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Cornell University Words and Phrases to Know
Every institution has it's own jargon! Discover some words and phrases you will encounter as a student at Cornell.
Terms in this set (50)
The school year that begins with autumn classes. The academic year at Cornell typically starts in August. In 2020, Cornell will start classes on September 2.
School official, assigned by your college, who can help choose your classes and make sure you are taking the right courses to graduate.
To attend a class without receiving academic credit.
A degree awarded to undergraduates, usually after four years of college classes.
The Office of the Bursar is Cornell University's central billing service center for tuition, fees, and other charges incurred by students.
Canvas is an online learning management system. Many courses at Cornell will use Canvas to facilitate their class (homework, grading, attendance, submission of assignments, projects, community boards, etc.). Cornell used to use Blackboard and this is being transitioned out Fall 2019. To learn more, click here.
The graduation ceremony at the end of an academic year when students receive their degrees or diplomas.
Cornell Academic Calendar
find all important dates for the semester, including holidays here.
The number of courses or credits a student takes during a specific term
A unit of measure for college work. Generally speaking, one credit hour represents one hour of classroom attendance each week for one term.
Feelings of uncertainty, confusion, or anxiety that can occur when adjusting to a new country and culture that may be very different from your own. You may also experience "reverse culture shock" upon returning to your home country, after you have become accustomed to the new country and culture.
A class you can take that is not specifically required by your major or minor.
Groups you belong to outside of class, such as sporting teams, clubs and organizations.
First-year college student.
A student who enrolls in at least a minimum number (determined by your college or university) of credit hours of courses.
General education classes
Classes that give students basic knowledge of a variety of topics. Students often must take general education classes in order to graduate.
Grade point average (GPA)
The average of all of the course grades you have received, on a four-point scale.
The official University grading system is composed of letter grades with pluses and minuses. Passing grades range from A+ to D-; F is failing. INC denotes a grade of incomplete, and R is the grade given a for an in-progress multi-semester course. The grades of INC and R do not have quality-point equivalents attached. More information can be found here.
Cornell's collection of fraternities and sororities on campus, whose names originate from letters in the ancient Greek alphabet.
A temporary job, paid or unpaid, usually in the field of your major. You may be able to receive college credit for an internship.
Third-year college student.
Your primary area of study. Your college major is the field you plan to get a job in after you graduate (for example: business, linguistics, anthropology, psychology).
Your secondary area of study. Fewer classes are required for a college minor than for a major. Many students' minors are a specialization of their major field. For example, students who want to become a science reporter might major in journalism and minor in biology.
Office Hours are sessions held outside of class by professors, instructors, or teaching assistants. Students can utilize this time to receive help on homework assignments or to ask for help regarding an upcoming exam. Here's more information.
Prelims are Cornell's term for exams. Each course has approximately 2 to 3 prelims in addition to a final exam that tests students on what they learned in class. Find out more here.
a course that must be taken before another course (For example, Math 1110 is a prerequisite for Math 1120.)
Satisfactory/unsatisfactory (S/U) - The purpose of the Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory (S/U) system is to encourage students to venture into courses outside their main areas of familiarity without great risk to academic record. The distinction between S and U is not the same, however, as that between pass and fail in the letter-grade system. In the S/U system, S indicates performance that would be graded C- or higher, and U indicates performance that would be graded below a C-. Students earn credit toward the fulfillment of graduation requirements for course grades of S, but not for course grades of U. Grades of S or U are not assigned numerical value and thus are not averaged in with other grades in computing grade point averages. The various schools and colleges differ in the restrictions they place on the election of S/U grading over letter grading. However, in those courses where college rules and course procedures allow it, the election is a student option that must be exercised within the first 57 calendar days of the term.
Type of academic term. Cornell has a fall semester and a spring semester (each about 15 weeks long), along with a summer term.
Fourth-year college student.
Second-year college student.
The student portal that allows students the ability to access information related to their academics, including registration status, class schedule, faculty advisor, grades, transcript requests, Pre-Enroll and Add/Drop.
an outline or other brief statement of the main points of a discourse, the subjects of a course of lectures, the contents of a curriculum / is an academic document that communicates course information and defines expectations and responsibilities.
TA, RA, GRA
Teaching Assistant, Research Assistant, Graduate Research Assistant
a test that students complete outside of a class using their textbooks and notes
a test where students can use other resources. Be sure you are clear about what exactly you can and can't use.
An official academic record that lists the courses you have completed, grades and information such as when you attended.
A list that students can join to wait for open seats in a class. If all the seats in a class have been filled and the department decides to open a waitlist, students can join the waitlist. Then, if a student who has registered drops the class, a seat opens up and is filled by a student on the waitlist.
a period at the beginning of each semester during which students can drop courses from their schedule and/or add new courses to their schedule (if space is available) without penalty.
when a student decides to stop participating in a course after the drop deadline. If a student withdraws from a course, the course will be included on their transcript with a 'W.
Pre-enrollment period (pre-enroll)
A three-day period of time where students request classes for the upcoming semester.
Grading on the curve
norm-referenced grading that compares students' performance to an average level.
Concurrent Degree (CD)
In the Concurrent Degrees Option, a student pursues two unrelated majors and is enrolled in two different colleges or schools, each of which has a unique perspective and academic focus.
Internal Transfer (IT)
The process by which a student in one college at Cornell applies to transfer into another college at Cornell.
When a student pursues two majors (areas of study) in the same college.
Cornell is home to eight undergraduate colleges and schools, each with its own faculty, academic requirements, and programs. Students in one college often take courses in other colleges.
Online course (Synchronous online course)
Course content is delivered completely online, with portions delivered synchronously at a prescheduled course meeting time. There is not a physical classroom. Students in the Ithaca area will be expected to take in person examinations.
Distance Learning Asynchronous
All students and instructors interact online. Involves well-designed, pre-recorded content and curated asynchronous interaction. Content is accessed by students at unspecified times.
Hybrid (online and in-person) course
Content that combines in person, scheduled classroom instruction with online learning. Begin in person, with rotational attendance, which continues through Thanksgiving, followed by online instruction for all students through the end of the semester. Some in person activity is required.
Remote access class meetings will be scheduled for most In Person, In Person with transition to Online, and Hybrid class meetings as a supplementary enrollment option for students unable to attend in person class meetings.
Depending on the college, these can be faculty and staff who help students explore academic resources, understand the curriculum, understand the academic major requirements, and discuss academic support resources as well as challenges.
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