Understanding U.S. Education Terms
ACT: The main standardized test accepted by Illinois State University taken by college-bound, U.S. high school students. International freshman from English-speaking countries must also take this exam or the SAT. Students who are not native English speakers are exempt from this requirement. They must take the TOEFL or IELTS instead.
Campus: The area of Normal, Illinois, USA owned and occupied by Illinois State University. Our campus is 390 hectares (960 acres). View our campus map.
Class Standing: An undergraduate student's status within the University based on the number of semester hours they have earned. A freshman, or first-year student, has earned up to 30 hours; a sophomore, or second-year student, has earned up to 60 hours; a junior, or third-year student, has earned up to 90 hours; and a senior, or fourth-year student, has earned 90 hours or more. A typical undergraduate program requires 120 semester hours.
College: A generic term for university or relating to a university ("college student" or "where are you going to college?") or a smaller unit within a university such as Illinois State's College of Business or College of Applied Science and Technology.
Course Articulation: How your courses from other colleges transfer to Illinois State. The Office of the University Registrar handles course articulation at Illinois State.
Declaration of Finances: Financial document required by Illinois State University and the U.S. federal government for students seeking F-1 immigration status. Your declaration of finances must show assured support for your first year and projected support for all remaining years of study.
Dorm: Shortened form of "dormitory"; also known as "residence hall," where most students live on campus.
DS-2019: An immigration document necessary to obtain a J-1 student visa.
East Campus: An area of the Illinois State campus that includes two residence halls (Hewitt and Manchester).
English Language Institute: If you need to improve your English skills before beginning a degree program, our English Language Institute may be right for you. The classes integrate training in reading, writing, speaking, and listening with academic development in a variety of subject areas.
Fall Semester: Illinois State's academic term beginning in August and ending in December. This is the beginning of the traditional school year. View the current academic calendar.
Fees: Additional costs charged to students by the University based on the number of semester hours in which they are enrolled. Fees pay for things like health services and university improvement.
Full-time Student: An undergraduate who takes at least 12 semester hours or a graduate student who takes at least 9 semester hours. As an international student with F-1 or J-1 visa status, you must be enrolled as a full-time student. See also part-time student.
GMAT (Graduate Management Admission Test): A test used to measure a student's ability to succeed in a business or management graduate program. Many U.S. colleges and universities, including Illinois State, use the results of this test for admission into MBA programs.
GPA (Grade Point Average): an average of grades earned, weighted by the number of credit hours earned.
Graduate assistantship: A paid teaching or research position offered by schools or departments at Illinois State that pays a small salary and includes a full tuition waiver. This is the most popular way for international graduate students to fund their studies at Illinois State.
GRE (Graduate Record Examination): A test used to measure a student's reasoning and critical thinking skills in writing, reading, and mathematics. Many U.S. colleges and universities use the results of this test for admission into graduate programs. Depending on your intended major and your undergraduate GPA, you may or may not need to take the GRE for admission to an Illinois State graduate program.
Graduate school: Classes attended after completing a U.S. bachelor's degree. Graduate programs include master's degrees and doctorates (Ph.D.).
I-20: An immigration document necessary to obtain an F-1 student visa.
IELTS (International English Language Testing System): A test that measures how well a non-native English speaker listens, reads, writes and speaks English. Non-native speakers of English must submit either IELTS or TOEFL scores when they apply to Illinois State. International students who speak English as their first language must submit ACT or SAT scores instead.
In-state Tuition: The cost of tuition for residents of the state of Illinois. Residents of other states or countries pay out-of-state tuition.
International Student: Students on a visa studying at Illinois State. U.S. citizens and U.S. permanent residents are considered "domestic" students.
Last Name: In America, the last name is the surname, family name, or given name. For example, "Smith" is John Smith's last name.
Middle Name: A name most Americans have after their first name and before their family name. This name is used mostly for official purposes such as verifying one's identity. Most Americans go by first and last name only. The first letter of this name is known as the middle initial. For example, "Bert" is John Bert Smith's middle name.
My.IllinoisState.edu: After you arrive on campus, My.IllinoisState.edu will be the website you use most to get information about your status at Illinois State. You’ll use it to register for classes, confirm attendance, check your grades, and more.
Off-campus: Outside the University's property boundaries. View our campus map. Off-campus apartments are not owned by the University. Typically, international students are not allowed to work off-campus jobs due to immigration restrictions.
Office of International Studies and Programs: The unit at Illinois State University that assists international students with immigration as well as many other social, academic, and cultural matters. Often referred to as "International Studies".
On-campus: Within the University's property boundaries. View our campus map. Students who work on-campus jobs are employed by the University. On-campus housing means residences halls or apartments owned by the University.
Quad: The area in the center of the Illinois State University campus surrounded by academic buildings. Students often meet and spend time on the Quad.
SAT (Scholastic Assessment Test): Another standardized achievement test taken by U.S. high school students and used to determine college admission. ACT is more commonly received by Illinois State, but you may take the SAT to meet admission requirements. Students who are not native English speakers are exempt from this requirement. They must take the TOEFL or IELTS instead.
Semester Hour: A unit of measurement for your coursework. Most courses are worth 3-4 semester hours (also known as "credits" or "hours"). The number of semester hours is based on the amount of time you will spend in the classroom, but you should expect to spend much more time studying. Undergraduate students typically take 12-15 hours each semester. Graduate students take about 9 hours. See also full-time student and part-time student.
SEVIS: The Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) is a database used by U.S. schools to record information about all students who will need a student visa to enter the United States. It is also used by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the U.S. Department of State.
Social Security Number:A number used to track employment and taxes for U.S. residents. U.S. citizens are typically assigned a Social Security Number at birth. Some international students with certain types of visas may be eligible for a Social Security Number, if you are eligible to work.
South Campus: An area of the Illinois State campus that includes four residence halls (Atkin, Colby, Hamilton, and Whitten) and a dining center (Southside in Feeney).
Spring Semester: Illinois State's academic term beginning in January and ending in May. This is the end of the traditional school year. View the current academic calendar.
Statement of Transfer Credit: An official report issued by the Office of the University Registrar that shows how your post-secondary courses taken at another institution have been transferred to Illinois State.
Summer Session: Illinois State's academic term between the Spring and Fall semesters. Classes are typically condensed into eight weeks, meeting twice as often. Summer is the time of year American schools close for vacation. View the current academic calendar.
TOEFL (Test Of English as a Foreign Language): A test taken either on paper, on a computer, or over the internet that measures the ability of non-native speakers of English to use and understand the language. The minimum TOEFL iBT score for admission to Illinois State is 79. The average is 94. Non-native speakers of English must submit either TOEFL or IELTS scores when they apply to Illinois State. International students who speak English as their first language must submit ACT or SAT scores instead.
Tuition: The cost of college instruction based on the number of courses taken.
Undeclared Status: A temporary status for students who have either not chosen a major or who were not admitted into their preferred major.
University Logon Identification (ULID): The account you’ll use to access your email, the University network, and other electronic resources.
Watterson Towers: The largest residence hall on the Illinois State campus that includes a dining center and restaurants. This is the tallest building between Chicago and St. Louis.
West Campus: An area of the Illinois State campus that includes three residence halls (Haynie, Wilkins, and Wright) and a dining center (Marketplace in Linkins Center).