Key terms help you speak the language of administrative staff.

Every organization has its own special words and professionals in the college administrative offices are no different. Speaking their language moves you to the front of the line for services.

Accreditation – Articulation Agreement – Transfer

You may not be aware that there are regional accreditation groups that agree to accept each others’ coursework from 85% of colleges and universities. What if you took courses at other colleges? If you try to transfer them, even if it is a degree, you might lose out. See the list at to be sure. Transferring means you want another college to accept your other college credits. Articulation agreements can mean one school has agreed to accept coursework or other experience toward certain majors. For example, a public school district can have an agreement with a college to apply work taken at high school toward your college degree.

Program-Major-Selective Admissions-Prerequisites    college

Departments have programs, which have majors. Some of these programs and major are selective admissions. That means, even if you have been accepted at the school, you may have to qualify to be admitted to the program or major. For example, the Allied Health Department has a program called Physical Therapy. That program has a major called Physical Therapy Assistant. This a selective admission program. That can involve GPAs (Grade Point Averages), course prerequisites, minimum number of hours already taken, and other requirements. Prerequisites are courses you have to take before you can enroll in other courses.

Register-enroll-drop-withdraw-course load

After you are accepted at the college, you register for classes (you tell the school you intend to take classes). Once you are registered, you can enroll in a specific course. If you find out you don’t need or want the class, there are deadlines for dropping or withdrawing. Both affect whether you will get any money back based on the schedule. Dropping occurs within a window early in the course. Withdrawing often has a different schedule. Both affect the grade on your transcripts. They also affect financial aid.

Posting –transcript- degree-diploma -Registrar

When you complete a course, drop or withdraw it, the grade or other code is placed on your academic record called your transcript. Official transcripts must be sent from the college. When you have your coursework completed, your academic record will do through a degree audit, which means that a staff person in the Registrar’s Office makes sure you have completed your requirements. Your official transcript will have your degree posted (showing up) on it. A diploma is issued later and separately. The diploma is for you. It is not proof of your degree.

P.S. It is Registrar not Register.



When you get close to finishing your coursework, you become a candidate for graduation. You usually have to apply to be a candidate. This lets the school plan for who wants to participate in Commencement, which is a ceremony for candidates. “Walking” in Commencement does not mean you have graduated. You are a graduate when your degree is posted on your official transcript.

How did you do? Did you ace the test? Keep the college catalog handy for reference until you are a pro.  Administrative staff, the ones recording each key to your future, will smile when they see you!


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