If you’re not familiar with the world of higher education, the terms and jargon can be practically a whole new language to learn and contend with. If you’re feeling a bit lost, don’t let that get you down. We’ve created a glossary to help you navigate the college landscape.

College Terms You Need to Know

College terminology can cover a lot of ground. To help narrow down your search, we broke these terms down into two categories:

Equity, Diversity, Inclusion Terms Glossary

Mitchell Tech seeks and values a diverse population and responds to the unique needs of individuals, recognizing the dignity and worth of all people and fostering a climate of respect among its students, faculty, staff, and administrators.

The following glossary, while not exhaustive, provides a starting point for defining important social justice terms.



A-Gender: Not identifying with any gender, the feeling of having no gender.

Ableism: Systemic and cultural power awarded to able-bodied/minded people at the expense of people who identify as disabled and/or are socially defined as having a disability.

Accessibility: Facilities: The extent to which a building or other facility is readily approachable and does not inhibit the mobility of individuals with disabilities.

Accessibility: (Curriculum/Programming): the extent to which curriculum and programming has been designed to accommodate the needs of individuals of all abilities, including cognitive, learning, and sensory.

Accessibility: (General): references the ability to gain access to an environment, location, curriculum, and/or programming for individuals with varying physical, cognitive, learning, and/or sensory needs.

Acculturation: The cultural modification of an individual, group, or people by adapting to or borrowing traits from another (generally dominant) culture.

Adultism: Prejudiced thoughts and discriminatory actions against young people, in favor of the older person(s).

Advocate: Someone who speaks up for themselves and members of their identity group, e.g., a person who lobbies for equal pay for a specific group.

Affirmative Action: Employment: Proactive efforts to achieve equal employment opportunity and eliminate the effects of past and present discrimination, particularly on the basis of race and gender. The intent is to identify barriers to equal opportunity, eliminate the effects of bias (both conscious and subconscious), and achieve parity with workforce demographics among available and qualified individuals. Affirmative action is not: quota systems, lowering of job standards, selection of unqualified candidates, or reverse discrimination.

African American: Refers to the ethnic group of Americans who come from African descent.

Ageism: Prejudiced thoughts and discriminatory actions based on differences in age; usually that of younger persons against older.

Ally: Someone who supports a group other than one’s own (in terms of multiple identities such as race, gender, age, ethnicity, sexual orientation, religion, etc.). An ally acknowledges oppression and actively commits to reducing their own complicity, investing in strengthening their own knowledge and awareness of oppression.

Androgyne: A person whose biological sex is not readily apparent, whether intentionally or unintentionally.

Androgynous: Someone who reflects an appearance that is both masculine and feminine, or who appears to be neither or both a male and a female.

Anti-Oppression: Recognizing and deconstructing the systemic, institutional, and personal forms of disempowerment used by certain groups over others; actively challenging the different forms of oppression. (Center for Anti-Oppressive Education)

Anti-Racist: Being critically aware of the existence of racism and understanding how it is systemic. An anti-racist person actively seeks to acknowledge the impacts of racism.

Anti‐Semitism: The fear or hatred of Jews, Judaism, and related symbols.

Asexuality: Little or no romantic, emotional and/or sexual attraction toward other persons. Asexual could be described as non-sexual, but asexuality is different from celibacy, which is a choice to not engage in sexual behaviors with another person.

Assigned Sex: What a doctor determines to be your physical sex birth based on the appearance of one’s primary sex characteristics.

Assimilation: Taking on the traits of another culture, leaving the culture of origin behind. Generally, assimilation is discussed in a context of taking on the traits of a dominant culture at the expense of a subordinated culture or culture of origin.


Bias: An inclination or preference either for or against an individual or group that interferes with impartial judgment. Bias can be conscious or unconscious and is a product of socialization and life experiences that shape our perceptions and judgments.

Bigot: A person who is obstinately devoted to his or her own opinions and prejudices and intolerant towards other diverse social groups.

Biphobia: The fear or hatred of homosexuality (and other non‐heterosexual identities), and persons perceived to be bisexual.

Biracial: A person who identifies as coming from two races. A person whose biological parents are of two different races.

Bisexual: A romantic, sexual, or/and emotional attraction toward people of all sexes. A person who identifies as bisexual is understood to have attraction to male and female identified persons. However, it can also mean female attraction and non-binary, or other identifiers. It is not restricted to only cis identifiers.

BIPOC: An acronym used to refer to black, Indigenous, and people of color. It is based on the recognition of collective experiences of systemic racism. As with any other identity term, it is up to individuals to use this term as an identifier.

Brave Space: Honors and invites full engagement from folks who are vulnerable while also setting the expectation that there could be an oppressive moment that the facilitator and allies have a responsibility to address.

Bystander: A person who is present at an event or incident but does not take part.

Bystander Effect: Phenomenon in which someone is less likely to intervene in an emergency situation when others are present than when they are alone.


Cisgender: A term for people whose gender identity, expression, or behavior aligns with those typically associated with their assigned sex at birth.

Civility: At its most basic level, civility refers to showing others kindness, courtesy, and respect. Digging a little deeper, civility is about constantly being open to listen, to learn, to teach and to change. It seeks common ground as a beginning point for dialogue and actions when differences occur, while at the same time recognizing that differences enrich our community.

Classism: Classism is differential treatment based on social class or perceived socio-economic class. It is the systematic oppression of subordinated class groups to advantage and strengthen the dominant class groups (this includes systems of policies and practices that are set up to benefit the upper classes at the expense of the lower classes, resulting in drastic wealth and income inequality). It is also the systematic assignment of characteristics of worth and ability based on social class.

Color Blind: The belief that everyone should be treated “equally” without respect to societal, economic, historical, racial, or other differences. No differences are seen or acknowledged; everyone is the same.

Conformity: The process by which people’s beliefs or behaviors are influenced by others, via subtle even unconscious processes or by direct and overt peer pressure. It is a group behavior. Factors such as group size, cohesion, status, prior commitment, presence of authority, and public opinion all help determine the level of conformity an individual will reflect toward his/her group.

Culture: A social system of meaning and custom that is developed by a group of people to assure its adaptation and survival. These groups are distinguished by a set of unspoken rules that shape values, beliefs, habits, patterns of thinking, behaviors, and styles of communication.

Cultural Appropriation: The non-consensual/misappropriation use of cultural elements for commodification or profit purposes – including symbols, art, language, customs, etc. — often without understanding, acknowledgment, or respect for its value in the original culture.

Cultural Competence: Refers to an individual’s or an organization’s knowledge and understanding of different cultures and perspectives. It is a measure of an individual’s or a workforce’s ability to work with people of different nationalities, ethnicities, languages, and religions. In short, it is the ability to interact effectively with people from different cultures. This ability depends on awareness of one’s own cultural worldview, knowledge of other cultural practices and worldviews, tolerant attitudes towards cultural differences, and cross-cultural skills. (Dr. Richard T. Alpert, Ph.D.)

It involves knowledge, awareness and interpersonal skills that allow individuals to increase their understanding, sensitivity, appreciation and responsiveness to cultural differences and the interactions resulting from them. It is a process of learning that leads to the ability of an organization and/or employees to collaborate in a diverse work environment by effectively responding to the challenges and opportunities posed by the presence of social cultural diversity. (The National Multicultural Institute)

Cultural Intelligence (CQ): The capability to adapt, relate and work effectively across cultures. People with high CQ are not experts in every kind of culture. Instead, they have the skills to go into new environments with confidence, and to make informed judgments based on observations and evidence as opposed to stereotypes and biases. They recognize shared influences among particular groups. Developing CQ allows one to be attuned to the values, beliefs, and attitudes of people from different cultures and to respond with informed empathy and real understanding. (Cultural Intelligence by Christopher Earley and Soon Ang)

Cultural Pluralism: Recognition of the contribution of each group to a common civilization. It encourages the maintenance and development of different lifestyles, languages, and convictions. It strives to create conditions of harmony and respect within a culturally diverse society. (Institute for Democratic Renewal and Project Change)

Cultural Sensitivity: being aware that cultural differences and similarities between people exist without assigning them a value. (Southeastern University). Cultural sensitivity skills can ensure the ability to work effectively alongside people with differing cultural attitudes and behaviors.



Decolonize: The active and intentional process of unlearning values, beliefs, and conceptions that have caused physical, emotional, or mental harm to people through colonization. It requires recognition of systems of oppression.

Disability: A permanent or temporary mental, physical, cognitive, or developmental impairment which substantially limits one or more of the major life activities of such individual. Under applicable laws, a person who has a past record of having had a disability, or who is regarded by others having a disability, qualifies for protection under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Discrimination: Unfair treatment (including intent to deny or limit access or participation) or denial of rights based on a person’s race, skin color, ethnicity, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, religion, national origin, ancestry, disability, pregnancy, marital or parental status, religion, age, arrest record, conviction record, military service, veteran status or other legally protected identity/status. Different state and federal laws may not grant the same protections to all individuals in all circumstances based on all of the above identity characteristics.

Diversity: Socially, it refers to the wide range of identities. It broadly includes race, ethnicity, gender, age, national origin, religion, disability, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, education, marital status, language, veteran status, physical appearance, etc. It also involves differing ideas, experiences, abilities, worldviews/perspectives, and values.


Ethnicity: A category of people who identify with each other, usually on the basis of a presumed common genealogy or ancestry or on similarities such as common language, history, society, culture or nation.

Equal Opportunity: A system of employment or educational practices under which individuals are not excluded from any participation, advancement or benefits due to race, color, creed, religion, age, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, national origin, ancestry, disability, pregnancy, marital or parental status or any other action which cannot lawfully be the basis for limiting equal access.

Equality: The state of being equal, especially in status, rights, and opportunities.

Equity:  The fair and just treatment, access, opportunity, and advancement for all people, while at the same time striving to identify and eliminate barriers that have prevented the full participation of some groups. The principle of equity acknowledges that there are historically underserved and underrepresented populations and that fairness regarding these unbalanced conditions is needed to assist in the provision of adequate opportunities to all groups.  Equality means getting the same, equity means getting what is fair.

Ethnocentricity: Considered by some to be an attitude that views one’s own culture as superior. Others cast it as “seeing things from the point of view of one’s own ethnic group” without the necessary connotation of superiority.

Eurocentric: The inclination to consider European culture as normative. While the term does not imply an attitude of superiority (since all cultural groups have the initial right to understand their own culture as normative), most use the term with a clear awareness of the historic oppressiveness of Eurocentric tendencies in the United States and European society.


Feminism: The advocacy of women’s rights on the ground of equality of the sexes.


Gay: A person who is emotionally, romantically, or sexually attracted to members of the same gender.

Gender: The socially constructed concepts of masculinity and femininity; the “appropriate” qualities accompanying biological sex.

Gender Bending: Dressing or behaving in such a way as to question the traditional feminine or masculine qualities assigned to articles of clothing, jewelry, mannerisms, activities, etc.

Gender Dysphoria (gender identity disorder): Significant clinical distress caused when a person’s assigned birth gender differs from the one with which they identify. The American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) consider gender identity disorder as “intended to better characterize the experiences of affected children, adolescents, and adults.”

Gender Expression: A person’s behaviors, mannerisms, interests, and appearance that are associated with gender in a particular cultural context.

Gender Identity: Distinct from the term “sexual orientation,” refers to a person’s internal sense of being male, female, or something else. Since gender identity is internal, one’s gender identity is not necessarily visible to others.

Gender-Neutral: used to denote a unisex or all-gender inclusive space, language, etc. Examples: a gender-neutral bathroom is a bathroom open to people of any gender identity and expression; gender-neutral job descriptions are used to attract qualified, diverse candidates.

Gender Non-conforming: An individual whose gender expression is different from societal expectations related to gender.



Harassment: The use of comments or actions that can be offensive, embarrassing, humiliating, demeaning, and unwelcoming to an individual or a group of individuals.  Harassment can be verbal, written, graphic or physical in nature.  It must be severe or pervasive as to interfere with an individual’s employment, education, or academic environment or participation in institution programs or activities. Harassment creates a working, learning, program or activity environment that a reasonable person would find intimidating, offensive or hostile.

To constitute prohibited harassment, the conduct must be both objectively and subjectively harassing in nature. Harassment may include but is not limited to verbal or physical attacks, threats, slurs or derogatory or offensive comments that meet the definition set forth herein. Harassment does not have to be targeted at a particular individual in order to create a harassing environment, nor must the conduct result in a tangible injury to be considered a violation of this policy. Whether the alleged conduct constitutes prohibited harassment depends on the totality of the particular circumstances, including the nature, frequency and duration of the conduct in question, the location and context in which it occurs, and the status of the individuals involved.

Hate Crime: A criminal act-such as vandalism, arson, assault, or murder-committed against a person or persons because of their real or perceived race, religion, sexual orientation, ethnicity, disability, age, gender, or other protected status. Hate crime laws typically increase the punishment applicable to the underlying criminal act, on the grounds that the act was motivated by bias.

Hazing: Verbal and physical testing, often of newcomers into a society or group, that may range from practical joking to tests of physical and mental endurance. (The National Multicultural Institute)

Hermaphrodite: An individual having the reproductive organs and many of the secondary sex characteristics of both sexes. (Not a preferred term. See: Intersex)

Heterosexism: The presumption that everyone is, and should be, heterosexual.

Heterosexuality: An enduring romantic, emotional and/or sexual attraction toward people of the other sex. The term “straight” is commonly used to refer to heterosexual people.

Heterosexual: Attracted to members of other or the opposite sex.

Hispanic: The U.S. Census Bureau defines Hispanic as people who classified themselves as Spanish, Hispanic, or Latino categories, which also included the subgroups Mexican, Mexican American, Chicano, Puerto Rican or Cuban. (The National Multicultural Institute)

Homophobia: The interpersonal and institutional devaluing and dehumanizing of lesbian, gay, or bisexual people, or more generally with people whose sexual orientations are or are perceived to be non-heterosexual.

Homosexual: Attracted to members of the same sex. (Not a preferred term. See Gay, Lesbian)


Implicit Bias: Sometimes called unconscious bias, it includes the attitudes or stereotypes that affect our understanding, actions, and decisions in an unconscious manner. These biases, which encompass both favorable and unfavorable assessments, are activated involuntarily and without an individual’s awareness or intentional control. Residing deep in the subconscious, these biases are different from known biases that individuals may choose to conceal for the purposes of social and/or political correctness. Rather, implicit biases are not accessible through introspection.

Inclusion: The act of creating environments in which any individual or group can be and feel welcomed, respected, supported, and valued as a fully participating member. An inclusive and welcoming climate embraces differences and offers respect in words and actions for all people.

Inclusive Language: Words or phrases that include all potential audiences from any identity group. Inclusive language does not assume or connote the absence of any group. An example of gender inclusive language is using “police officers” instead of “policemen”.

Inclusivity: The quality of trying to include many different types of people and treat them all fairly and equally. Inclusive organizations fully value different perspectives and reflect the interests of diverse members throughout all levels and aspects of the organization. Full inclusion implies dialogue and sharing of power between members of all subgroups.

Indigenous People: Individuals of specific cultural groups who live within (or are attached to) distinct traditional territories.

Institutional Racism: Institutional racism refers specifically to the ways in which institutional policies and practices create different outcomes and opportunities for different groups based on racial discrimination.

Internalized Homophobia: Among lesbians, gay men, and bisexuals, internalized sexual stigma (also called internalized homophobia) refers to the personal acceptance and endorsement of sexual stigma as part of the individual’s value system and self-concept. It is the counterpart to sexual prejudice among heterosexuals.

Internalized Oppression: The process whereby individuals in the target group make oppression internal and personal by coming to believe that the lies, prejudices, and stereotypes about them are true. Members of target groups exhibit internalized oppression when they alter their attitudes, behaviors, speech, and self-confidence to reflect the stereotypes and norms of the dominant group. Internalized oppression can create low self-esteem, self-doubt, and even self-loathing. It can also be projected outward as fear, criticism, and distrust of members of one’s target group.

Internalized Racism: When individuals from targeted racial groups internalize racist beliefs about themselves or members of their racial group. Examples include using creams to lighten one’s skin, believing that white leaders are inherently more competent, asserting that individuals of color are not as intelligent as white individuals, believing that racial inequality is the result of individuals of color not raising themselves up “by their bootstraps”. (Jackson & Hardiman, 1997)

Intersectionality: A social construct that recognized the fluid diversity of identities that a person can hold such as gender, race, class, religion, professional status, marital status, socioeconomic status, etc. Intersectionality considers that various forms of oppression, such as racism, sexism, heterosexism, classism, ageism, and ableism, do not exist separately from each other but are interwoven together.

Intersex: An umbrella term describing people born with reproductive or sexual anatomy and/or chromosome pattern that can’t be classified as typically male or female.

“Isms”: A way of describing any attitude, action or institutional structure that subordinates (oppresses) a person or group because of their target group. For example, color (racism), gender (sexism), economic status (classism), older age (ageism), religion (e.g., anti-Semitism), sexual orientation (heterosexism), language/immigrant status (xenophobism), etc.


LGBTQIA: An inclusive term for those who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, and asexual.

Latinx/o/a/e: Used to describe people and cultural of Latin American descent.

Lesbian: A woman who is attracted to other women. Also used as an adjective describing such women.


Marginalization: The placement of minority groups and cultures outside mainstream society. All that varies from the norm of the dominant culture is devalued and at times perceived as deviant and regressive.

Microaggression: Microaggressions are brief and commonplace everyday exchanges that communicate hostile, derogatory, denigrating, or negative slights and insults to certain individuals because of their group membership. The persons making the comments may otherwise be well-intentioned and unaware of the potential impact of their words. There are three categories of microaggressions: micro assaults, microinsults, microinvalidations. The term was first coined by African American Harvard psychiatrist Chester Pierce in 1970.

Micro-inequity: Subtle, often unconscious, messages and behavior that devalue, discourage, and impair workplace performance. It can appear as individuals who are overlooked, singled out or ignored and is based on characteristics such as race, gender, ability, etc. Micro-inequities can be conveyed through facial expressions, gestures, tone of voice/choice of words. The term coined in 1973 by MIT professor Mary Rowe.

Microinsults: Communications that subtly exclude, negate or nullify the thoughts, feelings or experiential reality of marginalized individuals.

Microinvalidations: Verbal and nonverbal communications that subtly convey rudeness and insensitivity and demean a person’s racial heritage or identity.

Minoritized Group: Usually a marginalized group of people distinctive by ethnicity, race, color, economic class, gender identity or expression, nationality, sex, ability, or religion. While a minority in strictly numerical terms is any subgroup that constitutes less than half of the whole group. In practice, a minoritized group is any group disadvantaged directly or indirectly by existing policies and social practices or having little power or representation relative to other groups within a society. (For example, even if women constitute a numerical majority in an organization or classroom, men may still exercise greater power in that space as a result of male privilege.) Under certain laws, “minority” is defined with reference to specific racial/ethnic groups: black, Hispanic, Asian or Pacific Islander, American Indian or Alaskan Native.

Multicultural: The multidimensionality of people based on different cultural attributes. In diversity work it means valuing the differences of others and creating an environment that does not require assimilation. Like “diverse,” this term should ideally not be used to single out those individuals who are different from a perceived “norm” (e.g. “multicultural students” as a synonym for “students of color”). However, “multicultural” may be used to refer to organizations or groups that explicitly embrace the values of multiculturalism in their work.

Multicultural Competency: A process of embracing diversity and learning about people from other cultural backgrounds. The key element to becoming more culturally competent is respect for the ways that others live in and organize the world, and an openness to learn from them.


Non-Binary/Gender Queer/Gender Variant: Terms used by some people who experience their gender identity and/or gender expression as falling outside the categories of man and woman.

Non-White: Used at times to reference all persons or groups outside of the white culture, often in the clear consciousness that white culture should be seen as an alternative to various non-white cultures and not as normative.

Neurodiversity: Refers to the variation in the human brain regarding sociability, learning, attention, mood, and other mental functions.


Oppression: The prolonged systemic and pervasive nature of social inequality woven throughout social institutions as well as embedded within individual consciousness. Oppression fuses institutional and systemic discrimination, personal bias, bigotry, and social prejudice in a complex web of relationships and structures. Examples are racism, sexism, heterosexism, classism, ageism, ableism. Oppression = prejudice + power.


Pan-Sexual: A term referring to the potential for sexual attractions or romantic love toward people of all gender identities and biological sexes. The concept of pansexuality deliberately rejects the gender binary and derives its origin from the transgender movement.

Patriarchy: Actions and beliefs that prioritizes masculinity. Patriarchy is practiced systemically in the ways and methods through which power is distributed in society (jobs and positions of power given to men in government, policy, criminal justice, etc.) while also influencing how we interact with one another interpersonally (gender expectations, sexual dynamics, space-taking, etc.).

People of Color: A collective term for men and women of Asian, African, Latinx, and Native American backgrounds as opposed to the collective “White”.

Prejudice: An inclination or preference, especially one that interferes with impartial judgment and can be rooted in stereotypes that deny the right of individual members of certain groups to be recognized and treated as individuals with individual characteristics. (Prejudice can be unconscious or intentional.)

Privilege: A right, advantage, or immunity granted to or enjoyed by members of a given category of people (based on race, color, religion, class, gender, sexual orientation, ability, etc.) that is not available to people outside that category; an exemption in many cases from certain burdens or liabilities.



Queer: An umbrella term that can refer to anyone who transgresses society’s view of gender or sexuality. The definitional indeterminacy of the word Queer, its elasticity, is one of its constituent characteristics: “A zone of possibilities.”

Questioning: A term used to refer to an individual who is uncertain of their sexual orientation or identity.


Race: A social construct that artificially divides people into distinct groups based on characteristics such as physical appearance (particularly color), ancestral heritage, cultural affiliation, cultural history, ethnic classification, and the social, economic, and political needs of a society at a given period of time.

Racism: The systematic discrimination and exploitation of human beings based solely on race.


Safe Space: Refers to an environment in which everyone feels comfortable expressing themselves and participating fully, without fear of attack, ridicule, or denial of experience.

Sex: Sex is a social category that is assigned based on a series of perceived and/or actual physical characteristics that include chromosomes, genitalia, and hormone levels. Sex includes categories such as female, male, and intersex. Within the United States, there exist varying criteria between different state and administrative agencies on determining an individual’s sex.

Sexism: Sexism is prejudice or discrimination based on sex or gender. It’s a system of attitudes, beliefs, stereotypes, and other types of bias that discriminate on the basis of real or perceived sex.

Sexual Orientation: An individual’s enduring physical, romantic, and/or emotional attraction to another person. Gender identity and sexual orientation are not the same. Transgender people may be straight, lesbian, gay, or bisexual.

Social Justice: Social justice generally refers to the idea of creating an equitable and egalitarian society or institution that is based on the principles of justice, equality and solidarity, that understands and values human rights, and that recognizes the dignity of every human being.

Stereotyping: A preconceived or oversimplified generalization usually resulting in negative beliefs about a particular group. We may pick this up from what we hear other people say, what we read, and what people around us believe.

Stereotype: A form of generalization rooted in blanket beliefs and false assumptions, a product of processes of categorization that can result in a prejudiced attitude, uncritical judgment, and intentional or unintentional discrimination. Stereotypes are typically negative, based on little information that does not recognize individualism and personal agency.

Structural Inequality: Systemic disadvantage(s) of one social group compared to other groups, rooted and perpetuated through discriminatory practices (conscious or unconscious) that are reinforced through institutions, ideologies, representations, policies/laws, and practices. When this kind of inequality is related to racial/ethnic discrimination, it is referred to as systemic or structural racism.

System of Oppression: Conscious and unconscious, non-random, and organized harassment, discrimination, exploitation, discrimination, prejudice, and other forms of unequal treatment that impacts different groups. Sometimes is used to refer to systemic racism.

Systemic Racism: Complex interactions of culture, policy, and institutions that create and maintain racial inequality in nearly every facet of life for people of color.


Title IX: Title IX of the Education Amendments Act of 1972 is a federal law that states: “No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.”

Tokenism: Presence without meaningful participation. For example, a superficial invitation for the participation of members of a certain socially oppressed group, who are expected to speak for the whole group without giving this person a real opportunity to speak for her/himself.

Tolerance: The capacity for or the practice of recognizing and respecting the beliefs or practices of others. The ability or willingness to tolerate something, particularly the existence of opinions or behavior that one does not necessarily agree with. Tolerance is one step on the progression from ignorance/rejection to acceptance/embrace.

Transgender/Trans: An umbrella term for people whose gender identity differs from the sex they were assigned at birth. The term transgender is not indicative of gender expression, sexual orientation, hormonal makeup, physical anatomy, or how one is perceived in daily life.

Transphobia: Transphobia is the interpersonal and institutional devaluing and dehumanizing of transgender, non-binary, and/or gender non-conforming people.

Two Spirit: An umbrella term for a wide range of non-binary culturally recognized gender identities and expressions among Indigenous people. A Native American term for individuals who identify both as male and female. In western culture, these individuals are identified as lesbian, gay, bi‐sexual or trans-gendered.


Whiteness: A broad social construction that embraces the white culture, history, ideology, racialization, expressions, and economic, experiences, epistemology, and emotions and behaviors and nonetheless reaps material, political, economic, and structural benefits for those socially deemed white.

White Fragility: Discomfort and defensiveness on the part of a white person when confronted by information about racial inequality and injustice.

White Privilege: White Privilege is the spillover effect of racial prejudice and White institutional power. It means, for example, that a White person in the United States has privilege, simply because one is White. It means that as a member of the dominant group a White person has greater access or availability to resources because of being White. It means that White ways of thinking and living are seen as the norm against which all people of color are compared. Life is structured around those norms for the benefit of White people. White privilege is the ability to grow up thinking that race does not matter. It is not having to daily think about skin color and the questions, looks, and hurdles that need to be overcome because of one’s color. White Privilege may be less recognizable to some White people because of gender, age, sexual orientation, economic class or physical or mental ability, but it remains a reality because of one’s membership in the White dominant group.

White Supremacy: A power system structured and maintained by persons who classify themselves as white, whether consciously or subconsciously determined; and who feel superior to those of other racial/ethnic identities.

The terms contained in this glossary have been reproduced or adapted from the following websites and print sources:

  • Anti-Violence Project Glossary, University of Victoria.  
  • Definitions for the Revolution, Colors of Resistance.
  • Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Glossary, UC Davis.
  • Equity, Diversity & Inclusion Glossary of Terms, Pacific University Oregon.
  • Glossary of Bias Terms, Washington University in St. Louis Center for Diversity & Inclusion.
  • Glossary of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Terms, Seramount (Part of EAB).
  • Glossary of Human Rights Terms, Ontario Human Rights Commission.
  • Inclusive Language Terminology, Texas Tech.
  • Racial Resource Guide, W.K. Kellogg Foundation.
  • Cram, R. H. (2002). Teaching for diversity and social justice: A sourcebook
  • Potapchuk, M., Leiderman, S., et al. (2009). Glossary. Center for Assessment and Policy Development

Mitchell Technical College Definitions List

Following are some terms (listed alphabetically) that you might hear while researching colleges and throughout your time enrolled. Definitions may vary slightly by institution, so be sure to ask for clarification if needed.



Academic Advisor  An academic mentor (usually a faculty member) who guides students through their degree, making sure they are taking the right courses and helping them make important academic decisions.

Academic Suspension  A status Mitchell Tech gives to students whose career Grade Point Average is below 2.0 for two consecutive semesters. Students on academic suspension are not able to enroll in classes in the following semester. Students may appeal their suspension and, if granted, may enroll with conditions in place for improvement of grades. 

Academic Warning  A status Mitchell Tech gives to students whose career GPA falls below 2.0 at the end of any semester. Students on academic warning are required to take steps to improve grades.

Accredited  An accredited university or college is certified to provide a high-quality education in the United States. Most employers and graduate programs only consider degrees from accredited schools.

Accuplacer – A standardized test that assesses college readiness. The Accuplacer can be used in place of the ACT for admission and is usually administered once a student applies to Mitchell Tech.

ACT  A standardized test used by colleges to help determine if they will admit a student or not. The ACT is typically taken in the spring of the junior year of high school and/or the fall of the senior year of high school.

Add/Drop Period  A grace period at the beginning of each semester during which students can decide to add or drop a course with no penalty. Courses at Mitchell Tech can be added within the first five days of the semester. Courses can be dropped within the first ten days for a full refund and no grade on transcript.

Akademos  The online bookstore platform used by Mitchell Tech.

Application  This is the term for all the materials students will fill out and submit to apply for admission to a college.

Articulation Agreement  An agreement that guarantees transferability of earned credit from one college to another.

Associate of Applied Science Degree  A two-year degree offered at community and technical colleges and vocational schools. Designed for students going directly into the workforce after degree completion.

Audit – An option that allows a student to take or retake a course they’re interested in without earning credit or without having the grade affect their GPA.  This is a lower cost option since no college credit is earned during a course audit.


Bachelor’s Degree – A 4-year degree, usually in the form of either a Bachelor of Arts (in a Liberal Arts program) or Bachelor of Science (in an applied learning program such as engineering). Mitchell Tech does not award bachelor’s degrees, but some programs have articulation agreements with 4-year institutions that use Mitchell Tech credits to earn a bachelor’s degree. Learn more here:

Build Dakota Scholarship – Scholarship awarded to students entering high-need workforce programs at South Dakota technical colleges. Learn more here:


Campus Visit – An opportunity for prospective students and family members to visit the campus and learn more about programs and services. A campus visit usually includes a tour to see the facilities and is a chance to meet faculty and ask questions.

Career GPA/Cumulative GPA – GPA stands for grade point average and reflects your student’s academic achievement at school. The GPA is updated after each semester’s grades are finalized and reported. Career or cumulative GPA is the average of all grades received in all classes taken during the student’s academic career at the institution.

Career Services – Mitchell Tech has a career services department where students can get career advice and assistance in finding internships and career opportunities for after graduation.

Co-ed – Refers to any program, dormitory, or activity that includes all genders. This term is typically used to describe dorms that have both boys and girls living on the same floor.

College Fair – Where high school students can go to meet with representatives from different colleges and learn about what each school has to offer. College fairs are typically held at high schools, community facilities, and conference centers and are usually in early fall and spring.

Commencement – A graduation ceremony for high school or college students.

Community College – A school that typically requires only a high school degree to attend, with no further requirements. Students can take single courses or pursue associate degrees at community colleges. Often, credits from a community college can be transferred to a 4-year university.

Course Load – The number of courses, or total credit hours, a student takes in any given semester.

Credit Hour – Each course is assigned a certain number of credit hours, usually corresponding to how often class occurs and how long classes are, as well as the course difficulty. Many classes earn a student 3 to 4 credit hours.



Dean – The head or president of a college or university or a department within a college or university.

Degree – A degree is the end result of a college education. It is awarded when a student earns a certain number of qualifying credit hours. Examples of degrees include Associate of Arts, Associate of Science, Associate of Applied Science, Bachelor of Science, Bachelor of Arts, Master of Business Administration, and more.

Divisions – Refers to program categories at Mitchell Tech. Divisions are aligned within areas of study, such as the Business and Service Industries, Health Sciences, Energy Production and Transmission, Engineering Technologies, Agriculture & Transportation Technologies, and Construction & Manufacturing Technologies.

Diploma – Refers to completion of classes and hands on training in a field of study. Generally takes less than one year to complete.

Distance Learning – Also known as online classes, this term refers to classes taken remotely, away from the college which offers the classes. 

Double-Edge Scholarship – A partner scholarship between an employer and the Build Dakota Scholarship.  Learn more here:

Drop – When a student leaves a course during the add/drop grace period, it is referred to as dropping. There is no penalty for dropping a course during the grace period. Students may decide to drop because they are overwhelmed by their course load or want to take a different class. This is different than withdrawing, which comes after the add/drop period is over.

Dual Credit – Credits taken by the student in high school that meet requirements of both secondary and post-secondary education.


Electives – Mitchell Tech requires students to complete a combination of specific and elective courses. Electives are courses the student chooses to take from a list of offerings that fulfill general education or program requirements.


Faculty – The staff of teachers at a university or college.

FAFSA – Stands for Free Application for Federal Student Aid. This is the first step in applying for financial aid, and most colleges require incoming students to complete the FAFSA form. (MTC does not require the FAFSA application for most students, but it is highly encouraged. Build Dakota and DoubleEdge recipients will be required to complete the FAFSA.)

FERPA – Stands for Federal Educational Rights and Privacy Act. This act gives college students the right of privacy over their school records, even if they’re under 18. This means parents and others cannot access a student’s academic information, such as grades, without the student’s express permission. There is an exception for health and safety information: If a college feels it would be important to share that sort of information with others, they are allowed to.

Financial Aid – Refers to any type of student loan, scholarship, or grant a student receives to help pay for college.

Financial Need – This is determined by the difference between the cost of college and the student’s ability to pay for it. Typically, this takes into account the ability of the student’s parents to help pay for school, as well.

First Generation College Student – A student who is the first in their family to attend college. The term first generation college student typically refers to a student whose parents didn’t earn a college degree.  

Full-Time College Student – A student who is taking a full course load, typically 12 or more credits.


Gap Year – A year-long break between high school and college.

General Education Requirements – General education requirements are intended to ensure all students receive a broad education, with knowledge of topics outside of their chosen field of study.

GPA – Stands for grade point average and reflects a student’s academic achievement at school. Term GPA reflects the student’s academic achievement in the semester. The Career/Cumulative GPA is updated after each semester’s grades are finalized and reported.



HIPAA Release Form – The Health Information Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) gives a student a right over the privacy of their medical records when they turn 18. A HIPAA Release Form gives parents the ability to access their child’s medical records and make important medical decisions for them in the case of an emergency.

Homesickness – A term for the emotional stress students undergo when they miss being home. Homesickness is most common in the beginning of the first year, when many students live away from home for the first time in their life. Homesickness can be associated with college depression.

Honors – A distinction earned by students upon completion of a program when a certain GPA has been maintained throughout enrollment. At Mitchell Tech, students earning an Associate of Applied Science degree with a career GPA of 3.75 or higher graduate with High Honors and students with career GPAs between 3.50 and 3.74 graduate with Honors.

Hold – A hold prevents a student from registering for the following term classes. Reasons for a hold may include a balance due or poor academic status. Institutions may elect to place registration holds if students have not completed required tasks. Holds may also be placed on a student’s diploma or transcript if there is a tuition balance due or other unfinished business with the institution.


Independent Study – A type of non-traditional course that allows students to work outside of the classroom. Independent study is usually not heavily supervised, and the student develops the topic they wish to pursue.

In-State Student – A status conferred onto students who have established residence in the same state as the college they are attending. At many institutions, in-state students pay much less in tuition than nonresident students. Mitchell Tech, however, charges the same tuition for in-state and nonresident students.

Internship – An internship is a short-term job, usually for the summer or a semester, that a student takes to get experience in their field of study. An internship can sometimes lead to a job offer.


Lecture – The term for a class that does not entail lab work.


Major – The primary focus of study in a degree. For example, a student might major in biology, philosophy, or aerospace engineering. At Mitchell Tech, majors are referred to as programs.

Matriculate (Matriculation) – Enrollment at a college or university.

Matriculation Fee – Mitchell Tech charges a $60 non-refundable matriculation fee upon successful completion of the application process.

Midterms – Exams that occur in the middle of a semester, to test a student’s grasp of topics covered in a course up to that point. Midterms are typically weighted more heavily than other tests and coursework, but not as heavily as finals.

Minor – A secondary focus of study, typically earned in tandem with a major. A student, for example, might graduate with a major in biology and a minor in chemistry. Mitchell Tech does not offer minors.


Nonresident – Status applied to students who do not live in the same state as the university or college they’re attending. Nonresidents usually pay much higher tuition than in-state students. Mitchell Tech charges the same tuition for in-state and nonresident students.


Orientation – College orientation is a chance for a student to go to their college before the first year begins to get a tour of the campus and ask questions.


Part Time College Student – A student who does not have a full course load. A student taking fewer than 12 credit hours but at least 6 credit hours in any given semester is typically considered a part time college student.

Pass/Fail Course – A class in which no grade is given — a student simply passes or fails.  

Plagiarism – Copying some or all of someone else’s work and claiming it as your own. Plagiarism is taken seriously in college and could result in an F, academic probation, or expulsion.

Pre-Requisite – A course a student must complete before taking another specific course. For example, Calculus 1 is a pre-requisite to Calculus 2 — a student can’t take the latter without having passed the former.

President’s List – A list of students who have achieved high academic excellence at the end of each semester. At Mitchell Tech, full-time students earning a 3.5 or higher GPA are named to the President’s List.

PSAT – Stands for Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test. It’s a Pre-SAT, which serves to give high school students a chance to practice for the real deal. It’s typically taken in the sophomore or junior year of high school.



Registration – The period in which a student can sign up for the classes they wish to take in a semester.

Room and Board – The price paid to cover on-campus living and meal plan expenses, usually paid for a semester or year at a time. Mitchell Tech does not offer on-campus living or meal plans.


SAT – Stands for the Scholastic Aptitude Test. Like the ACT, it is used by many schools to determine a prospective student’s eligibility. It is usually taken in the spring semester of the junior year of high school and can be retaken in the fall of the senior year of high school.

Scholarship – A financial award to help a student pay for college.

Semester – A half year of college. There is a fall semester and a spring semester. Some schools including MTC offer a shorter summer semester. Most courses are one semester long.

Student Essay – A personal essay submitted as part of a college application, typically written on the subject of why a student believes they should be accepted to the school.

STEM – Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. STEM is used to refer to this general field of study.

Student Success Coach – A Mitchell Tech staff member who personally guides students through their college experience. Success coaches may also help a student choose the right courses, degree, internships, and more to reach that goal.

Syllabus – A general summary of a course handed out to students at the beginning of a semester.


TEAS Exam – The ATI TEAS (Test of Essential Academic Skills) Exam measures basic skills in reading, math, science, and English. The TEAS exam is used to measure entry-level academic readiness for some health science programs. At Mitchell Tech, Licensed Practical Nursing (LPN) and Radiologic Technology students are required to take the TEAS exam for admission.

Test Out – Students may be allowed to receive credit by taking a “test out exam” for certain courses. At Mitchell Tech, students pay a non-refundable fee to attempt the test out exam in MATH 103 and/or CIS 105. Those scoring 80% or higher earn a ‘test out’ and are exempt from taking the course. No grade is awarded.

Transcript – A transcript is a record of a student’s academic progress — it usually includes courses, GPA and total credit hours. Most postsecondary institutions (and some employers) require an “official” transcript to verify a student’s academic credentials.

Transfer Credits – Credits that can be transferred from one school and applied toward a degree at another.

Tuition and Fees – The amount paid to attend a college. 


Undergraduate – An undergraduate is any student pursuing a diploma, associate, or bachelor’s degree.  


Virtual Tour – When you can’t do a campus visit, a virtual tour is often an option. This is a tour hosted online, either through an interactive website or as part of a live video stream presented by the institution.


Wait List – A list of prospective students who have not been officially accepted to an institution but could still be in the coming months. Being put on a wait list is a way for a college to tell a student that they may be accepted in the future, depending on if they still have openings as the beginning of the school year nears. Prospective Mitchell Tech students may be wait listed if the desired program is full at the time the application is completed.

Withdraw – If a student leaves a course after the add/drop period is over, it is called a withdraw. While withdrawal does not affect a student’s GPA, it is shown on their transcript as a ‘W’. Withdraw can also refer to term withdrawal, in which a student stops taking all their courses for the rest of a semester.

Work Study Program – A federal program which provides universities and colleges with funding to hire students for part-time jobs to help them pay for school while they attend.