Helpful Definitions

Some Helpful Definitions for Parents of the Pride
Courtesy of Division of Student Affairs, University of North Alabama

academic advisor   A member of the UNA faculty who, through regular meetings, helps the student plan and implement immediate and long-­‐term academic goals; provides advice and guidance to students on academic matters, such as course selections.

academic year    The academic year at UNA is the fall semester plus the spring semester. It does not include summer session.  

audited course    A course that is taken without receiving a grade, thus does not count in requirements for a degree. In most cases, the course cannot be repeated to receive credit towards a degree.

Bachelor’s degree  An undergraduate degree awarded by a university upon successful completion of a program of study, typically requiring at least four years of full-time study. Common degree types include bachelor of arts degree (B.A.) which refers to the liberal arts, and bachelor of science degree (B.S.). A bachelor's degree is required before starting graduate studies.

Banner   The official UNA student information database. Banner is accessed by logging into UNA Portal.

board  Meals, usually refers to “room and board” if student lives on campus in a residence hall. Board costs are separate from room costs.

Bursar   The University’s official in charge of billing students for expenses such as tuition, fees, room, and board.

Canvas   UNA uses the online learning management system called Canvas. Instructors use Canvas to distribute course materials, collect assignments, have discussions, or give tests. It is vital for UNA students to be familiar with Canvas. A mobile app is also available.  

classification   Students are designated as freshmen, sophomores, juniors or seniors by the number of credit hours officially earned by the close of the previous term as recorded in the Office of the Registrar. The designations are as follows:  

Freshmen (FR)              0 to 29 credit hours earned
Sophomores (SO)        32 to 59 credit hours earned
Juniors (JR)                 60 to 89 credit hours earned
Seniors (SR)                90 to 120 credit hours earned

college   A division of the university’s academic organization, such as College of Business or College of Nursing.    

college catalog   This publication is a detailed overview of the University which includes its mission, programs, costs, admissions requirements, faculty and administration, degree requirements, classes and their descriptions, and more.  A continually updated online version is available.

commencement   A graduation ceremony where students officially receive their degrees; held in May and December.

concentration   A specific area of emphasis within a chosen major. Usually optional, it's a tool to help customize the student's academic track to take a specific set of courses.

course   A regularly scheduled class on a particular subject. Each college or university offers degree programs that consist of a specific number of required and elective courses.

course number   Alphabetical and numerical code assigned to a class that designates the subject being taught and the recommended year in which the student should enroll. Courses primarily for freshman and sophomore are designated as 100 or 200; junior and senior courses are designated at 300 and 400. (Also see section number.) 

credit course   A course that, if successfully completed, can be applied toward the number of courses required for achieving a degree.   

credit hour   A unit of measure representing an hour (50 minutes) of instruction over a semester. It is applied toward the total number of hours needed for completing the requirements of a degree. Most classes are three credit hours, meaning their total meeting time for per week is three hours.

degree   An award conferred (awarded) by the University as official recognition for the successful completion of a program of studies.

degree audit   An official review by the Registrar’s office that a student is fulfilling all requirements for his/her specified degree program. 

drop/add   The process to change a class registration from one course/section to another course/section. This is a specified time period in the earliest part of the semester. The Registrar's website has exact dates and instructions.

distance learning   An option for earning course credit online via the Internet from campus or non-campus locations. UNA uses Canvas for online courses.

enroll   To officially agree to instruction in a course and comply with the requirements for successful completion of the course.  

first-time, first-year student (FTFY)   A student attending UNA for the first time at the undergraduate level. Includes students enrolled in the fall term who attended college for the first time in the prior summer term. Also includes students who entered with advanced standing (college credits earned before graduation from high school).

first-year student   A student who has completed less than the equivalent of one full year of undergraduate work; that is, less than 30 credit hours.

full-time student   An undergraduate student who is enrolled in at least 12 credit hours for the semester. This is the minimum enrollment required to receive most financial aid and scholarships. Typically, successful completion of 15-16 hours per semester allows a student to complete the undergraduate program in four years.

GPA (grade point average)  (See quality points.) The GPA is figured by dividing the total of quality points accumulated by the total of credit hours attempted. For example, if a student has earned 96 quality points for 48 credit hours attempted, the GPA is 2.0. The GPA is cumulative.

holds   Most holds are placed on a student’s account because of outstanding fees or overdue account balances. However, a hold is not always financially related, but requires some action on the part of the student before it can be removed.  Students are notified of account holds when they are denied access to their account information. The hold is removed from the student’s account once the infraction has been resolved.

intersession (interim)  The time period between end of spring semester and start of summer session. A class offered during intersession is typically three weeks long but is equivalent in credit hours to a regular semester.

major   The concentration of courses in which a student enrolls to earn his/her undergraduate degree. Students must indicate their major by the start of their junior year to stay on schedule to graduate on time.

midterm   An examination given in a course at the mid-point of the semester to evaluate how a student is mastering the instruction being provided. Midterm grades will count toward the overall grade earned for the course.

minor   A secondary concentration of courses that complements the primary course of study for a student’s major.

part-time student (undergraduate)  A student enrolled for fewer than 12 credits per semester.

Portal   UNA Portal is the online program students use to register for classes, accept financial aid, and view unofficial transcripts, final grades, and holds.  UNA Portal also provides student emails and serves as the official form of communication. 

pre-registration   The process of enrolling in a class prior to the semester in which the course is offered. A student who is taking fall semester classes can pre-register for spring classes.

prerequisite  A course that must be taken prior to enrollment in another course.

quality points  Based on the grade received for each regular course completed. UNA uses the 4.0 grading system. Each semester hour of credit is equal to 4 quality points if passed with a grade of A; a B equals 3 quality points B; a C equals 2 quality points; a D equals 1 quality point. No quality points are given for grades of F or for noncredit courses. A student must earn a minimum GPA of 2.0 on all work attempted at UNA and on all work attempted in the major and minor fields (when required).  Example: When the student makes a B in a credit course that has 4 credit hours, the student has earned 3 x 4 = 12 quality points.

Registrar   This is the University’s official who coordinates all student academic records. Processes include pre-registration/registration; drop/add and withdrawals; grade reporting; transcripts; degree audit; commencement; athlete eligibility; veteran credentials; class schedule brochure; Banner student software.

registration   The process of officially enrolling in a class for instruction for a selected semester.

residency   Refers to permanent address of a student in determining in-state and out-of-state tuition.  The Office of Admissions has the most current criteria that a student must have to make a change in residency.

Schedule Builder  This is an online schedule planner in UNA Portal for registering for classes. It lists available courses / sections that are offered for the particular semester (fall, spring, summer). Students design their schedule around the courses available, allowing for meal times, work hours, and study breaks.

section number   The section number refers to the specific class period that a course is offered. This number appears as a hyphen and two digits after the course number. There may be more than one section offered for a course, but a student can only attend the section selected when registering. To change section number requires the drop/add process as determined by the Office of the Registrar.

semester   One of the two parts of the academic year. UNA has a fall semester and a spring semester. Each semester is a 17-week period. Fall semester is August to December; the spring semester is January to May.

summer session  A summer session is shorter than a regular semester and not considered part of the academic year. UNA has two 4-week summer terms: one term in June and one in July. Some courses are offered as an 8-week term. An intersession term is offered between end of spring semester and beginning of the June summer session.

transcript  The official document containing the record of a student’s academic performance and testing history. It is certified by the signature of the Registrar and has the UNA official seal and watermark.  Unofficial transcripts are accessed through Portal in the student’s Banner Self-Service record.

tuition and fees   The cost of classes, labs, and miscellaneous fees (such as health services fee and student activities fee). Tuition is charged per credit hour.

undergraduate   A college or university student who has not yet received a degree, particularly a bachelor’s degree.

upperclassman     A student who is classified as a junior or senior.

withdraw   To officially discontinue a student’s enrollment from the University for the selected semester.