Glossary of Useful Terms to Know for Admission

Admission Essay College Graduate Universities

The admission process can become a great challenge for applicants without thorough preparation. Thus, future students face a lot of new terms that can literally blow their minds.

That’s why we decided to make a glossary of the most common terms the applicant should know for successful admission. With this list, it will be easier to get accustomed to a new environment.


Activity List

A Common App section that requires a list of extracurricular activities to tell more about the personality of the applicant, his/her hobbies, and interests outside the school.

Admission Rate/Acceptance Rate

A percentage of applicants who were admitted to a certain college or university. Note that the acceptance rate differs from year to year.


College Application Essay/Personal Statement

An applicant’s essay aimed to tell the admissions committee who you are and why you are a perfect candidate for a chosen academic program.

College Decision Day

It is a deadline for the applicants to make a final decision concerning the college or university they want to attend. In the US, May 1st is National Decision Day.


Deferred Decision

It means that the early application turns to the regular one, and the admission committee will give it a second look later.


Early Action

It is an option provided by some colleges and universities for the students to apply before the regular admission and get a response in advance.

Early Decision

A certain commitment of an applicant to enroll to the first-choice institution right after he/she is accepted and withdraw applications to other colleges.


Gap Year

It is a break between a school graduation and college enrollment taken by applicants to find themselves and decide their future.


Holistic Review

It is a non-traditional approach to assess the applicant based on the priority of the unique experience of an applicant over the test scores and grades.


Ivy League

Ivy League is an alliance of the prestigious US institutions, including Brown University, Columbia University, Cornell University, Dartmouth College, Harvard University, University of Pennsylvania, Princeton University, and Yale University.


Legacy Application

Legacy admission is practiced by some colleges and universities. It is based on giving the alumni’s children preference over other applicants.

Letter of Recommendation

It is a formal statement of a credible person aimed to describe the positive qualities of the applicant and highlight why he/she is a perfect candidate to get accepted to a college or university.


Need-Blind Admission

It is a policy that allows NOT to consider the applicant’s financial situation and make a final decision based on the abilities and experience of a person.


Regular Decision

It is a standard procedure when the admission board takes a final decision concerning the applicants according to the regular deadlines (early January is a typical deadline to submit an application on a regular decision basis).


Rolling Admission

This policy is typical for the majority of US law schools. In case of rolling admission, the college will continue to review the applications until all open slots for the classes are filled. Thus, the application process is spread out for several months.


Statement of Purpose

Statement of Purpose is a formal statement written by an applicant to clearly define the purpose of applying to a certain academic program.


Test-Optional Admission

It is an admission policy in some colleges and universities, allowing the applicants to decide whether to submit SAT or ACT test scores or not.

Test Blind Admission

It is a type of admission when the tests WON’T BE considered as a part of evaluating even if a student decided to send his/her scores.



When an applicant is on a waiting list, it means that the application is reviewed, but the admission board is not ready to accept you for some reason. In this case, students still have a chance to get accepted.

The admissions process is full of new terms and notions you must know to pass this challenge. This glossary of useful terms serves one single purpose: to help you adapt faster. You can order it here if you need a different kind of help, for example, essay or dissertation editing.

Robin W.
Professional essay editor and proofreader with 10+ years of experience. Education: Cornell University. PhD in English Studies and M.F.A in Creative Writing.
Update: April 7, 2022

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