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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.

A–C  |  D–G  |  H–P  |  Q–Z


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.

Adapted from:

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