A List of College Admissions Terms You Need to Know

At times, it can seem like colleges are speaking a foreign language.

Freshman, Honors, Transfer, Liberal Arts, Matriculate — Hold on a second, let’s back up.

We know that there is a lot of language that you may be unfamiliar with in the admissions process. And while it’s probably better than speaking in emojis, we understand that we may need to elaborate on a few of the terms we use.

Allow us to teach you how to speak college and understand the meaning of these important terms.


Undergraduate (Scrabble score: 16).

Any student at PSU who is in the process of earning their bachelor’s degree.

Bachelor’s (Scrabble score: 16).

The degree awarded to students after completing their undergraduate coursework. With PSU’s Four-Year Degree Guarantee, you can get your Bachelor’s Degree as quick as possible.

Liberal Arts (Scrabble score: 13).

A general term for academic subjects such as literature, philosophy, mathematics, and social and physical sciences.

Freshman (Scrabble score: 16).

A first-year student at a university. Freshman at PSU often live in on-campus housing, participate in Orientation and take Freshman Inquiry courses.

Transfer (Scrabble score: 11)

Any student who is taking undergraduate courses at PSU after participating in courses at another college or university after they have graduated from High School.  Note, we understand some High School students can take college classes while still in High School. Any current High School student applying for admission to PSU will be considered a “Freshman Applicant” regardless of how many college classes they will have taken prior to graduating from High School. That student may not be considered a Freshman once they matriculate (see below for definition) based on the number of college credits they transfer in.

Honors College (Scrabble score: 19).

An academically-intense course of study at PSU focused around community. Honors College applications are filled out separately and have different requirements.

Lower Division (Scrabble score: 20).

Classes offered at the freshman or sophomore level. Generally, lower-division classes will be in the 100-200 range and are often classes that prepare you for your intended major. All community college courses are considered lower division.

Upper Division (Scrabble score: 21).

Classes offered at the junior or senior level. Generally, upper-division classes will be in the 300-400 range and are often classes that delve specifically into specific topics relating to certain major programs.

Quarter (Scrabble score: 16).

PSU divides the school year up into quarters (sometimes called “terms”), rather than semesters. Each quarter you will take new classes. Most freshman start in the fall quarter and graduation takes place at the end of the spring quarter.

Fall Quarter: September – December
Winter Quarter: January – March
Spring Quarter: March – June
Summer Quarter (optional): June – September

Registrar (Scrabble score: 10).

The registrar’s office at PSU keeps track of all student records. The registrar is also where you can change your major, order official transcripts and register for classes.

Matriculate (Scrabble score: 15).

You’re in! To matriculate means to be fully admitted and enrolled at PSU!


Whew! That’s a lot, but now you should be armed with all the knowledge you need to attack the application process. And of course, if you see something you can’t quite decipher, you can always contact us at the Office of Admissions and we can help you out.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *