University Terminology

For Students in the College of ACES

Academic Advisor/Counselor - In the College of ACES, a faculty member will be assigned as your academic adviser. This person will help you organize your course-load to fulfill the requirements of the major you choose. They can also help you negotiate any academic problems you encounter.

Academic Warning/Probation - A student can be placed on academic warning or probation if they are not making progress towards their degree - for example, if their GPA has fallen below 2.0 for a semester. Consult the Undergraduate Catalog for details.

Alumni - Graduates of an institution are called alumni. NMSU has an active Alumni Association including recent graduates and graduates from many years ago. Link to website.

ACT (American College Test) and SAT (Scholastic Aptitude Test) - Universities encourage or require applicants to take these tests, which measure aptitude and academic skills, to evaluate them for admission. The goal of these tests is to assess your success at college in various subjects including math, science, language, and general reasoning skills.

Getting in to NMSU - Application: To apply to NMSU, fill out and submit application forms and send documentation regarding your previous education and test scores.

Acceptance - When NMSU invites a student to attend, based on his or her application this is called Acceptance.

Admission - Admission is the next step, when a student agrees to attend NMSU and is admitted.

Audit - Auditing a course means attending the class as a visitor and completing work in an unofficial capacity, not for credit. Audited courses do not count towards a degree.

Bachelor's Degree - This undergraduate degree is granted by four-year colleges and universities, usually after a student completes 120 credit hours according to the structure of a major. The College of ACES awards the bachelor of science degree.

Catalog - The course catalog is released each year (online) and contains information about the year's course offerings and about NMSU policies and procedures, degree requirements, financial aid, and other information about college life and the history of the institution.

CLEP (College Level Examination Program) - This is a test students can take to obtain college credit via proficiency tests rather than by enrolling in courses.

College - At NMSU, the term "college" designates the organizational units within the university, such as the College of Agricultural, Environmental, and Consumer Sciences or the College of Arts and Sciences. Elsewhere, "college" can sometimes refer to a stand-alone four-year institution.

Commuter - A commuter student is one who lives off-campus.

Credit Hours - This refers to the amount of credit you earn for taking a given course. In general the number of credit hours matches the number of hours per week the class meets.

Curriculum - This refers to the set of classes prescribed for a student studying a given subject or major.

Degree Requirements - As well as completing the curriculum laid out for a given degree, it may also be required that a student maintain a certain GPA, take prerequisite courses in other fields, or complete a certain number of credit hours.

Degrees - A degree is the award that signifies what program of study you have completed. The bachelor's or baccalaureate degree is awarded for successful completion of four years of study in a specific major. A master's degree is completed after the bachelor's and may have various requirements, and a PhD is a multi-year degree that usually involves completing independent research and writing a dissertation.

Department - Colleges are organized into departments, with each department focusing on a certain field of study and setting the requirements for obtaining a degree. Faculty are also organized into department for administrative functions. Sometimes department are referred to by acronyms: for example, in the College of ACES, the department of Agricultural and Extension Education is often called "AXED."

Drop & Add - Dropping a course (ceasing to be enrolled in that course) or adding a course (enrolling in a course after the semester has begun) is allowed during a certain period of time at the beginning of each semester. Depending on the timing, you may need to obtain the signature of your academic advisor or the instructor of the class.

Faculty - Instructors and professors who teach and do research at NMSU form its faculty.

FAFSA - Free Application for Federal Student Aid. This is the application students use for financial aid and scholarships, including loans, grants, college work-study and other federal and state program.

Fees - These are charges not included in tuition that go toward aspects of student life not directly related to instruction, as well as materials and equipment used in courses.

Financial Aid - Federal, state, and private sources provide aid to students via grants, scholarships, loans, and employment. Awards may be based on need, academic performance, or other factors.

Lecture/Laboratory/Discussion Classes - A lecture class generally involves students and instructor meeting together and the instructor presenting class material in the form of a lecture, with students listening, taking notes, and asking questions. A laboratory class is a hands-on experience for students in which they are guided by a laboratory instructor in making their own investigations. It often complements the material covered in a lecture course. In a discussion class, students talk about content, interact with one another and the instructor, and practice analytical skills through discussion.

Letter Grades/Grade Point Averages (GPA) - A letter grade is an "A," "B," "C" "D" or "F," while a grade point average is figured from the letter grade, with As worth 4 points Bs 3 Cs 2 points Ds 1 point and Fs 0. A GPA is calculated by multiplying the number of hours a course is worth by the points earned for each letter grade, then dividing by the number of total credit hours.

Major/Minor - A student's field of study is called a major. Similarly, a minor is a field of study that a student focuses on but with a smaller number of credit hours (as determined by the given department).

Mid-Term Exams (Midterms) - Instructors often give a cumulative exam about halfway through the semester that tests knowledge of the material covered thus far.

Petition - A student who wants the university to consider special circumstances may fill out a petition explaining their reasoning.

Prerequisite Courses - Sometimes, one course must be taken first in order to qualify to take another course. This first course is called a Prerequisite.

Registrar - This is the office in charge of academic records, including enrollment, eligibility of students for various programs (such as athletics or veterans programs), and grades.

Schedule of Classes - This document, published by NMSU, reports which courses will be offered in a given semester, and information about the classes, such as where they will meet and at what time, the instructor's name, and the course title and number.

Syllabus - Instructors create a syllabus for each class they teach, to let students know important information such as material to be covered, timing of assignments, and policies and expectations. This is an extremely important document for students to consider.

Transcript - The institution's record of your academic performance is called your transcript, and confirms that you have taken certain courses and earned certain grades and honors. You may need to provide your transcript to other institutions or workplaces in order to pursue graduate study or qualify for certain jobs. If you owe money to the university, they will not release your transcript.

Transfer of Credits - Transferring credits means moving academic work you've done at one institution to another institution. Not all course credits are transferable.

Tuition - Tuition is money you pay for the cost of instruction. Other items such as fees, books, or room and board, are extra. Students who reside in-state prior to enrollment pay lower tuition than those who come from out-of-state.

Undergraduate - An undergraduate student is one pursuing a bachelor's degree.

University - A university, such as NMSU, includes undergraduate and graduate students and is usually divided into colleges offering degrees in various fields.

Withdrawal - Withdrawing from a course, or leaving the course without receiving a grade, can be done under certain circumstances. (Check the catalog and class schedule for details, timing, and fees.) If you withdraw from a course after the drop date, you will pay a percentage of the tuition cost for that course.

Acknowledgment: The website and Mr. Bill Etheridge's "College Terminology" list were consulted in compiling this glossary.