Terminology and Acronyms

Academic Advisor: A faculty member or staff person who is trained to assist students with educational planning for a successful college experience.

Academic Load: The number of credit hours taken in one semester.

Academic Probation: The standing of a student whose cumulative GPA is below the required 2.0.

Academic Suspension: The standing of a student whose semester GPA is below the required 2.0 while on academic probation.

Address: Permanent - The student’s home address. Residency is determined by this address. Mailing - The address used by a student while s/he is attending NIC if different from permanent address. Temporary - The address used for a short time if the local and permanent addresses are not being used.

Alumni: Individuals who have completed at least 12 NIC academic credits or the first semester of a certificate course or apprenticeship program.

American College Test (ACT): A national standardized test designed to assess a person's knowledge in English, mathematics, reading, and scientific reasoning. Exam results are often used as a requirement for college admission and sometimes for placement in college courses.

Associate’s degree: Typically requires the equivalent of two years of full-time study and the completion of a minimum of 60 semester credits of 100- and 200-level courses with a cumulative GPA of 2.0. Associate of Arts and Associate of Science Degrees are typically designed for transfer to a baccalaureate-granting institution.

Associate of Applied Science Degree: Typically requires the equivalent of two years of full-time study and the completion of a minimum of 60 credits of 100- and 200-level courses with a cumulative GPA of 2.0. Associate of Applied Science Degrees are designed to lead directly to employment in a specific career.

Audit: A student who does not want to receive credit or a grade in a course may audit the course. Audited courses will not fulfill graduation requirements and do not affect a student’s grade point average.

Bachelor’s degree (or Baccalaureate degree): Degree offered by four-year colleges and universities that typically requires the equivalent of four years of study for a minimum of 120 semester credits in lower (100 and 200) and upper (300 and 400) division courses with a cumulative GPA of at least a 2.0.

Cardinal Life: A system for recording students' educational activities and achievements outside of the classroom, and the communication tool used to notify students about upcoming co-curricular opportunities.

Catalog: Resource that provides essential information about a school, typically including the institution's history and philosophy, policies and procedures, accreditation status, courses of study, degree and certificates offered, physical facilities, admission and enrollment procedures, financial aid, student life activities, etc.

Certificate programs: Programs that are at least 7 credits in a focused area or topic, typically designed to enhance or provide specific career skills.

Co-curricular Activities: Non-classroom achievements and activities that contribute to a well-rounded education, such as athletics, clubs, student government, recreational and social organizations, and events, that are typically recorded in the Cardinal Life system.

The College Level Examination Program (CLEP): A program administered to students who desire to obtain college credit by taking proficiency tests in selected courses.

Community College: A two-year institution of post-secondary education offering transfer, occupational, and technical curriculum.

Concurrent enrollment student: A student enrolled at two institutions simultaneously; for example, an NIC student who is also enrolled at the University of Idaho or Lewis-Clark State College. 

Core course: A general education course or GEM (General Education Matriculation) course from several discipline areas that require a C- or better to satisfy requirements for an associate's degree.

Co-requisite course: A course that must be taken concurrently with another course or courses unless it was previously completed with the required minimum grade.

Counselor: A professional trained to assist students with being successful in college by strengthening psychological, emotional, and behavioral wellness.

Curriculum: Classes outlined by an institution that are required for completion of a program of study leading to a degree or certificate.

Degree requirements: An institution’s minimum requirements for awarding a degree typically including total credit hours, required GPA, and courses needed in a specified program of study.

Department: An organizational unit in a higher education institution responsible for the academic functions associated with a discipline or field of study, such as History or Diesel Mechanics.

Division: An administrative unit of an institution usually consisting of more than one department, or a branch of the institution, instructional or not, such as the Student Services Division.

Dual Credit: A program allowing eligible high school juniors and seniors to enroll in NIC courses. Credit for both high school and college may be awarded.

Educational Technology: Technology used for instruction (e.g. website, learning management system, textbook integration, mobile application, lecture capture, web conferencing, streaming media).

Elective: A course that is not specifically required and is chosen by the student based on educational objectives.

Faculty: Individuals who teach classes at a college or university.

Fees: Charges not included in tuition which are used to cover the cost of materials and equipment needed in certain courses; may also be assessed for student events, programs, and publications.

Final exams: End-of-the-semester assessments given in individual courses.

Financial aid: Aid for paying college expenses including grants, scholarships, loans, and part-time employment from federal, state, institutional, and private sources. Financial aid from these programs may be combined in an "award package" toward the cost of college.

Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA): The qualifying form used for all federal and government guaranteed commercial lenders’ programs, as well as many state, regional, and private student aid programs. By filling out the online or paper FAFSA, applicants start the process of qualifying for financial aid.

Full-time enrollment: Twelve or more credit hours per semester is considered full-time for financial aid purposes. Students are encouraged to earn at least 15 credits per semester whenever possible to complete full-time program pathways.

Gateway Courses: Courses identified in program pathways as an early indicator of student readiness for further study. These courses typically include key topics, concepts and learning expectations that are foundational to the program.

General Education Diploma (GED): Often referred to as General Education Development, the GED is the equivalent of a high school diploma based on completion of coursework and achievement of minimum scores on a set of standardized tests in language arts, math, science, and social studies.

Grade Point Average (GPA): The average score of student performance in courses each term of enrollment and in total for all courses taken at NIC.

Hybrid course: A course that combines face-to-face and online instruction. A substantial portion of the course learning activities (typically 30-70%) are delivered online.

Interactive video conference course: A course delivered to off-campus sites by technology that allows interaction between students and faculty through two-way audio and video.

Interest Areas: Groupings of college programs with similar education and career goals. Interest areas help students choose a direction when they are unsure about the specific certificate or degree to pursue when they begin college. Interest areas at NIC may include transfer and career programs under one heading. NIC has established six interest areas: Arts, Communication and Humanities, Business Administration and Management, Healthcare, Manufacturing and Trades, Social Services and Human Resources, and Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM).

Interstate Passport: A nationwide network of accredited two- and four-year institutions that promote transfer through a block of lower-division undergraduate general education learning outcomes and proficiencies.

Late-start course: A course that begins after the start of a term or semester.

Lecture/laboratory/discussion courses: Refers to the various ways that instruction is delivered. Lecture is a faculty-led presentation of course content, laboratory involves learning in an environment that requires measurement, materials, and observation, and discussion emphasizes student engagement with course material that is facilitated by faculty.

Matriculated Student: An individual who is admitted and enrolled in a degree or certificate program of study. Matriculated students are eligible for financial aid and may participate in varsity athletics.

Mid-term exams: Assessments given on material covered during the first half of the semester.

Milestone Courses: A course identified in program pathways to mark achievement toward a certificate or degree. Milestone courses may draw together foundational knowledge, integrate learning, and foster key co-curricular experience.

Non-credit courses: A course which does not count toward certificate or degree requirements that allows students to explore new fields of study, increase proficiency in a particular skill area or profession, develop potential, or enrich life experiences.

Online learning: Courses identified as Hybrid or Online in the North Idaho College Course Catalog.

Open-door institution: Institutions with an admission policy that allows anyone who meets certain age requirements to be admitted. Enrollment in courses may require placement or some level of proficiency or preparation.

Pathways at NIC: A comprehensive, research-based approach to strengthening how the college supports student achievement of educational and career goals. Pathways at NIC integrate thoughtfully designed program plans, improved student intake processes, and best practices for instruction and developmental education.

Pre-requisite: A condition that must be met before a student may enroll in a course.

Program Pathways: Maps of program course sequences with related co-curricular activities and experiences that promote student completion of the certificates and degrees.

Resident/Non-resident status: Determination of domicile that establishes tuition charges based on state statute or code.

Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT): A national standardized test designed to assess a person's knowledge in English, math, reading, and other areas. Exam results are often used as a requirement for admissions and sometimes for placement in college courses.

Service Learning: Learning that actively involves students in experiences outside of the classroom which often benefit others while advancing the goals of a given program.

Short-term course: A course that begins at the start of a term but is completed prior to the end of the term.

Syllabus: A summary of the course containing specific information such as how to contact the instructor, the instructor’s office location and office hours, an outline of what will be covered, a schedule of test dates and due dates for assignments, the grading for the course and other specific requirements.

Transcript: A student’s official academic record of courses taken, grades received, academic status, certificates, degrees conferred, and honors received.

Transfer of credits: Acceptance of credits earned at one institution by another institution.

Tuition: The charge for instruction at a college or university. Tuition does not include the cost of books, fees, or room and board. Tuition charges vary based on various factors, including resident status.

Tutor: A person with demonstrated knowledge in a subject who provides instruction to a student.

Undergraduate: A student who is pursuing a program of study at or before the baccalaureate degree.

University: An institution of higher learning that offers baccalaureate and post-graduate degrees and programs.

Waitlist: An option for students to indicate they want to enroll in a class that has reached its capacity and is closed.

Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE): A 16 state regional non-profit organization supporting collaboration to expand education access and excellence. WICHE programs include Interstate Passport.


Acronym Definition
AA Associate of Arts Degree
AAS Associate of Applied Science Degree
AC Academic Certificate
ACT American College Testing
ADA Americans with Disabilities Act
ALEKS PPL Assessment and Learning in Knowledge, Spaces, Placement, Preparation, and Learning (Math Placement)
AS Associate of Science Degree
ASE Automotive Service Excellence
ATC Advanced Technical Certificate
BA Bachelor of Arts Degree
BS Bachelor of Science Degree
BTC Basic Technical Certificate
CC Certificate of Completion
CEU Continuing Education Unit
CLEP College Level Examination Program
CTE Career and Technical Education
DS Directed Study
DSS Disability Support Services
EFC Expected Family Contribution
EOE Equal Opportunity Employment
FAFSA Free Application for Federal Student Aid
FERPA Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act
FSEOG Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant
GED General Education Diploma
GEM General Education Matriculation
GPA Grade Point Average
IELTS International English Language Testing System
ITC Intermediate Technical Certificate
NATEF National Automotive Technicians Education Foundation
NIC North Idaho College
NWCCU Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities
PELL Federal Pell Grant
SAT Scholastic Aptitude Test
TCC Technical Competency Credit
TDC Technical Dual Credit for High School Students
TOEFL Test of English as a Foreign Language
TSA Technical Skills Assessment
TWC The Write Class (English Placement)
WICHE Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education
WUE Western Undergraduate Exchange Program