New Student Glossary of Terms

Academic advisor / Advisor

Friendly, trained, faculty and staff who can help you register for courses, explore career options, and stay on track for graduation. Incoming students are assigned an academic advisor and can also seek help at the campus Advising Center.

Academic year

The period of time that students attend classes, spanning from the first day of fall semester to the last day of spring semester.

Academic probation

New or continuing students who do not have a successful semester. A successful semester means that you have earned a 2.0 GPA or above and that you have received passing grades for at least 12-credits for the semester. (Also see: success plan)


A period of time when students can make changes to their semester schedules by dropping and adding courses.


A formal process students can participate in if they feel like they’ve been evaluated unfairly. 

Audit (see: Degree Audit)


Award letter

A document that outlines the amount of financial aid you will receive (loans, grants, work-study etc.)

Bachelor’s degree

A degree that is awarded to a student by a college, usually after four years of full-time study.


An online learning tool used to access important course information, submit assignments, and more. 

Bursar (see: Student accounts)


Campus Technology Services (CTS)

A campus office that provides computing support to students and faculty.

Chair (see: Department chair)



Clubs, student organizations, leadership positions, and other fun things that happen outside of the classroom. You can find a full listing of student organizations in Laker Life.


An office in the Marano Campus Center that houses lots of helpful resources for students including: Career Services, Community Services, Experiential Courses & Engaged Learning (EXCEL), Orientation, and the Compass resource room. 



Convocation (see: Torchlight)



Similar to an internship, except the opportunity has to be a full-time, paid experience. Co-ops last 12-26 weeks and help students to get valuable career experience during their time in college. 

Course number

A 3-digit number used to represent a specific course in a specific department. For example: Strategic Communication in Business is coded as COM 211.

Course withdrawal

When a student decides to stop taking a class after the add/drop period has passed. This requires instructor and department chair permission. Note: withdrawing from a course can affect financial aid and scholarships by dropping the number of earned credit hours for the semester. Always consult your academic advisor first. 

Credit hour

A unit that measures the number of classroom hours per week throughout the semester. (3-credit hours = 3-hours of classroom time for that course per week)

CTS (see: Campus Technology Services)


Dean of Students

A staff member who oversees helpful student services. The Dean serves as a helpful resource for students who are experiencing difficulties and for those who may need to take a temporary or permanent leave from campus. 

Degree Audit (Degree Works)

A progress report that lets you check on your academic progress. The audit includes courses you have taken and successfully completed AND courses that you still need to pass in order to receive your degree. You should always review your degree audit with your advisor to make sure you are on track.

Degree Works (also see: Degree Audit)

The software used to access your degree audit. You can access Degree Works through MyOswego. 

Department Chair

The “boss” of each academic department who oversees faculty in that area. 


Courses that are outside of your major’s core classes. There are tons of interesting classes that you can choose from that will meet your degree requirements. Always meet with your advisor to discuss your course schedule prior to registration. 

Excelsior Scholarship

A scholarship program for New York State residents that allows them to attend SUNY Oswego tuition-free. Students who have been awarded the Excelsior Scholarship need to successfully complete at least 12-credits each term and a total of 30-credits toward his/her degree program each year. 


Exams that take place during the last week of the semester. Your schedule will look little different this week, so make sure you pay close attention to your syllabus. 

First-Generation College Student

A student who is the first in their family to attend college.

First-Year Student

A student who is attending college for the first time in their first year. Also referred to as a “freshman.”

Full-Time Student

A student who is registered for at least 12-credit hours per semester.

General education classes

A variety of courses that help Oswego students to become well rounded learners. General education courses span a variety of topic areas to total 30-33 credits.

Good academic standing

Students who have a successful semester (earn a GPA of 2.0 or higher and complete at least 12-credit hours).

Grade Point Average (GPA)

An average of all semester final grades. You can calculate your GPA here


Holds can limit a student’s ability to register for courses, order transcripts, etc. Types of holds can be found here.


A formal opportunity for students to apply their classroom knowledge in a “real world” workplace setting. Students can earn credit for internships through EXCEL: Experiential Courses and Engaged Learning

Laker Leaders

Students who are hired by New Student Orientation to work directly with new students and their families. (Remember your Laker Leaders from Orientation?)

Laker Life

A site that lists all of SUNY Oswego’s registered student organizations and that announces campus events. 

Laker NetID

A unique identification (usually a combination of  your first initial and last name) that you will use to access your email, MyOswego, Blackboard, and other university accounts.


A group of courses required by a college in order to receive a degree in a specific content area. Here’s a list

Master’s degree

Typically one or two years of study following a bachelor’s degree.


Enrolled at the college.


Exams or grades usually distributed in the middle of a semester.


A secondary discipline that you can declare (much like a major). Here’s a list.


An online portal where you can access important student records, register for classes, declare your major, and update personal information.

Office hours

Times when you can meet with your professors to discuss class material and you performance in the course. These times are listed on your syllabus. 


The ability to register for more than the maximum number of credits allowed in a semester (with advisor approval).

Part-time student

A student who is taking less than 9 or fewer credit hours per semester.


An academic requirement that must be satisfied before enrolling in a specific class.


The office on campus that keeps your official records safe (grades, degree audit, etc.)


The period of time when students can select and enroll in classes for the following semester.

Residence Halls

A fancy name for “dorms.” 

Resident student

A student who lives on campus in the residence halls (dorms). 


A half-year term in college-- usually lasting 15 weeks. 


A document that outlines the goals and objectives of a course. This is considered a “contract” between the course instructors and the students in a course. Make sure you read these documents carefully, as they include important information about grading, textbooks, assignments, due dates, and expectations. 

Teaching Assistant

A student who assists an instructor with content delivery.


The ceremony is an Oswego tradition where alumni, faculty and staff pass on the “Torch of Learning” to incoming students. It’s your welcome into the SUNY Oswego family!


An official copy of your academic record.

Transfer student

A student who earned college credits at another school before being accepted and attending Oswego.

University withdrawal

A student experiencing extenuating may wish to withdrawal from the university and should contact the Dean of Students.

Withdrawal (see: course withdrawal or university withdrawal)



A type of on-campus job.

* Created by Mallory Bower, First Year Experience Coordinator, Office of Experiential Courses & Engaged Learning (EXCEL)