Common Acronyms and Abbreviations Used in the College Confidential Forums

The College Confidential discussion forums use many acronyms and abbreviations. What do they all mean?

Here is a list of the most widely used phrases that have been aggregated by our users.

Most Common on CC

Abbreviation Description
CC College Confidential, Community College
D1 or S1 Daughter/Son #1, Daughter/Son #2, etc.
DD or DS Dear, Darling or Darn Daughter/Son
EA / ED / RD Early Action (non-binding) / Early decision (binding) / Regular Decision
HYPSM Harvard/Yale/Princeton/Stanford/MIT
LOCI Letter of continued interest
Full List (click to expand)
Abbreviation Description
pithy remark narrative voice, usually sarcastic
^^^ Refer to post above
10 char Used to fill out minimum character requirement to post (obsolete)
AA African American, Asian American (rarely), or Affirmative Action
AA Associate of Arts
AA-T Associate of Arts for Transfer (California)
AB Artium baccalaureus, Latin for bachelor of arts
ABET Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology, Inc.
ABLE Achieving a Better Life Experience
Academic Index Ivy League colleges use a tool called the Academic Index to summarize the academic performance of applicants. Originally developed as a means of establishing common standards for student-athlete applicants, the Academic Index (AI) has become a sort of shorthand for ranking students. Other colleges, elite and otherwise, may also use variants of the Academic in their admission process.
ACM Associated Colleges of the Midwest
ACT A national college admissions examination, formerly American College Testing
ADCOM Admissions Committee
ADN Associate Degree in Nursing
AI Admissions Index
AI Artificial Intelligence
AICE Advance International Certificate of Education
AIME American Invitational Mathematics Examination
AKA Also know as
AM Artium magister, Latin for master of arts"
AMC American Mathematics Competitions
AP Advanced Placement, a program of the College Board with standardized course curricula and associated standardized tests for advanced high school students to learn and be tested on college frosh level material
APR Annual percentage rate
APUSH Advanced Placement United States History
AR Academic Renewal
ARWU Academic Ranking of World Universities
AS Associate of Science
AS-T Associate of Science for Transfer (California)
AWS Amherst/Williams/Swarthmore
BA Bachelor of Arts
BArch Bachelor of architecture, a 5-year NAAB-accredited degree
BF boyfriend
BGO Blue and Gold Officer (USNA Admissions Representative)
BIL Brother in Law
BME Biomedical Engineering
BNP Brand Name Paralysis
BRB Be Right Back
BS Bachelor of Science
BSN Bachelor of Science in Nursing
BTW By the way
BTW Between
BUMP Bring Up My Post
Bump # XX Read post # XX
BWRK Bright Well-Rounded Kid
Cal University of California, Berkeley
CAS College of Arts and Sciences
CALS College of Agriculture and Life and Sciences (at Cornell University)
CBB Colby, Bates, Bowdoin
CC College Confidential, Community College
CCC California Community College
CDS Common Data Set
CIS Computer Information Systems (a less-technical business based major that includes management of computers, networks, and software) or Computer Information Science (a rarely used alternate name for computer science)
CMU Carnegie Mellon U
COA Cost of Attendenance
COVID-19 Coronavirus disease '19
CROP Carleton, Reed, Oberlin, Pomona (top LACs, outside of the northeast)
CPP California State Polytechnic University, Pomona
CPSLO California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo
CS Computer Science
CSE Computer Science and Engineering
CSS Profile Form needed to apply for aid at some colleges (often in addition to FAFSA)
CSU California State University system
CTCL Colleges That Change Lives
CUNY City University of New York system
D Daughter
D1 Daughter #1, Daughter #2, etc.
D12 Daughter graduated in 2012
dart Dartmouth
DD Dear, Darling or Darn Daughter
DE Dual enrollment, where a high school student may get both high school and college credit for a college course taken while in high school.
DGD Dear, Darling or Darn Grandaughter
DGS Dear, Darling or Darn Grandson
DH Dear, Darling or Darn Husband
DI Drill Instructor
DND Do not disturb
DO Doctor of osteopathic medicine; in the US, can practice in all areas of medicine like those with MD degrees
DODMERB Department of Defense Medical Examination Review Board (the physical exam all service academy and ROTC scholarship applicants need to take)
DP Dear Parents
DS Dear, Darling or Darn Son
DW Dear, Darling or Darn Wife
EA Early Action (non-binding), where the applicant applies by an early deadline and may get a decision earlier than the usual date (or may get deferred for a decision at the usual date)
EC Extra Curricular activity or (less commonly) Extra Credit
ED Early decision (binding), where the applicant applies by an early deadline and may get a decision earlier than the usual date (or may get deferred for a decision at the usual date); if admitted, the applicant agrees to matriculate (typically with an exception for insufficient financial aid)
ED1 Early decision with deadline usually around November
ED2 Early decision with deadline usually around January
EFC Expected Family Contribution; may differ between FAFSA calculation and each college’s own calculation (FAFSA EFC will be renamed to Student Aid Index)
ELC Eligibility in Local Context; for University of California frosh admissions, having a UC-recalculated high school GPA above the top 9% threshold of a recent previous graduating class of your high school gets special consideration
ETA Edited to add
FA Financial Aid
FAFSA Free Application for Federal Student Aid
FAO Financial Aid Office or Officer
FM Federal Methodology for calculating financial need for financial aid purposes
FSFAA Foreign Financial Aid Application
FTW For the win
FU Furman University
FWIW For What It’s Worth
FYSA For Your Situational Awareness
GC Guidance Counselor
GD Granddaughter
GF Girlfriend
GS Grandson
GTO Guaranteed Transfer Option
Gtown Georgetown
H/SS Humanities (usually including arts) and Social Studies/Sciences
HASS Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences (MIT terminology)
HAmLit Honors American Lit
HBCU Historically Black College or University
HEDS Higher Education Data Sharing Consortium
HMFR Huge Mother F#*!&ing Reach
Hook Applicant attribute that is of particular interest to the school; hooks vary at different schools
HPME Honors Program in Medical Education
HSA Humanities, Social Sciences, and Arts (Harvey Mudd College terminology)
HYP Harvard/Yale/Princeton
HYPD Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Dartmouth
HYPS Harvard/Yale/Princeton/Stanford
HYPSM Harvard/Yale/Princeton/Stanford/MIT
HYPSMC Harvard/Yale/Princeton/Stanford/MIT/Caltech-Columbia-Cornell
IANAAO I am not an admissions officer
IB International Baccalaureate (in high school).
IB HL International Baccalaureate Higher Level (course). May be given subject credit or advanced placement in college.
IB SL International Baccalaureate Standard Level (course). Generally will not be given subject credit or advanced placement in college.
ID Interim decision (term used by some schools instead of Early Action)
IDK I don’t know
IGETC Intersegmental General Education Transfer Curriculum: a set of course categories that California community college students can complete to fulfill frosh/soph level general education requirements upon transfer to a California State University or most campuses and divisions of the University of California
IIRC If I recall correctly
IM Institutional Methododology for calculating financial need for financial aid purposes (varies with each school using IM)
IMHO In My Humble Opinion
Iming Instant Messaging
IMNSHO In My Not So Humble Opinion
IMO In My Opinion
IRL In Real Life
ISFAA International Student Financial Aid Application
IUPUI Indiana University-Purdue University - Indianapolis
Ivy League An NCAA Division I Football Championship Subdivision athletic conference
IWSFT I was surprised to find that
JD Juris Doctor (law degree)
JK Just Kidding
KU Kansas University
KWIM Know what I mean
LAC Liberal Arts College
Liberal Arts Natural sciences, social sciences, arts, and humanities (sometimes used to describe only the latter three, excluding natural sciences); contrast to applied subjects that are more explicitly pre-professional like business, nursing, engineering, architecture, and agriculture
little ivies Top Liberal Arts Colleges
little ivies Williams, Amherst, Trinity, Wesleyan, Hamilton, Hobart, Union, Colgate
Little Three Amherst, Wesleyan, Williams
LOCI Letter of continued interest
LOL Laugh Out Loud
MA Master of Arts
MArch Master of Architecture
MD Medicinae doctor, Latin for doctor of medicine
MEHAP Honors American Lit
Merit Scholarships Scholarships based on factors other than financial need
ML Machine Learning, a subarea of computer science
Mods Forum Moderators
MOOC Massive open online course
MS Master of Science
NAAB National Architectural Accrediting Board, an organization that does major-specific accreditation for architecture programs (note: NAAB-accredited BArch programs are 5 year programs)
NCAA National Collegiate Athletic Association
NCP Non-custodial parent
NE New England
NESCAC New England Small College Athletic Conference
NEU Northeastern University
NHS National Honors Society
NMF National Merit Finalist
NMSF National Merit Semifinalist
NOVA Northern Virginia
NPC Net price calculator
NRC National Research Council
NSE National Student Exchange
NTTAWWT Not that there’s anything wrong with that
NU Northwestern University
NVM Nevermind
NYU New York U
OE Overseas experience
OMG Oh my God or Gosh
OOS Out of state
OP Original Post(er)
OSU Ohio State University, Oklahoma State University, or Oregon State University
OT Off Topic
OTOH On the other hand
OU Ohio University
OU University of Oklahoma
p-ton or pton Princeton
PA Peer Assessment
Penn or UPenn University of Pennsylvania
PG Postgraduate year
PhD Philosophiae doctor, Latin for doctor of philosophy
PLME Program in Liberal Medical Education (Brown’s special medical program)
PLOS Parent Looking Over Shoulder
PLTW Project Lead The Way
PM Personal/Private Messages
PSU Pennsylvania State University
PWI Predominantly white institution. Sometimes used as the opposite of HBCU, but is not exactly the opposite, since there are a few colleges that are both HBCU and PWI, while there are other colleges that are neither HBCU nor PWI.
PWN Someone who dominates
R+B Room and Board
RA Resident Assistant (in a college dorm) or Rolling Admissions
RAR Regional Admissions Representive
RD Regular Decision
REA Restrictive Early Action (non-binding but requires agreeing to limitations on other early applications; limitations vary by school). Also called SCEA.
RIT Rochester Institute of Technology (NY)
ROFL Rolling on the floor
ROFLMAOPMP Rolling on the floor laughing my ass off peeing my pants
ROFLOL Rolling on the floor/laughing out loud
ROI Return on Investment
Rolling admission Applicants may apply at any time before the deadline; many applicants will receive decisions shortly after applying.
RPI Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (Troy, NY)
RSI Research Science Institute at MIT
S Son
S1 Son # 1, Son #2, etc.
S12 Son graduated in 2012
SA Situational Awareness
SAI Student Aid Index, a calculation from FAFSA information formerly called (FAFSA) EFC
SAT A national college admissions examination. Formerly Scholastic Aptitude Test or Scholastic Assessment Test
SAT II Common but obsolete name for SAT Subject Tests. The SAT Subject Tests have been discontinued.
SB Scientiae baccalaureus, Latin for bachelor of science
SCEA Single Choice Early Action (non-binding but requires agreeing to limitations on other early applications; limitations vary by school). Also called REA
SDSU San Diego State University or South Dakota State University
SEAS Science, Engineering and Applied Sciences, as the engineering division at some universities (e.g. Columbia and UPenn) is named
SEC SouthEastern Conference, an NCAA Division I Football Bowl Subdivision athletic conference
SES Socio-Economic Status
SIL Sister in Law
SIR Statement of Intent to register
SM Scientiae magister, Latin for master of science
SMH Shaking my head
SMU Southern Methodist University
SN Screen Name
SO Significant Other
Stats A student’s GPA, test scores, curriculum and extracurriculars
STEM Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics. Be careful about generalizing over the entire group of majors, since they vary greatly in terms of course work and post-graduation job and career prospects.
SU Syracuse University
SU Seattle U
SUNY State University of New York
SWAP Swarthmore, Williams, Amherst & Pomona; also WASP
T1 Twin 1, Twin 2
TAG Transfer Acceptance Guarantee, available at some University of California campuses and majors for California community college students who complete specified course and grade / GPA requirements for assured transfer admission.
TASP Telluride Association Summer Program (6 week summer program for juniors)
TASS Telluride Association Summer Program (6 week summer program for sophomores)
TCE Total College Experience
THE Times Higher Education
The Ivies The members of the Ivy League, an NCAA Division I Football Championship Subdivision athletic conference: Brown, Columbia, Cornell, Dartmouth, Harvard, UPenn, Princeton, Yale
The Public Ivys University of California - at Berkeley, at Davis, at Irvine, at Los Angeles, at Riverside, at San Diego, at Santa Barbara, at Santa Cruz; Miami University of Ohio; University of Michigan at Ann Arbor; University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; University of Texas at Austin; University of Vermont at Burlington; University of Virginia at Charlottesville; William and Mary College of Virginia
The Seven Sisters Barnard, Bryn Mawr, Mt. Holyoke, Radcliffe, Smith, Vassar, Wellesley
TIA Thanks in advance
Tip Something that can tip a candidates app one way or another
TJHSST Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology
TO Test Optional (SAT and ACT scores not needed to apply), at Univ of Southern California can mean Thematic Option
TOEFL Test of English as a foreign language
TOK Theory of Knowledge IB course
TOS Terms Of Service
TTFM Too tough for me
TTFN TaTa for Now
UAA University Athletic Association
UC University of California system
UC University of Chicago
UCB University of California, Berkeley
UCD University of California, Davis
UCI University of California, Irvine
UCLA University of California, Los Angeles
UCM University of California, Merced
UCR University of California, Riverside
UCSB University of California, Santa Barbara
UCSC University of California, Santa Cruz
UCSD University of California, San Diego
UCSF University of California, San Francisco (has no undergrad programs)
UDub University of Washington
UIC University of Illinois, Chicago
UIUC University of Illinois, Urbana - Champaign
UK University of Kentucky
UM University of Maryland
UM University of Michigan
UM University of Miami
UM University of Minnesota
UM University of Montana
UM University of Memphis
UM University of Mississippi (Ole Miss)
Umass University of Massachusetts
UMD University of Maryland
UMSL University of Missouri St. Louis
UNC University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
UofC University of Chicago
UPENN University of Pennsylvania
URM Under Represented Minority
USABO United States of America Biology Olympiad
USAFA United States Air Force academy
USAMO United States of America Mathematics Olympiad
USC University of Southern California
USC University of South Carolina
USCGA United States Coast Guard Academy
USD University of San Diego
USD University of South Dakota
USHAP Advanced Placement United States History
USMA United States Military Academy
USMMA United States Merchant Marine Academy
USNA United States Naval Academy
USNWR US News World Report
UW University of Washington. University of Wisconsin, University of Wyoming
VC Vassar
W&J, W+J Washington and Jefferson
W&L, W+L, WLU Washington and Lee University
WASP Williams, Amherst, Swarthmore, Pomona; also SWAP
WASP White Anglo Saxon Protestant
WL Wait List
WOW Walks on water
WPI Worcester Polytechnic Institute (MA)
WUE Western Undergraduate Exchange, a regional tuition discount program across various western states
WUStL or WashU Washington University in St. Louis
Yale-NUS Residential LAC in Singapore: collaboration between Yale University and the National University of Singapore
YMMV Your mileage may vary

If you have something that needs to be added that is college related, this post is a wiki, feel free to add them to the OP! (CC Staff and Mods reserve the right to override any edits).

More:

  • AA: "African American" (or less commonly "Asian American")
  • AACSB: "Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business, an organization that does major-specific accreditation for degree programs in business and accounting; does not accredit programs at for-profit colleges, unlike ACBSP"
  • ABET: "Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology, an organization that does major-specific accreditation for degree programs in engineering, engineering technology, computing, and applied & natural sciences (mostly known for engineering and engineering technology accreditation)"
  • ACBSP: "Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs, an organization that does major-specific accrediation for degree programs in business; unlike AACSB, it allows for-profit colleges to seek and get accreditation"
  • ACS: "American Chemical Society, which does major-specific approval (accreditation) of chemistry major degree programs" CU: "University of Colorado"
  • EA: "Early action, where the applicant applies and receives a decision earlier than usual, but is not required to attend if admitted"
  • ED: "Early decision, where the applicant applies early and agrees to attend if admitted and the college is affordable"
  • ED II or ED 2: "Early decision second round, with somewhat later application and decision dates, but before the regular decision application and decision dates; applicant agrees to attend if admitted and the college is affordable"
  • GMAT: "Graduate Management Admission Test, for applying to graduate schools in business"
  • GPA: "Grade point average; for high school GPA, unweighted GPA on a 4 point scale (A=4, B=3, C=2, D=1, F=0) is most useful to others"
  • GRE: "Graduate Record Examination, for applying to graduate schools that do not have their own standardized tests"
  • KU: "University of Kansas" (not Kentucky)
  • LSAT: "Law School Admission Test"
  • MCAT: "Medical College Admission Test"
  • NCLEX: "National Council Licensure Examination, for nursing licensing" Penn: "University of Pennsylvania" (generally not Pennsylvania State University)
  • RA: "Research assistant, a type of employment/funding for PhD students"
  • RA: "Resident assistant in a college dorm"
  • RD: "Regular decision, distinct from early application programs like EA or ED (although some colleges may give decisions quite early)"
  • SEAS: "School of Engineering and Applied Science, the engineering division at Columbia University (Fu Foundation SEAS) or University of Pennsylvania"
  • SRAR: "Self reported academic record, used in lieu of sending high school and/or college transcripts when applying to a college; courses and grades are verified by transcripts upon matriculation"
  • TA: "Teaching assistant, a type of employment/funding for PhD students, where the PhD student may run a discussion or lab associated with a larger lecture given by a faculty member, or may be the primary instructor for frosh English composition or lower level foreign language skill courses"
  • UA: "University of Alabama or University of Arizona (less commonly University of Alaska)"
  • UK: "University of Kentucky"
  • UK: "United Kingdom"
  • UT: "University of Texas most commonly; may also to University of Tennessee or University of Toronto"
  • UT(various): "University of Texas [campus location]. For example, UTEP = University of Texas El Paso, UTSA = University of Texas San Antonio. UTA may be ambiguous for Arlington or Austin, but usually refers to Arlington, while UT is usually used to refer to Austin."
  • UTK: "University of Tennessee Knoxville"

More:

  • AB: "Artium baccalaureus, Latin for bachelor of arts"
  • AM: "Artium magister, Latin for master of arts"
  • BA: "Bachelor of arts"
  • BC: "Boston College"
  • BS: "Bachelor of science"
  • BU: "Boston University"
  • CE: "Civil engineering (usually), but some ambiguity with computer engineering or chemical engineering"
  • ChE: "Chemical engineering"
  • CivE: "Civil engineering"
  • CIS: "Computer information systems, usually a more business-based major than computer science. At some colleges, can mean computer information *science*, meaning (more technically-based) computer science."
  • CompE: "Computer engineering"
  • CS: "Computer science"
  • DO: "Doctor of osteopathic medicine; in the US, can practice in all areas of medicine like those with MD degrees"
  • ECE: "Electrical and computer engineering"
  • EE: "Electrical engineering"
  • EECS: "Electrical engineering and computer science"
  • JD: "Juris doctor, Latin for doctor of laws"
  • MA: "Master of arts"
  • MD: "Medicinae doctor, Latin for doctor of medicine"
  • MS: "Master of science"
  • ME: "Mechanical engineering"
  • NAAB: "National Architectural Accrediting Board, an organization that does major-specific accreditation for architecture programs (note: NAAB-accredited BArch programs are 5 year programs)"
  • PhD: "Philosophiae doctor, Latin for doctor of philosophy"
  • PWI: "Predominantly white institution. Sometimes used as the opposite of HBCU, but is not exactly the opposite, since there are a few colleges that are both HBCU and PWI, while there are other colleges that are neither HBCU nor PWI."
  • SB: "Scientiae baccalaureus, Latin for bachelor of science"
  • SM: "Scientiae magister, Latin for master of science"
  • UVA: "University of Virginia"
  • VT: "Virginia Polytechnic and State University, or Virginia Tech"

More:

  • AA: "Associate of arts"
  • AA-T: "Associate of arts for transfer (California)"
  • ADN: "Associates degree in nursing"
  • ADT: "Associates degree for transfer (California)"
  • AS: "Associate of science"
  • AS-T: "Associate of science for transfer (California)"
  • BArch: "Bachelor of architecture, a 5-year NAAB-accredited degree"
  • BSN: "Bachelor of science in nursing"
  • H/SS: "Humanities and social sciences/studies (usually inclusive of arts in humanities)"
  • HASS: "Humanities, arts, and social sciences (MIT terminology)"
  • HSA: "Humanities, social sciences, and arts (Harvey Mudd College terminology)"
  • Liberal arts: "Natural sciences, social sciences, arts, and humanities (sometimes used to describe only the latter three, excluding natural sciences); contrast to applied subjects that are more explicitly pre-professional like business, nursing, engineering, architecture, and agriculture"
  • MArch: "Master of architecture"
  • STEM: "Science, technology, engineering, mathematics"

More:

  • ASU: "Arizona State University" (less commonly, "Alabama State University")
  • CSHE: "Commonwealth System of Higher Education, the "state related" universities in Pennsylvania: Lincoln University, Pennsylvania State University, University of Pittsburgh, Temple University; distinct from the PASSHE universities. They function somewhat more like private universities, but receive state subsidies in exchange for tuition discounts for state residents."
  • UH: "University of Hawaii" or "University of Houston"
  • PASSHE: "Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education, the state owned universities in Pennsylvania, distinct from the CSHE universities"
  • UBC: "University of British Columbia (Canada)"
  • UC: "University of Cincinnati" (less commonly used than "University of California" or "University of Chicago")

@ucbalumnus This is now a wiki - have at it! :slight_smile:

Can TO be amended to add the meaning “test optional”? That seems to be the current usage of the acronym.

TIA!

These are used in the Prep-School subs:

HADES: Hotchkiss, Andover, Deerfield, Exeter, St. Pauls

GLADCHEMMS:
Groton
Lawrenceville
Andover
Deerfield
Choate
Hotchkiss
Exeter
Middlesex
Milton
St Pauls