Preparing for College

Preparing for your college search

It’s never too early—or too late—to start thinking about your future as a college student. Regardless of where you are in high school, there are steps you can take to help you make a smooth transition into higher education.

Do you need help navigating the college search process? Your IU Fort Wayne admissions counselor is here to assist you!

College search glossary

You’re going to hear a lot of terms throughout your college search process, and we want to make sure that you are as well informed as possible. Here are some common terms and what they mean.

  • Academic advisor: A professional faculty or staff mentor at a school who advises a student on planning their academic and professional goals. An academic advisor will help students identify which classes to take to ensure on-time degree completion.
  • Admissions counselor: A professional staff member in a school’s admissions office who assists a student during their college search process.
  • Admission-based scholarships: A form of scholarship automatically awarded upon admission when students meet specific academic criteria. These are sometimes called automatic or guaranteed scholarships. IU Fort Wayne's admission-based scholarship deadline is February 1.
  • Associate degree: An undergraduate degree program that typically lasts two academic years. Students admitted into associate degree programs are not eligible for admission-based scholarships.

  • Bachelor’s degree: An undergraduate degree program that typically lasts four academic years.
  • Bursar: A financial administrator for a college or university. The Office of the Bursar typically handles bursar services for students at IU Fort Wayne.

  • Certificate program: An undergraduate or graduate academic program that typically lasts one academic year. Students admitted into certificate programs are not eligible for admission-based scholarships. Not all certificate programs will qualify a student for state or federal financial aid.
  • Cost of attendance: The total dollar amount it will cost a student to attend a university. This includes tuition, fees, room and board, and other expenses such as textbooks and transportation costs.
  • Credit hour: A unit of measure of college credits, which are typically based on the number of hours you spend in the classroom. Typically, you can expect to spend three hours per credit hour each week doing work for a class (both in and out of the classroom). For example, if you take a 3 credit hour class, you can expect to be in the classroom for about two and a half hours and working on assignments throughout the week for another six and a half hours.

  • Financial aid: A general term for financial support given to a student by a college or the state or federal government. Financial aid is available in three categories: grants, loans, and scholarships.
  • First-generation student: A student who is in the college search (or application) process whose parents did not receive a bachelor’s degree.
  • Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA): A form that is completed by students and their families each year to determinea student’s eligibility for financial aid. The FAFSA is available online beginning October 1. IU Fort Wayne's school code for FAFSA is E40457.

Indiana 21st Century Scholars: A program available to select students in Indiana that provides up to four years of tuition at an Indiana college or university. Students apply for the 21st Century Scholars program in seventh or eighth grade.

Learning communities: A discipline-based first-year course in which students work closely together to transition into their academic careers.

  • Master’s degree: A graduate degree program that typically lasts two academic years. Students are usually eligible to apply for a master’s degree program after they have earned a bachelor’s degree.
  • Midwest Student Exchange Program (MSEP): The Midwest Student Exchange Program, or MSEP, is a multistate tuition reciprocity program for residents of Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, and Wisconsin. Through MSEP, public institutions agree to charge students no more than 150 percent of the in-state resident tuition rate for specific programs; private institutions offer a 10 percent reduction on their tuition rates. IU Fort Wayne participates in MSEP.

Orientation: program for new students that often is required by colleges prior to the start of the academic year. Using a variety of methods and activities, orientation introduces students to the school and prepares them for enrollment.

Placement exam/test: Academic tests used to asses which level of a course a student should take in a given subject. New IU Fort Wayne students are typically required to take placement exams in math and English and have the option of taking exams in select sciences and foreign languages.

Residency: A determination of where a student is from for fee-payment purposes (in state or out of state). The Indiana University Board of Trustees, which establishes the rules for determining residency, identifies Indiana residents as those who have lived in the state of Indiana for 12 consecutive months for reasons other than education.

Scholarship: A financial award given to a student by a school or another entity that does not need to be paid back. Students often are required to meet and maintain specific criteria to be awarded and keep a scholarship.

University ID: A unique identification number assigned to students at a school, typically after admission. IU Fort Wayne's university ID is 10 digits and can be found in your admission letter.