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Your handy guide to university jargon


A university is a culmination of students from different cultures, speaking different languages and this might make understanding University jargons slightly difficult for them. So, we have decided to make a glossary of the most commonly used university words and phrases for you. Here you go!

Admission-related terms

  • Advising Agreement: This is a document containing your request for admission to a course, highlighting your inherent qualities or skillset, which will in turn benefit the University
  • Signature Document: This is a form in your application that you are required to digitally sign. It shows your understanding of the rules and norms for the chosen programme
  • Admission average: This refers to the overall average of your high school grades required for admission.

Grading-related terms

  • Credits: These refer to Academic Credit Points. These are units used to determine if a student has met the academic requirements and are often calculated against the time spent (known as credit hours) by you in doing the coursework to the grader’s satisfaction
  • Grade Point Average: Universities abroad multiply your subject grades with your credit hours to calculate an average grade at the end of the academic year. This is known as GPA or Grade Point Average
  • Adjustment: This refers to an adjustment of grades, to allow you mobility to a better university or course, during the academic year. How this works is that, if your grades exceed the academic requirement for your current course, you are given the choice to swap.

Groups, leagues, and clubs

  • Ivy League: This is associated with the group of eight highly distinguished and competitive universities located in the North-eastern United States. These include Harvard, Princeton University, University of Pennsylvania, Brown University, Columbia, Cornell University, Dartmouth and Yale University
  • Sororities: These refer to societies of female students in a university. The idea behind these is to foster a sense of community feeling, where the student members encourage and guide each other. Societies of male students based on similar principle are known as fraternities.

Campus resources

  • Carrel: Graduate students can have a study area in the library reserved for them, sometimes for a fee. This is known as carrel
  • Dorms: These are areas provided by the University for student accommodation. These can also be referred to as halls of residence.

Finance-related terms

  • Fellowship: Based on a student’s exceptional academic performance, this is a non-returnable financial aid granted by the Government, school or a University to a student as an award. Check the website of your shortlisted universities to find out which fellowships you are eligible for
  • Bursary: This is a non-returnable aid given to students based on their financial need. Entrance bursaries are for first-time students.

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