top of page

Part 2: Let's dive in to understand all these college admissions ACRONYMS!

Let's continue with our acronyms. Check out the next ten below - take a look at the overall BRIEF meaning of each of them.

Refer back to this post as often as you need to, or jot a few of them down to start becoming familiar with some of the most popular terms in college admissions. No need to memorize them all now. You're just getting started, so read up and hold on for the ride!

On to your test......The Acronyms - The ANSWERS & What Each one means!

Let us know how you did! Do you know any other acronyms that are important to the college admissions process? Email me at

EA: Early Action

Not all colleges offer Early Action options for applications. For the few that do, it's a great way to get a bit ahead of the game and submit their application early. The bonus in doing so means that your daughter might find out sooner than those who apply under Regular Decision whether she gets in or not.

RD: Regular Decision

This is the college's main application deadline. Although students can certainly turn their applications in earlier than this deadline, all applicants applying under RD will be reviewed within the same pool. So, if the deadline for RD is on February 15th but your daughter sends in their completed application on December 3rd, the college will still include her application as part of the RD applicant pool if she is applying as a Regular Decision applicant. Many colleges have only Regular Decision. Most highly selective colleges have some form of an earlier submission date alternative in addiiton to their Regular Decision option, like those listed previously - Early Decision 1, Early Decision 2, Early Action, Restrictive Early Action.

CSS: College Scholarship Service

Not every applicant or college student will need to know this or come into contact with CSS. Required by just 300 colleges in the US, the CSS Profile is an application for aid that is used for awarding what the institution itself determines, unlike the FAFSA which is aid determined by the government.

ACT: American College Test

Just like the well-known SAT test, the ACT is a standardized test that colleges use to guide them in making admissions decisions. Colleges have stated there is no preference in a student taking one over the other, while some college have gone either test optional (students can choose whether or not they want to send in test scores) or even test blind (even if a student sends in their test scores, the college will NOT look at it). ACT scores range from 1 to 36.

AP: Advanced Placement

Advanced Placement is a program or courses that was developed by the "College Board" to give students a high level course of study options for high school students. Students take the course as part of their high school schedule but then also have the chance to earn college credit if they score at a certain level (each college determines this level) when they take an exam at the end of the coursework.

GPA: Grade Point Average

Each class your student takes in High School is usually (not always) assigned a letter grade (A, B, C, D, or F) or a number grade (65-100). A student's GPA or Grade Point Average is calculated by adding all the grades earned and dividing them by the total number of credits earned. If a student attends a school that uses a letter grading system, most schools use a 4.0 system with an A=4, B=3, C=2, D=1 rule. Sounds simple, right? Stay tuned in future blogs as we take a look at how this can change from class to class and from school to school.

OOS: Out Of State

This one is simple enough:-). When an applicant is applying to a college in which they do not attend high school, they are considered Out of State applicants as opposed to In-State applicants.

SCEA: Single Choice Early Action

This one is easiest to understand if you look at part separately. Let's look at the last part first: Early Action. So, just like the Early Action application submission option above, students who apply under Early Action are not entering a "binding" agreement. In other words, unlike "Early Decision", students do not have to agree that they will actually attend the college if they are admitted to the college under the "Early Action" cycle. But, also like the "Early Action" option above, students must submit their applications earlier and they are notified earlier than those who apply under "Regular Decision".

Now, let's take a look at that first part: Single Choice. "Single Choice" means just that - you get one choice - you can apply to one college that has this application option. You can apply to other colleges under their "Regular Decision" submission option but you may not apply to other colleges under Early Action (there are a few exceptions under this rule that we'll discuss later) or Early Decision.

SAR: Student Aid Report

This document is what lists out what your possible financial aid eligibility could be. This is tied to your FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid).

WL: Waitlist

If your daughter is placed on the WaitList of a college, then the college believes she is a competitive candidate. They simply don't have the space to accept them yet. Your student could be pulled from the waitlist and asked to join or not. Most colleges do not "rank" the students on their waitlist so it's hard for your daughter to know exactly what her chances might be for moving to the "accepted" student pile.

If you have any questions on the terms above, or even just want to share your frustration on the need to understand so many!!!!, reach out to me via email - I'm at

Until tomorrow, Momma!!


bottom of page