Test your knowledge of admissions office terms

Welcome to College Admissions 101. Here’s a pop quiz on acronyms and abbreviations used in the college admissions process.

Everybody is familiar with GPA — Grade Point Average. And SAT — it used to be the Scholastic Aptitude Test, but it took on its more accurate name of Scholastic Assessment Test in March 1994. How about ACT? — we all know that it’s the Southern/Midwest rival of the SAT, but how many know what the letters stand for? It’s American College Test. Don’t feel too bad; many admissions officials were stumped by this one.

Try your hand at the following. Check below to see how you did:

Admissions Office


Financial Aid Office


How did you do?

Admissions Office

EA — Early Action — non-binding early notification

ED — Early Decision — binding single choice

SSR- Secondary School Report — Counselors’ Report on student

URM — Under Represented Minorities

DOA — Director of Admissions

DOI — Demonstration of Interest — showing interest in college

LOR — Letter of Recommendation

QOL — Quality of Life (on campus)

WL — Wait-List

RIC — Rank In Class

OOS — Out-Of-State

TOEFL — Test of English as a Foreign Language

Financial Aid Office

FAFSA — Free Application for Federal Student Aid

EFC — Effective Family Contribution

FAO — Financial Aid Officer

COA – Cost of Attendance

SAR — Student Aid Report

CRDA — Candidates Reply Date Agreement


13-18: You too, can be a DOA.

8-12: You’re halfway to a Ph.D.

4-7: Remedial work recommended.

1-3: You’re DOA (not to be confused with Director of Admissions).

Other Important definitions – While this was a light-hearted approach to the varied college admissions vocabulary, understanding the significance of terms is an important part of the process. Here are some detailed descriptions of a few common college admissions terms.

AP courses: More-advanced high school courses. Exams are taken that can allow students to receive college credit. AP courses are important examples of rigor of curriculum.

Weighted GPA: Many high schools add “quality” points to grades earned in AP or IB courses to reflect their unusual level of difficulty. Some colleges convert weighted GPAs to standard GPAs for the purposes of comparison.

National Merit Scholarship: A prestigious award that is determined by a high school junior’s score on the NMSQT/PSAT (National Merit Scholar Qualifying Test/Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test). Students scoring at or above a certain level, which adjusts annually, are eligible to apply for National Merit Scholarships.

Transcript: The high school academic record that includes a list of all courses, grades and standardized test scores. Transcripts should be signed across the seal by the appropriate school official and should not be open.

Common Application: www.commonapp.org is a not-for-profit organization that provides a single admission application, online and in print, that students may submit to any of the 315 member institutions. In its inaugural year of 1998, 1,246 applications were submitted via the Common App Online. In the nine years since, nearly 3 million Common Applications have been submitted online.


Bierer is an independent college adviser based in Charlotte. Send questions to: lee@collegeadmissionsstrategies.com; www.collegeadmissionsstrategies.com