Words and phrases to know

Here is a list of words and terms that you might need to know when you apply or get ready for college.

AB 540

This is a state law that allows students who have completed three years in a California high school and earned a diploma or equivalent to qualify for exemption from out-of-state tuition, even if they are not legally California residents. This applies to both undocumented students and U.S. citizens who were previously California residents.


For most students, De Anza will use high school transcript and GPA information to assess their level of knowledge in Language Arts and Math, so they can be placed in the right courses for their circumstances and goals. In some cases, the college may use other assessment methods. Assessment is sometimes referred to as "Placement."

Associate Degree

This is a degree that is usually awarded by a community college. It generally takes two or more years to earn, by taking a combination of general education classes and courses required for a particular major.

Bachelor's Degree

This is a degree that is generally awarded by a university or four-year college. It usually takes four or more years to earn, by taking a combination of general education classes, lower-division major courses, upper-division major courses and electives. Some of these classes may be taken at a community college.

California College Promise (BOG Fee Waiver)

This is a state program that waives enrollment fees for eligible community college students. It used to be called the Board of Governors, or BOG, Fee Waiver, but it's now called the California College Promise. The Financial Aid office can help you apply for this program.

EOPS (Equal Opportunity Programs and Services)

Equal Opportunity Programs and Services provides assistance for low-income and educationally disadvantaged students at California public colleges and universities.

ESL (English as a Second Language)

This is a name for courses that are offered to non-native English speakers with various levels of ability. Students usually take assessments to determine what level of course they need.

GE (General Education) Requirements

These are required courses, outside a student's major, that are usually taken during the first two years of college. They are intended to provide an overview of subjects that are deemed important for a well-rounded education.

FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid)

This is an online application that requires students to provide information about their financial circumstances (or their parents') in order to be considered for state and federal assistance – including grants, loans and other forms of aid. 

Financial Aid

This can include scholarships, grants, loans and fee waivers. It's also the short way of referring to the office on campus that helps students find financial assistance for college.

International Students

These are students from foreign countries who visit the United States to attend college, generally on a student (F-1) visa with specific conditions for remaining in the United States.


This is the academic subject that a student selects as an area of concentration. Students must declare a major to qualify for priority enrollment, and then take required courses in that major to earn a degree or certificate.


In some cases, students may select a minor or academic subject in which they are interested, in addition to a major. A minor may have fewer course requirements than a major. A minor isn't required for a certificate, degree or transfer.


Orientation is a scheduled program that introduces new students to college services and academic processes, such as registering for classes and preparing an educational plan.


See "Assessment" above.


Colleges and universities either have quarter or semester terms. Quarter terms are generally 10-12 weeks, with three quarters per academic year, plus a summer session. Semester terms are generally 16-18 weeks, with two semesters per academic year. De Anza follows a quarter system.


Transfer is a shorthand term for the process in which a student leaves community college and continues her or his education at a four-year university. This may – but doesn't necessarily –  involve earning an Associate Degree. It generally requires two years' of community college work to meet general education and lower-division major requirements.

Transferable Course

This refers to a course that another university will recognize and allow a transfer student to count toward earning a bachelor's degree. Some community college units are not transferable as they are below college level or not recognized as equivalent to a university course.


Credit units are a measurement of a student's attendance and satisfactory completion of a course.

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