A breakdown of the Uni terminology:
College: A place of undergraduate study, usually of four years’ duration.
Liberal arts: A common programme of undergraduate study in American colleges, which emphasises a continuing interest in, and study of, subjects across a spectrum of disciplines.
Financial Aid: In the UK, known as grants, bursaries, or awards. Financial aid varies from college to college and is usually funded through the university’s own endowment. Harvard’s Financial aid is awarded not on merit but on need, and your ability to pay does not influence how your application is assessed.
House system/Harvard Houses: Originally modelled on the Oxbridge College system, Harvard’s twelve Houses offer accommodation and a social community to most undergraduates. Between 300-500 undergrads live in each House together with some postgrads, faculty members and the Head.
Semester: Term. Harvard has two main semesters, in the autumn and the spring.
Concentration: The discipline you have chosen for your undergraduate degree, e.g. Anthropology.
Major: Another term for concentration, used widely in the US.
Elective: Courses outside your field of concentration that do not need to fulfill any requirements and are taken for pleasure.
SAT Tests: National standardised subject tests administered by an independent organisation called the College Board, which aim to create benchmarks across the diverse US secondary school community. SATs are multiple choice, timed tests and are offered in some of the more popular subjects. (More info in the link at right)
Transcript: Your secondary school record, with tables listing subjects taken, exam results, and other academic and extracurricular information.
Common Application: Like UCAS, most unis in the US subscribe to a common format for applications, and over 200 colleges in the US are members of the Common Application (known as the “Common App”), which can be filled in and saved online. Please note, however, that a number of colleges expect you to download their own Common App form because of their specific variations on the theme!
Varsity: First team (sports); Blues.