Project Opportunity: Access to Washington's Colleges'

“I thrived in smaller classrooms where I am not afraid to ask questions during lecture, and have found that all of my professors are easily accessible during their office hours.”

— Alana Hagney
University of Puget Sound



AAS-T Associate of Applied Science - Transfer. A degree created for job preparation. It does not always transfer to a baccalaureate degree-granting institution.
Accreditation Be sure you check the college's accreditation -- a stamp of approval. If the college is regionally accredited, its credits will likely transfer more smoothly. If it is nationally accredited, check with the college you want to attend next to see if/how the credits will transfer.
AP Advanced Placement. Advanced classes taken in high school culminating in a standardized test. If your score is high enough, you can get college credit for the class. Required scores differ from college to college.
Articulation The process of connecting courses at a community college and a baccalaureate college. An articulation agreement means the colleges have agreed that courses will count for certain requirements.
AS-T Associate of Science - Transfer. A science intensive transfer degree in Washington. Not every college participates in this agreement's use of coursework to meet certain requirements, but some do.
Baccalaureate A baccalaureate college is one that provides the coursework to get a bachelor of arts degree or a bachelor of science degree. It provides the junior and senior coursework.
College in the High School As it sounds, college courses are taught in the high school building. Not every college accepts these courses as college courses, but check here.
College vs University Both terms are used to indicate a baccalaureate university. A university offers graduate work in addition to undergraduate work, but sometimes the school has kept the name "college" and has graduate work. In this document, we use the word "college" to mean both.
Credit - academic Credit is given for college level work -- academic work. You need 180 quarter or 120 semester credits to get a baccalaureate degree. Academic credits take a scholarly approach covering the theory, history, and philosophy of a subject as opposed to the merely technical or "how to".
Credit - Quarter Each college chooses a calendar to operate from. The two most common in the US are the quarter and semester. The quarter breaks the year into four terms: fall, winter, spring, summer. Quarters are shorter so students aren't able to cover as much material. Six quarter credits is the same as four semester credits.
Credit-elective College degrees are composed of three types of credit -- general education, major work, and electives. Electives are the courses you take that aren't required for your major or required as part of the general education requirements. You need electives to graduate, but they don't have to be in a particular area of study. These credits can be used to explore other areas of interest. For instance if you're a political science major, you may want to take more history courses as electives. Or if you really love music, you may want to take more music courses.
Credit-Semester Each college chooses a calendar to operate from. The two most common in the US are the quarter and semester. The semester breaks the year into two terms: fall and spring. The courses are longer and students can cover more material in a semester than a quarter. Four semester credits is the same as six quarter credits
Credit-technical At community and technical colleges, some courses are technical for job preparation. Technical credits are focused on how to do things. These credits ususally do not transfer to baccalaureate universities except in specific articulation agreements.
DTA In Washington, the Direct Transfer Agreement is the associate's degree that best prepares students for non-science majors. It is generally accepted at baccalaureate institutions to have met lower division requirements.
Early Admit or Early Action In the admissions process, some colleges will admit a student early. There are a number of ways this can work. Students should be clear which one the college uses before requesting it. Some will admit a student early, but the student still has the option to go elsewhere. Others require students to enroll if they chose the early admit path and were admitted by the college (early decision).
FAFSA Free Application for Federal Student Aid: The basic application form for nearly all state and federal governmental aid. Many colleges use it to distribute their institutional aid. If you want to be considered for scholarships and grants, you'll want to fill it out.
Gen Ed General Education is the broad array of coursework that colleges require students to take in order to be seen as a well-educated person. Some colleges have very general list of coursework, while others have very specific courses that must be taken. Some colleges may use "core" or distribution requirements" to mean the same thing.
Grant vs Loan Grant money is free -- you don't need to pay it back. Loans must be repaid -- either through cash payments or in some instances through work in a certain field or certain geographic area.
Grant vs Scholarship These are sometimes used interchangably. However, sometimes a grant is used to indicate money that is provided based on income, and scholarship is based on merit of some kind (grades, musical ability, etc)
HEC Board Washington Student Achievement Council is the agency in Washington that distrubutes the state aid including State Need Grant and State Work-Study.
Humanities A field of study in general education that includes fields like drama, art, writing.
IB - International Baccalaureate Some high schools are organized to provide a curriculum that is recognized across the world as college preparatory. Some colleges will provide college credit for IB diploma or for certain scores on a higher level IB exams.
Liberal Arts A liberal arts and sciences education provides general knowledge and encourages critical thinking and problem solving skills -- the skills employers are looking for.
MRP Major Related Pathways are specific course sets that have been created to provide a smooth path into majors that require greater specificity in lower division coursework.
Public vs. private
Colleges are financed differently. Public colleges (also called state colleges) receive direct funding from the state. Private colleges (also called independent colleges) may receive some resources from the state, but it generally comes in the form of student aid. Because the state doesn't directly fund them, they have more control over how the college is run. Private colleges may be run as a non-profit, or as a for-profit company. Members of Independent Colleges of Washington are all non-profit colleges.
Remedial or Pre-college courses Remedial courses prepare you for college level work. If you need to take them, they will prepare you to succeed in college. You can't receive college credit for the work, though, since they are not at the college level, but preparing you for college level work.
Residence requirement Most colleges require you to take a certain number of credits on their campus in order to receive a degree from that school. Most colleges require 30 semester credits or more, and check here for more information
Running Start A program in Washington that allows high school students to take courses on a college campus that can be used to fulfill high school requirements and also counted as college work. Not every college treats Running Start courses the same. Students should not assume they will receive college credit for them. This program isn't right for everyone, but check it out if you're interested.
SBCTC State Board for Community and Technical Colleges-- the governing board for Washington's community and technical colleges.
WSAC Washington Student Achievement Council is the agency in Washington that distrubutes the state aid including State Need Grant and State Work-Study.
Work-study Student aid programs that allow you to work while you're in school. Work-study jobs tend to be more understanding of a college student's schedule than a regular job. Jobs are on campus and off-campus, providing you with flexibilty and a great way to test out your chosen career.


Funded in part by a grant from
the Ben B. Cheney Foundation
published by Independent Colleges of Washington