more.
Refers to a certain section of a university. Departments are usually aligned with degrees or areas of study within a college, such as the engineering department, English department, etc.
E2Campus multimodal mass notification system that allows school administrators to send time-sensitive messages to subscribers' mobile phones and email addresses. These notifications would be a form of communication that delivers descriptive information about an emergency scenario such as an on-campus emergency, weather warnings, or campus closings.
Faculty includes any instructor who teaches a class for credit at Piedmont and is responsible for assigning grades.
This refers to the number of classes you are taking in a certain semester. A full-time student is enrolled in at least 12 credits, and a part-time student is anyone enrolled in fewer than that.
On-campus student living facilities — not required but commonly used by freshmen and sophomores. Most dorm living is connected with a meal plan and is covered by a room & board payment.
When a student leaves a course during the Add/Drop grace period, it’s referred to as dropping. There is no penalty for dropping a course during the grace period. Students may decide to drop because they are overwhelmed by their course load or want to take a different class. This is different than withdrawing, which comes after the add/drop period is over.
Most Bachelor’s Degrees require a student to complete a combination of specific courses and electives. Electives are courses the student chooses to take from a list of offerings that fulfill general education requirements.
The staff of professors and instructors at a university.
FAFSA is the acronym for Free Application for Federal Student Aid. This is the first step in applying for financial aid, and most universities require incoming students to complete the FAFSA form.
FERPA is the acronym for Federal Educational Rights and Privacy Act. This is a federal law that protects the privacy of student education records, even if they’re under 18. This means parents cannot access academic information, including grades, without the student's permission. There is an exception for health and safety information: If a college feels it would be important to share that sort of information with you, they are allowed to.
Exams at the end of a semester test a student’s knowledge of everything covered in a course. Finals are usually weighted more heavily than other exams and coursework.
Refers to any type of student loan, scholarship, or grant your student receives to help pay for college.
This is determined by the difference between the cost of college and the student’s ability to pay for it. Typically, this takes into account the ability of the student’s parents to help pay for school, as well.
First-Generation College Student
A student who is the first in their family to attend college. The term first-generation typically refers to a student whose parents didn’t earn a college degree.
A social organization for college men. Many fraternities operate their own houses where members live and host events.
Full-Time College Student
A student who is taking a full course load, typically 12 or more credits.
A year-long break between high school and college.
General Education Requirements
Most 4-year college programs come with a set of general education requirements, intended to ensure all students receive a broad education, with knowledge of topics outside of their chosen field of study.
Stands for grade point average. This is a reflection of your student’s academic achievement at school. The GPA is updated after each semester’s grades are finalized and reported.
Grade Point Average (GPA)
Your GPA is calculated by dividing the number of grade points you have earned in a given period of time by the total number of credits taken. Grade points equal the point value of the grade multiplied by the total number of semester hours of credit. For example, a grade of A (with a point value of 4.0) in a three-credit course yields 12 grade points.
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Generally, failing to complete an important course assignment would result in a lower grade in the course with no option to make it up. However, if you obtain prior permission from your instructor and merit the opportunity to make up the assignment, you may be assigned an incomplete (I) grade. If you are given the incomplete, you must clear it with the college offering the course by the date noted in the academic calendar. If you do not complete the necessary coursework by this date, the grade of I will be changed to a grade of F.
Midterm grades are assigned midway through both the fall and spring semesters. These grades are not final and will not appear in your transcripts. They are meant to be an indicator of your performance in the class. If you are not earning the grade you want, use these midterm grades as motivation to modify your class preparation.
These are scheduled hours during the week when your professors will be in their office and available for questions, to talk about the course or talk about your performance.
A course that a student must complete before taking another. Prerequisites are there to make sure you are prepared for the courses you are enrolled in and to ensure your success. Prerequisites will be listed in the Description section and/or Enrollment Information section.
A syllabus is usually both handed out on the first day of class and uploaded to the course D2L page. It is both a schedule of what will be covered in the course and an agreement between you and the professor about what is expected. The syllabus should outline all the course requirements, required readings, assignments, due dates, and grading scale. It will also include the instructor’s office hours, contact information, and any other important information.
There are three types of withdrawals: class, university, and unexcused. Class withdrawals are like dropping classes, except you do so after the add/drop period and will appear as a withdrawal grade, “W,” on your transcript. You must officially withdraw from classes using the Undergraduate Single Course Withdrawal Form.
Refers to non-technical, vocational fields of study, including literature, art, mathematics, philosophy, and social and natural sciences.
The primary focus of study in a 4-year degree. For example, your student might major in biology, philosophy, or aerospace engineering.
The plan that dictates how many meals a student can eat at on-campus dining facilities. Some meal plans also include a discretionary spending fund that can be used as cash at campus restaurants or snack shops.
Exams that occur in the middle of a semester that test a student’s grasp of topics covered in a course up to that point. Midterms are typically weighted more heavily than other tests and coursework, but not as heavily as finals.
A secondary focus of study, typically earned in tandem with a major. Your student, for example, might graduate with a major in biology and a minor in chemistry.
College orientation is a chance for your student to go to their college before freshman year begins to get a tour of the campus and ask questions.
Copying some or all of someone else’s work and claiming it as your own. Plagiarism is taken seriously in college and could result in an F, academic probation, or expulsion.
A course a student must complete before taking another specific course. For example, Calculus 1 is a pre-requisite to Calculus 2 — a student can’t take the latter without having passed the former.
The period in which a student can sign up for the classes they wish to take in a semester.
Resident Assistant (RA)
An older student, usually a junior or senior, who lives in a section or floor of a dormitory and oversees student relations. RAs are often expected to be mentors and advisors, and they also organize events and activities for dorm residents.
Room and Board
The price paid to cover on-campus living and meal plan expenses. It is usually paid for a semester or year at a time.
A half-year of college. There is a fall semester and a spring semester. Most courses are one semester long.
A general summary of a course handed out to students at the beginning of a semester.
A transcript is an overview of a student’s academic progress — it usually includes their GPA and total credit hours.
Credits that can be transferred from one school and applied toward a degree at another.
The amount paid to attend a college.
An undergraduate is any student pursuing a 4-year Bachelor’s degree.
If your student leaves a course after the add/drop period is over, it is called a withdraw. While withdrawal does not affect a student’s GPA, it is shown on their transcript. Withdraw can also refer to term withdrawal, in which a student stops taking all their courses for the rest of a semester.
A federal program that provides universities with funding to hire students for part-time jobs to help them pay for school while they attend.