We put together this glossary of common terms that sometimes have parents scratching their heads. While every effort has been made to accurately define the terms in this glossary, Colgate’s official policies and procedures are outlined in the University Catalog and the Student Handbook; those sources should be referred to for critical decisions. For more information on any of these subjects, we encourage you to also consult the Parent & Family Resource Guide and search the Colgate University Website

Academic adviser. The member of the faculty who formally works with a student to provide guidance through their decision-making about courses, choice of major, and other matters related to their progress toward their degree. At first, the academic adviser is the student’s first-year seminar (FSEM) instructor; once the student declares their major, they choose a new adviser in that department or program. May also be referred to as the student’s faculty adviser.

Academic calendar. The official University schedule — a list of important dates and milestones in the academic year. It is established and approved by Colgate’s academic affairs board (which includes student representatives) four years in advance. The schedule is framed from August through June, reflecting Colgate’s semester format.

Academic credits. The unit of measure recognizing the successful completion of a course or lab. At Colgate, most courses carry one course credit. Students must complete a minimum of 32.00 course credits (along with meeting other requirements) to graduate.

Academic progress. Students must remain in good academic standing by earning a minimum Grade Point Average (GPA) each semester, as well as cumulatively. Satisfactory Academic Progress is also necessary to remain eligible for federal and/or state financial aid. Students who fail to meet minimum academic progress are subject to academic warning or suspension. Learn more: colgate.edu/academic-regulations.

Academic year. The timeframe of August through June, reflecting Colgate’s semester format.

Administrative dean. A member of the Dean of the College staff assigned to provide support while promoting a student’s intellectual, personal, and emotional development. Every student has an administrative dean.

ALANA. Acronym for Africana, Latin, Asian, and Native American.

Areas of Inquiry. The required component of the Liberal Arts Core Curriculum in which students take courses from a range of disciplines that foster breadth in their overall coursework. 

Authorized User. Because student account information is part of their education record according to federal privacy laws, students must authorize any parent or guardian to have access to their student account via TouchNet. A parent or guardian given access to the student account is an authorized user. Authorized Users receive e-billing notification, can view student account information, and are able to make online payments.

Bachelor of Arts (AB). The degree that undergraduate students at Colgate earn upon completing their academic program. The letters AB are used instead of BA following the Latin convention (artium baccalaureus). Colgate diplomas are written in Latin.

Balance due. This is the amount of money that the student owes Colgate on their current bill for any charges not yet paid. The amount of money owed and the due date can be found by students and authorized users via the student’s TouchNet account.

Career development. Colgate’s term for all the programs and services that empower students to explore and take action in preparation for life after college. Learn more: colgate.edu/career-development.
Catalog. This online publication outlines official University academic policies, requirements, course offerings, and other important information.

Co-curricular. Activities, programs, and other experiences outside of a student’s coursework that provide learning opportunities and complement their academic curriculum. Examples include participation in clubs and organizations, sports and recreation, artistic pursuits, cultural activities, and volunteering.

Commencement. Colgate’s term for the graduation ceremony.

Community Leader (CL). Colgate’s term for a resident adviser (RA). These paid student staff members provide guidance and support to the residents of their halls. They can assist with discussions with roommates, clarify residential life policies, identify departments and resources to help students, and advise on self-care and risk reduction strategies.

Code of Student Conduct. The set of standards by which Colgate expects students to behave. The code outlines prohibited behaviors and affirms individual responsibility and respect for the rights of others in the community in creating an environment consistent with the University’s commitment to educating all of its students.

Convocation. A time-honored rite of passage for all new students, Founders’ Day Convocation is a formal event when the Colgate faculty officially welcomes the incoming class into the academy. It takes place the evening before the first day of classes. 

Core curriculum. See Liberal Arts Core Curriculum.

Cost of attendance. This is the figure that represents, as accurately as possible, how much money a year at Colgate will cost, not taking any financial aid into account. It includes all charges directly billed by Colgate (tuition, student activity fees, housing, meal plan) as well as an estimated amount for other expenses that a student may expect to have (books and supplies, travel, personal spending money, loan fees).

Course load. The number of courses a student is taking in a given semester. There are specific course load regulations and requirements. A typical full-time course load is 4.00 to 4.50 credits per semester. Learn more: colgate.edu/academic-regulations.

Credit balance. A student account balance (indicated as a negative figure) that Colgate owes to a student (or another party), typically the result of payment or financial aid disbursement (payment to the student account) that exceeds the charges billed to the student. Credit balances can remain on the student account to apply against future charges, or be refunded to a student/family upon request (see Credit refund below).

Credit refund. In the case of a credit balance, a refund of credit is the act of Colgate issuing money owed to a student (or other parties depending on the cause of the differential). This is done by request of the student to the Office of Student Accounts. The typical method of refund is by electronic transfer directly to a designated bank account established in the student’s TouchNet record.

Degree conferral. The formal moment when the University designates that the student has earned their AB or master’s degree from Colgate. Degree conferral takes place for most students at the commencement ceremony in May. Learn more: colgate.edu/academic-regulations.

Domestic student. A student whose permanent home address is within the United States.

Drop/Add. The period at the beginning of the semester when students are able to make adjustments to their schedule, with instructor permission where required.

Elective. A course that is not required for a specific major. Electives are opportunities to round out a student’s education, explore subjects of interest, and in some cases fulfill Liberal Arts Core curriculum and other academic requirements. They can also allow a student to gain a deeper understanding of a specific subject within their field of study, or to complement their selected field of study with knowledge from another subject or discipline.

Family Weekend. Every fall, Colgate welcomes students’ families for a weekend on campus. Family members can spend time with their students informally as well as experience campus life by attending classes, athletic contests, exhibitions, performances, presentations, and more.

Financial aid. Money to help pay for college that does not come from family or personal savings or earnings. Sometimes called student aid. Financial aid can come in the form of a grant (need-based cash gift), scholarship (merit-based cash gift), a work-study job at school, and federal or private loans.

Financial hold. A designation on a student account indicating that the student has an overdue balance or, in other words, has failed to meet announced deadlines for financial obligations (payments) to Colgate. A student whose account is on hold cannot participate in course registration or course drop/add. For graduating seniors, a financial hold may also mean they can not participate in commencement exercises or receive their diploma.

Flex Dollars. Flex Dollars are funds that are given to the student by Colgate Dining Services with the purchase of a meal plan. These funds can be spent like cash at campus dining locations and the campus convenience store using the ’Gate Card. Learn more: colgate.edu/meal-plans.

’Gate Card. This is the ID (identification card) that students use for multiple functions. It is a key to doors in secure buildings and facilities on campus. It keeps track of their dining hall usage. It is also used to check out materials from the library and can be used as a debit card. Learn more: colgate.edu/gatecard

’Gate Cash. Students (and their authorized users) can deposit money into a debit account to pay for things on campus (e.g., laundry, fees, or fines) and at select businesses in Hamilton using their ’Gate Card. Learn more: colgate.edu/gatecard

Global Engagements. A component of the Liberal Arts Core Curriculum that requires taking one course that allows a student to analyze and debate the conditions and consequences of intercultural interaction, both in the United States and the broader world, to prepare them to confront responsibly the challenges of the 21st century. A Global Engagements course may also fulfill an Area of Inquiry or requirement for the student’s major or minor.

GPA (Grade Point Average). The GPA is calculated by averaging the numerical value of a  student's grade. The GPA is cumulative, and the higher the GPA, the better. Colgate grades range from a high of A+ (4.33) to failure, F (0.00).

Graduation requirements. Students must meet specific academic (curricular) requirements in order to graduate. These include a minimum cumulative GPA for all courses taken at Colgate as well as for all courses in their major, and completion of required courses in the Liberal Arts Core Curriculum, major, foreign language, and writing (if stipulated at admission). In addition, students must complete the physical education and residency requirements, and all financial obligations to the university must be satisfied. Learn more: colgate.edu/academic-regulations.

Health insurance waiver. The granting of an exemption from automatic enrollment in the Colgate University Student Health Insurance plan; students who reside in the United States may request a waiver by providing proof of health insurance coverage through a family policy. Learn more: colgate.edu/student-health-insurance.

Homecoming. A weekend of activities typically during the fall semester that bring alumni back to campus to celebrate pride in Colgate and to share their insight and expertise with students.  Events typically include career development programs, athletic contests, and a pep rally.

Honors. A designation upon graduation reflecting that a student has met certain academic requirements. These may include minimum grade point averages, completion of an honors seminar during which they must complete an honors paper or project for which they must receive a minimum grade, and/or an honors presentation/defense. 

Housing. This is Colgate’s term for “room” in relation to room and board charges. It is one of the billed charges.

Humanities. The academic subjects that study the human experience. At Colgate, these include art, the classics, East Asian languages and literatures, English, German, music, philosophy, religion, Romance languages and literatures, and theater.

Incomplete. The temporary status that is granted to a student when, as a result of extenuating circumstances beyond their control or ability to predict, they are unable to complete the work of a specific academic course by the end of the semester.

Independent study. An academic course undertaken by a student essentially of their own creation, under the supervision of a member of the faculty.

Internship. An opportunity for a student to gain experience, typically over the summer, that can help prepare them for their careers. Many summer internships are secured well in advance, so it is important for students to begin working with the Career Services department to identify opportunities during the fall semester.

Late fee. The amount of money charged on a monthly basis for past-due student account balances (1 percent of the balance or a minimum of $1.00).

Leave of absence. A temporary withdrawal from enrollment at Colgate, whether voluntary  (typically for significant physical or psychological challenges or extreme personal circumstances) or involuntary (due to conduct/disciplinary measures taken by the University).

Liberal Arts Core Curriculum. The set of courses and areas of study that all Colgate students must complete to develop fundamental skills and habits of mind. Students typically complete the majority of their core courses during their first four semesters.

Major. A chosen subject area that a student focuses on to gain a body of knowledge in depth through at least eight courses. Most majors are centered on a single discipline and supervised by one academic department. Others are interdisciplinary, meaning they permit students to study a subject that involves several departments. In most majors, students must complete a senior-level seminar or research course or independent study.

Master of Arts (MA), Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT). The two graduate degrees offered at Colgate.

Matriculate. To enroll at a college or university as a degree-seeking student. A student is formally considered having matriculated at Colgate at the start of the first term of attendance as a degree-seeking student. 

Meal plan. A method of purchasing meals for a student’s time on campus. First-year students, sophomores, and anyone living in traditional residence halls are automatically enrolled in a specific plan. Juniors and seniors who do not live in traditional residence halls and therefore typically have access to a kitchen are given meal plan purchase options, each based on a certain number of meals per week.

Minor. A secondary subject area of focused study (at least five courses) that can complement the major or allow a student to pursue a keen academic interest.

Moodle. A learning management system used by professors and students to distribute and receive academic course materials, syllabi, grades, and more during the semester. It is also used to share co-curricular information with students. Not all courses make use of Moodle.

Natural sciences. The academic subjects that examine and explain the physical world using information obtained through experimentation or observation (empirical evidence). At Colgate, these include biology, chemistry, computer science, earth and environmental geosciences, physics and astronomy, neuroscience, and psychological and brain sciences.

Non-domestic student. A student whose permanent home address is not in the United States.

Off-campus study. A specific program in which a student engages in academic coursework away from campus, whether for a full semester, a year, or a shorter period of time. Colgate offers full-semester programs led by Colgate faculty in specific subject areas and extended studies of just a few weeks and the opportunity to participate in approved programs at other institutions. Learn more at colgate.edu/off-campus-study

Orientation Link. Upper-level student staff members who help to orient new students to Colgate and prepare them for individual success. They increase new students’ familiarity with student life, faculty, academic expectations and opportunities, and the larger Hamilton community.

Payment plan. A method of spreading out college fees into installments paid over time instead of making one lump sum payment; for example, monthly or quarterly. Learn more: colgate.edu/financing.

Physical education. A graduation requirement that includes programs and courses that help develop their physical, social, mental, and environmental well-being.

Pre-orientation. A program taking place before new student orientation that helps students get acquainted with the Colgate community and/or gain new skills.
Prerequisite. A course that must be completed before an upper-level course can be enrolled in. 

Refund calculation. This is the calculation that will determine how much money will be returned to a student when they have taken a leave of absence or withdrawn from Colgate or a Colgate off-campus study program, mid-semester. The calculation is made according to the percentage of time enrolled, up to 60 percent of the enrollment period granted, after which no refund will be granted.

Registration. The act of signing up for the next semester’s courses. Prior to registration, students work with their academic advisers, who provide guidance for course selection.

Residential commons. Colgate’s residential system for supporting first-year and sophomore students through community building and intellectual engagement.

Residential life. The student’s experience outside of the classroom as it relates to their living environment on campus (housing). The department that deals with campus housing is the Office of Residential Life.

Reunion. The annual weekend in June when graduates return to campus to reconnect with each other and learn about Colgate of today.

Social sciences. The academic subjects that examine and explain human beings. At Colgate, these include economics, educational studies, geography, history, international relations, political science, and sociology and anthropology.

Sophomore. Any student who is enrolled in their second year and has completed at least six course credits. 

Student Accounts. Colgate maintains an account for each student that keeps track of all financial matters related to their enrollment (tuition, fees, room, meals, and study group fees) as well as miscellaneous charges such as library fines, parking fines, etc., using an online system called TouchNet. The Office of Student Accounts manages all related financial processes. Their staff can answer questions about a student’s account or the billing process. Information is also provided by this office, in conjunction with the Office of Financial Aid, to families who need to learn about the options available for financing a Colgate education.

Student Activity Fee. This fee is charged to all students to cover costs for student organizations and activities.

TouchNet. This is Colgate’s student account and billing system. Students and their designated authorized users use the system to view e-bills and student account activity; establish monthly payment plans; and make electronic payments.

Transcript. The formal and detailed record of a student’s courses and grades earned throughout their years at the school. Transcripts are part of a student’s education record and are subject to federal privacy regulations, so the student has considerable discretion on who is able to see their transcript and in many circumstances must provide signed consent for its release.

Transferring. The act of moving from one college or university to another after having completed some level of coursework at the first institution. Transferring is a decision that requires careful consideration and planning. Not every institution accepts all the credits earned at the prior institution, which can affect the timeline of a student’s academic progress towards their degree. As well, financial aid packages can vary widely among different schools, especially in relation to acceptance of transfer students. Students considering transferring to another institution should consult with their administrative dean and their academic adviser as soon as possible to understand the academic and financial implications. 

Tuition. Tuition is the price Colgate charges for taking classes and related academic services.

Tuition insurance. Tuition insurance is an optional policy that a student may wish to purchase. It provides an 80 percent refund of Colgate tuition, fees, and housing costs paid (that are not refunded by the school’s standard refund policy) in the event that a student must withdraw for medical reasons before a semester is completed. Learn more: colgate.edu/student-accounts.

Undergraduate. A student at a college or university who has not yet earned a bachelor’s degree or its equivalent. 

University Studies. Colgate’s division housing the Liberal Arts Core Curriculum, writing and rhetoric department, and the interdisciplinary programs in Africana and Latin American studies; Asian studies; environmental studies; film and media studies; global public and environmental health, Jewish studies; LGBTQ studies; linguistics; medieval and Renaissance studies; Middle Eastern and Islamic studies; museum studies; Native American studies; peace and conflict studies; Russian and Eurasian studies; women’s studies.