College Admissions Terms

Here’s a list of common terms used in the college admissions process. Also check out our Financial Aid Glossary and College Application Terms glossary.

Also available:

 1)      Acceptance – A decision made by an admissions office to offer the applicant a chance to enroll at a college or university.

2)      Advanced Placement (AP) – College-level courses offered to high school students. Students who earn a sufficiently high score, usually a 4 or 5, on an Advanced Placement exam may be awarded college credit or placement into higher-level courses for the subject in which the exam was taken.

3)      Articulation – an agreement between a two-year college and a four-year college, usually within the same state, that will automatically grant acceptance into the four-year institution to all students who graduate from the two-year institution.

4)      Candidates Reply Date Agreement (CRDA) – A policy which gives prospective students the right to postpone committing to attending a particular college until a certain date, usually May 1. This allows applicants the necessary time to wait until they’ve heard back from all of the schools to which they’ve applied before choosing which offer to accept.

5)      Deferred Admission – A student who is not offered early admission may remain in the applicant pool until all of the applications have been considered for the regular admissions date.

6)      Deferred Enrollment – After accepting admission into a particular college, a student may, with permission from the admissions office, choose to postpone enrolling for up to one year.

7)      Denial – A decision made by an admissions office to refuse enrollment to an applicant.

8)      Early Action – Under this policy, a student who applies to a college by the early application deadline will then receive early notice of acceptance, denial or deferred admission.

9)      Early Admission – A program under which qualified high school juniors may enroll in college in lieu of completing their senior year in high school.

10)   Early Decision – A policy under which a student who has applied to a college by the early application deadline will receive special consideration in exchange for making a commitment to enroll in that college if accepted.

11)  Gap-Year Program – An opportunity for students to spend a year working or studying, abroad or within the community, for one year between graduating from high school and beginning college.

12)   Notification Date – The date, usually May 1, by which a candidate who has been accepted at a college must notify that institution of his or her intent to enroll. A non-refundable tuition deposit must usually be sent in at this time to secure a place.

13)   Open Admissions – A policy under which all high school graduates are automatically granted acceptance regardless of grades or test scores, at least up to the point where all available slots in the incoming class are filled. Most two-year colleges practice open admissions, but individual programs at these colleges may have specific requirements.

14)   Placement Tests – Tests administered to incoming college students in subjects such as math, reading and writing and foreign languages, which are used to indicate the classes in which they’ll be placed and to determine whether they’ll need to complete any remedial coursework or, conversely, are exempt from certain requirements.

15)   Rolling Admission – An admissions policy in which a student’s application is considered as soon as all necessary materials – transcripts, letters of recommendation, etc. – have been received. The student will usually receive an immediate decision.

16)   Sophomore Standing – Second-year student status granted to incoming freshmen who have completed a sufficient number of college credits prior to enrolling.

17)  Waiting List – A list of applicants who, while not granted immediate acceptance to a college, may yet be offered the chance to enroll if all of the accepted candidates do not decide to attend.



Looking for more information?

Check out our College Admissions Glossary and College Finance Glossary. 

If you have any questions about a term that is not included in these guides, please drop us an email at or fill out this form.