10 Terms to Remember before Applying to University Abroad

Attending university is an important step in one’s life. It is the beginning of adulthood, starting from the decision of which school to attend and which degree to pursue. But before you start dreaming about university life, you will have to go through the steps of applying. 

There are all sorts of important terms that you must understand before applying to your university of choice. Here are 10 terms that you should know to ensure that your enrollment does not encounter any issues, plus some essential concepts to prepare you for university life in a foreign country. Good luck!

College Credits

College credits measure the number of hours in a course. It is defined by the number of lecture hours a professor teaches during the week. For example, three credits would mean that the class runs for three hours each week, either in one three-hour class or two one-hour-and-a-half classes. Courses with laboratory time would have more credits because there are one to two additional hours added on top of the lecture time.

Credits also dictate the fees you will have to pay to complete your course. Universities usually set a standard amount per credit. So to compute this, just multiply that amount by the number of credits per course.

You collect credits after you finish an entire course. Every semester, there is usually a required amount of credits that you must complete. Likewise, you will need to accumulate a set number of credits to complete a degree and graduate from university.


A deferral refers to the act of postponing one’s enrollment to a university once accepted. For example, Anne was accepted to Harvard University. But due to the pandemic, she would not be able to travel to the United States for school. So she asks for a deferral, which lets her enroll at a later date during a different semester. Deferrals are often allowed a period of up to one year.

Financial Aid

Financial aid is money given or loaned to help pay for college, either as a scholarship or a sponsorship. This is usually granted to students who have exceptional grades, are active in extra-curricular activities (such as sports, music, and art), or belong to lower-income families. Financial aid can be full or partial. Full financial aid means that all fees are taken care of: tuition, school supplies, student housing, etc. On the other hand, partial financial aid means that only some fees are paid for, while the remaining fees are still paid.

Financial aid may come from the university itself, the government, or private organizations and individuals.

If eligible, it is helpful to apply for financial aid to reduce high university fees’ financial burden.

Grade Point Average (GPA)

Grade point average or GPA is a metric of a student’s overall academic performance. It is measured by the total number of points achieved (this is based on and differs according to the individual grading systems per university) divided by the total number of college credits earned. It shows you how well you have done in your courses on average.

Weighted Grade Point Average (WGPA) measures overall academic performance, as well. However, WGPA considers the difficulty of each course, assigning a different metric to them altogether.


The registrar is your primary point of reference when applying for university. He or she is in charge of accepting, keeping, and tracking the documents submitted for your application. If you need to retrieve any of your documents, including ones you may have accumulated during your time in university, you will find everything with the registrar.

Student Housing / Room and Board

Student housing refers to on-campus or off-campus lodging for students. This is a significant term to remember for students going to school in a foreign university since you will most likely need to stay in student housing while living abroad. Student housing often refers to dormitories. Rooms are set for one to four people per bedroom, and bathrooms are common for all students.

On the other hand, room and board are used to call the fees you must pay for student housing plus meals taken during the school year. When applying to universities abroad, it is important to consider room and board when computing for expenses.


A transcript is an official document that shows the coursework you have achieved. It records the courses you have taken and the corresponding grades you got for each. You have transcripts at every point of your education. Your high school transcript is usually needed to apply for university and apply for financial aid. Later on, your university transcript may be needed for job applications.


Tuition is the amount of money you must pay to the university every semester or year for your courses. Tuition only covers the instructions (i.e., college credits) and does not include other fees such as room and board, books, and other course requirements. Tuition charges are different per university and can go higher or lower depending on various factors, like if the university is publicly or privately funded.


An undergraduate is a person who is attending university for an associate or bachelor’s degree. On the other hand, a postgraduate is a person who already has an associate or bachelor’s degree but is continuing their education by enrolling in further academic or professional courses to achieve a Masters or Doctorate.

Waiting List

A university’s waiting list contains a list of applicants who may be enrolled in their chosen course once there is an available slot. Students on the waiting list have not been rejected, but at the same time, they have not been fully accepted. Universities wait for their accepted students to respond, and if some students choose not to enroll, then their slots are forfeited to the students on the waiting list. 

In some universities, students on the waiting list have been accepted to the university, but not to the degree they have chosen to pursue. This may be because the degree can only accept a limited number of enrollees. In this case, students may choose to pursue a different degree or move forward with general courses until a slot opens up in their first choice later on.


LingualBox helps you prepare for university abroad not only by teaching you essential English skills but by guiding you through the ins and outs of life abroad. Book a class with one of our teachers today!

Jica Simpas is a writer based in Metro Manila, Philippines. She has over two years of writing experience in producing travel and food-related content. She is currently exploring new writing ventures to expand her practice.