First-Gen Resources

First-generation college students are the first person in their immediate family to attend and/or graduate college. Through unique perspectives and experiences, first-generation students enhance classroom learning and campus diversity. We are excited to provide support and serve as a resource in assisting current first-generation UNA students as they navigate college life. Being a first-generation college student is an accomplishment that should be celebrated!
The college experience is filled with special terms, forms, deadlines, requirements—and more. It can feel especially daunting for students who are the first in their family to go to college. Here we've outlined a glossary of terms and definitions that students, parents, and community mentors may encounter along the way.
Academic Advisor: A professional who provides guidance on course enrollment, academic progress and graduation. Students typically meet with an advisor each semester before enrolling.
Academic Calendar: Calendar of events that includes dates of breaks and final exams. 
Academic HonestyA university policy that requires all members of the university community to adhere to standards of academic integrity. Violations of academic honesty include but are not restricted to cheating, misrepresentation of information and plagiarism.
Academic Standing or Status: A student's grade place the student in either good standing academically or put the student at risk academically. Being at risk academically is denoted by one of four terms: academic warning, academic probation, academic suspension or academic dismissal.
Academic Year: The academic year consists of three semesters: fall, spring and summer. UNA's academic year, which begins in August, includes 16-week fall and spring semesters and a shorter summer semester with intersessions.
Accredited: Recognition that a university or program meets regional or national standards. 
ACT: An exam that is a college admission requirement for many universities. The test measures students' English, reading, math, science and writing.
Alumni (Alumna/Alumnus): People who have graduated from UNA. A female graduate is an alumna; a male or female graduate is an alumnus.
Area Coordinators (ACs): ACs are Master's level professional staff with significant experience in residence life. Area Coordinators supervise the resident advisor (RA) staff and oversee the community development and operations of each residence hall.
Associate's Degree: Usually a two-year degree awarded to students who complete community or technical college requirements. With careful planning, the degree can match many requirements for a UNA's four-year degree. UNA does not offer associate degrees.
Audit: An option that allows a student to participate in a course and learn the material without receiving a grade or credit.
Baccalaureate: A bachelor’s degree.
Bachelor of Arts (B.A.): A type of degree that includes modern language courses.
Bachelor of Science (B.S.): Most common type of bachelor’s degree. In some programs that offer B.A. and B.S. options, it is a degree that does not include the same modern language course requirements.
Bachelor's DegreeDegree awarded to students who graduate from a four-year college or university, and typically required before a master’s degree. You can earn a B.S. or B.A.
CanvasAn online system where students view course syllabi, documents, submit assignments, monitor grades and much more.
Cashier's Window: Located on the basement floor of 601 Cramer Way, the cashier's window is where students go to pay their tuition, fees and cash personal checks.
Class Attendance: Regular and punctual attendance at all scheduled classes and activities is expected of all students and is regarded as integral to course credit. Each student is directly responsible to the individual professor for absences and for making up work missed.
Class Schedule: A list of courses in which a student is enrolled, along with when and where the classes meet. Students access their class schedule through portal.
Classification: Students who are classified according to the credit hours they have earned. Freshmen are those students who have earned 0-29 credit hours; sophomores, 30-59 credit hours; juniors, 60-89 credit hours; and seniors, 90 credit hours or above.
CLEP: An acronym for the College Level Examination Program which offers students the option of obtaining college credit by taking proficiency examinations in selected courses. Minimum scores must be met in order to receive credit. There is a charge for each examination taken.
Cocurricular Activity: Any out-of-classroom event or opportunity that complements what students are learning in their courses.
College: An academic subunit of the university concentrated around areas of study. UNA has four colleges: College of Arts and Sciences, College of Business, College of Education and Human Services, and The Anderson College of Nursing and Health Professions.
Commencement: The official title of the graduation ceremony. Three ceremonies are offered each year: one in May, August, and December.
Commuter: A student who lives off campus and drives to class.
Complete Withdrawal: An academic status when a student ends enrollment in courses during a semester.
Comprehensive Exam: A term often used with final exams. A comprehensive final exam will be over all the material in the course.
Cost of Attendance: The total expenses for a student to attend UNA, including tuition, books and supplies, housing, food and other necessities.
Counseling Services: An office that provides counseling services to students for various needs. The visits to Counseling Services each year are free for enrolled students.
Course Catalog: A list of the courses offered by the university, organized by academic year.
Course Load: The number of credits and/or courses that a student takes during a semester.
Course Number: The number associated with a specific course. Individual courses are denoted by letters and numbers that represent the department that offers the course and the number for a particular course. For example, COM 201 01 is the course number for Fundamentals of Public Speaking.
Course Schedule: A listing of courses offered by semester, college and department.
Create: A campus convenience store located near the student rec center that provide drinks, snacks and personal care items for purchase.
Credit Hour: Courses taken in college are measured in credit hours that indicate the amount of time spent in class. For example, a 3 credit hour class would meet either three 50-minute classes per week, two 75-minute classes per week, or one 2-hour and 45-minute class per week. Notations for the credit hour(s) per course are listed in the Schedule of Classes at each course listing.
Cross-Listed Course: The same course offered by two or more academic units and identified by the same course name, but with different course prefixes (Ex: Social Psychology of Intimate relationships is cross-listed by Sociology (SO 543) and Family Studies (FS 543).
Dead Day: The day before final exams begin. There are no class meetings on this day and can be used to prepare for final exams and/or work on final assignments. 
Dean: The head of a college within the university that is responsible for academic decisions related to your program of study.
Default: Failure to repay a loan.
Deferment: A plan allowed under certain conditions to delay attendance at UNA.
Degree: The title awarded by UNA to a student who completes a curriculum and graduates; e.g., a bachelor’s degree.
Degree Requirements: Requirements set forth by the university which must be met for completion of a degree program or program of study. Requirements include completion of a specified number of hours (128), prescribed individual courses for the degree program elected, and minimum GPA overall and within the major. Some degree programs require a minor field of study.
Degree Works: An online system that shows a student’s academic progress toward their UNA degree.
Delinquent: A term for a loan whose payments are not received on time.
Department: A unit within a college that brings together faculty in an academic discipline or area. For example, the College of Arts and Sciences has 17 departments with an array of majors, minors and certificate programs.
Department Head/Chair: The leader of a department.
Doctorate, or Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.): The highest degree achievable. Students usually receive a bachelor's degree and a master's degree before they earn their doctorate. UNA does not offer Doctorate programs. 
Double major: Term for pursuing two degrees concurrently. For example, students interested in pursuing a career as an art teacher for the public school system will pursue a double major in Art and Education and attain the Bachelor of Science degree in Art and Bachelor of Science degree in Education concurrently.
Drop/Add: After registration or pre-registration, a student may decide to withdraw (drop) from a course and/or add (enroll in) a course. Specific details on withdrawing from a course can be found in the Catalog. Pay attention to the deadlines which can be found in your schedule of classes. Courses may only be added through the first week of classes.
Elective: A course that a student chooses to take that may count toward degree requirements.
Enrollment: The process of selecting and enrolling in courses through portal. Also called registration. 
Expected Family Contribution: A value from the FAFSA that represents the amount a student or family should be able to contribute toward their college costs.
Faculty: All instructors or professors who teach for the university. Adjunct faculty are part-time instructors or professors.
FAFSA: The Free Application for Federal Student Aid. The FAFSA must be completed each year in order to receive need-based aid from the government, such as the Pell Grant or work-study awards.
Feeding the Pride: An initiative at UNA that houses the Food Pantry and other community resources as well as Meal Plan Scholarships. The pantry is operated by the Office of Student Engagement in GUC 163; 256-765-4248.
FERPA: Federal Education Rights and Privacy Act. This law governs how colleges protect and share student information.
Final Exam: An exam that typically is given during finals week, the last week of the semester.
Financial Aid: Financial support that students receive for college expenses. Some financial aid, such as loans, must be repaid, while other forms, such as grants or scholarships, do not need to be paid back. Collectively all the financial aid that students are offered is known as their financial aid package.
First-Generation Student: A student whose neither parent nor guardian have earned a four-year degree.
Fraternity: An organization of men to build community. Some provide housing so that members can congregate and live together.
Freshman: A first-year college student, or one who has earned fewer than 30 credit hours.
Full-Time Student: A student enrolled in at least 12 credit hours during the fall/spring and/or nine hours in the summer semesters.
Full-Time vs. Part-Time Enrollment: Students enrolled for 12 or more credit hours in a semester are considered full-time students. Students enrolled in less than 12 credit hours are considered part-time students.
FYE: Stands for First Year Experience (FYE) and is an opportunity for students to get comfortable with UNA  while developing skills for college success.
General Education (Gen Ed) ClassesCourse requirements that all students must complete to graduate. 
General Studies Component: Required of all degree programs offered by the university, general studies courses are the foundation of a college education. These courses are generally completed within the first two years of study.
Grade Point Average or GPA: Letter grades and grade point averages are used in determining student grades. Calculate your GPA by dividing the total number of quality points by the total credit hours attempted. The result is your GPA.
Graduate Assistants (GAs): GAs are full-time graduate students that work at least part-time on campus. 
Graduate Student: A student who has graduated with a bachelor's degree and is pursuing a master's or doctoral degree.
Graduate Teaching Assistant (GTA): Graduate student who teaches or assists in teaching undergraduate courses.
Grant: A form of financial aid that does not need to be repaid.
Hold: A restriction in portal that limits a student's ability to enroll, receive a diploma and/or other actions until the hold is removed.
Housing and Residence Life: The department that manages the residence halls.
In-State Student: A UNA student who is an Alabama resident.
Instructor/Professor: A faculty member who teaches.
Internship: A temporary professional experience typically in a student's career field or major. It can be paid or unpaid and can sometimes be taken for academic credit.
Intersession: Courses offered between semesters in January, May and August.
Junior: A third-year college student, or one who has earned at least 90 credit hours.
L Number: A nine-digit number found on your Mane Card and in your Portal profile.
Lab: Short for laboratory: a part of a course where a student completes hands-on activities. It is also a term used for spaces where some faculty conduct research.
Lecture (Lec.): A course where the teaching is done mostly through oral presentation.
Legacy Student: A student who is related to a person who graduated from UNA.
Leo: Real lion mascot that resides on campus. 
Liberal Arts: A term that refers to subjects such as humanities, social sciences, natural sciences and mathematics.
LionJobs: The UNA Career Center's Online Employment System. All internships, part-time jobs and full-time jobs are posted to LionJobs. It is required that all on campus jobs be posted to LionJobs. 
Loan: Financial aid that must be repaid. Student loans typically come from the government or from private banks.
Major: The concentration of courses required to earn a degree. For example, a biology major is pursuing a degree in biology and will take courses oriented to that area of interest.
Mane Card: Official UNA ID card. It is a meal card, library card, door access card, and way to may for many services on campus. In partnership with Listerhill, It can also be used as a debit card. 
Mane Market: UNA's dining service located in Rice Residence Hall. Students must use meal plan dining dollars or meal exchanges to purchase. 
Master's Degree: A graduate degree usually completed after the bachelor's degree; most commonly two years in length. 
Meal Plan: The number of weekly meals purchased at campus dining centers. For example, a student might be on a 14 meals per week meal plan.
Mentee: A student who receives support, guidance and advice from a mentor.
Mentor: A fellow student or professional on, or off campus, who provides support, guidance and advice to a mentee.
Midterm exams (aka midterms): Exams offered around the midpoint of a semester.
Minor: A secondary concentration of courses that a student elects to take to complement the major field of study. (Usually requires 18 credit hours in the secondary field).
Natural Science: A term that refers to subjects such as astronomy, biology, chemistry, physics, botany, archaeology and geology, among other disciplines.
Nonresident: An out-of-state student.
Nonresidential: Students who live off campus.
Nontraditional student: Most commonly describes a student starting college later in life rather than right after completing high school, or one who is a parent.
Office Hours: Specific times that faculty are available in their office to meet with students. Students are encouraged to take advantage of these opportunities, usually no appointment is needed.
Online Classes: Courses taught primarily online, typically using Canvas, and not in a classroom on campus.
Out-of-State Student: A student who is not a resident of Alabama. Tuition for out-of-state students at UNA is higher than in-state students.
Overload: A semester enrollment of over 18 credit hours, which requires approval of the college's deans' office.
Part-Time Student: A student enrolled in fewer than 12 credit hours during a fall/spring semester, or fewer than nine credit hours during the summer semester.
Peer Mentor: A student who provides support, guidance and advice as a mentor to fellow student.
Pell Grant: Federal financial aid for undergraduate students with financial need; it does not have to be repaid.
Plagiarism: A severe form of cheating when credit is not given to another person's work or ideas. It may result in a failing grade on the assignment or failure of the course.
Portal: The online system students access with their UNA email to enroll in classes, view their student bill, access their Degree Works, see advisor's name, apply for graduation and complete other requirements.
Pre-requisite: A course that must be completed before enrolling in another course, often a higher level course. Pre-requisites are noted in course descriptions found in the university catalog. For example, Spanish I is a prerequisite for Spanish II.
Private University/College: A university that does not receive state funding. Birmingham-Southern College is a private college. 
Professor: A faculty member who has a Ph.D. or other equivalent degree. A professor may advance from assistant to associate to full professor.
Public University: A university that receives state funding. Tuition is lower for students who are residents of that state than for out-of-state students. UNA is a public university.
Quality Points: Points assigned for GPA calculation based on the grade the student earned in the course. UNA uses the 4 point system meaning that an A=4 points, B=3 points, C=2 points, D=1 point and F=0 points.
Quiz: A short assessment of knowledge given to students in courses.
Readmission: The process of being accepted back to the university after academic dismissal.
Recitation: A small course section often taken along with a lecture.
Registrar: The university official who oversees enrollment, student grades and transcripts.
Reinstatement: The process of being accepted back to a major in a college within the university, following academic dismissal.
Resident: Commonly used to refer to in-state students.
Resident Advisors (RAs): RAs are full-time undergraduate students that serve as educators, community builders and mentors to the students on their floors. 
Residential: Term that refers to students who live on campus in residence halls or apartments.
Scholarship: A form of financial aid that does not need to be repaid.
Secondary Major: A complementary major completed along with a primary major. It is similar to a minor but requires more hours to complete.
Semester: The time period during which courses are offered. UNA offers 16-week fall and spring semesters, and a shorter summer semester.
Senior: A fourth-year college student, or one who has earned more than 90 credit hours.
Senior Institution: A college or university offering baccalaureate degree programs.
SOAR: Stands for Student Orientation, Advisement, and Registration (SOAR). SOAR allows you to learn about the University's services, resources, and involvement opportunities. You will also participate in academic advising and pre-register for classes. 
Social Science: The study of human society and the social relationships. Often used to refer to the following disciplines: American Ethnic studies, anthropology, economics, gender studies, geography, history, law, politics, psychology and sociology, among other disciplines.
Sophomore: A second-year college student, or one who has earned more than 30 and fewer than 60 credit hours.
Sorority: An organization of women to build community. Some provide housing so that members can congregate and live together.
Subsidized Student Loan: A loan that is not charged interest and does not require payments while the student is in school.
Syllabus: A document that describes important information about a course. It may include items such as office hours, required books or other materials, assignments, due dates, grading scale, expectations, procedures and policies.
Teaching Assistant (TA): An undergraduate student who usually has completed the course and assists an instructor with a course. Duties may be similar to a graduate teaching assistant.
Term: Another name for a semester.
The Student Rec Center: The recreation center for students. It offers various exercise options free to students.
Traditional Student: Most commonly describes a student starting college right after completing high school and who is not a parent.
Transcript: An official, permanent academic record of a college student. It consists of courses taken, grades received, academic status, academic honors and proficiency and/or exit exams taken.
Transfer Credits: Credits from courses completed outside UNA that are transferred in for academic credit.
Transfer Student: A college student who completed courses at another college or university before enrolling at UNA. 
TRIO: UNA's TRIO SSS program is a federally funded program that provides academic support to qualifying students to help ensure that you are successful in your educational goals at UNA. Visit their website to learn more.
Tutor: A trained current student who assists other students in learning course material. UNA students have free access to tutors.
UNA email: UNA email provided by Outlook, accessible with a student email address and password.
UNAportal Username: This comes before in a UNA email address.
Undergraduate: A student who is pursuing but has not yet received a bachelor's degree.
University Success Center: Center located on the second floor of the commons that provides advising services and tutoring. The Success Center houses the Center for Writing Excellence and Mathematics Learning Center. 
Unsubsidized Student Loan: A loan that is charged interest while the student is in school.
UPC: University Program Council is a student lead council that plans and provides student experiences and campus events such as Step Sing, the Spring Concert, and Campus Movie nights. 
Waitlist: An option in portal when a course is full, where students can join a queue, or waitlist, to enroll in the course. If room in the course becomes available, the waitlist order is typically used to allow students to enroll.
Withdrawal: The process of ending enrollment in a course. Students may withdraw from courses without penalty early in a semester. Withdrawing later results in a Withdraw, or W, designation being placed on the transcript to indicate that the class was begun but not finished. The W does not count toward the GPA calculation. For withdrawing from a course, see Complete Withdrawal.
Work-Study: Part-time work offered by the university as part of your financial aid package from the federal government.


Updated February 2024