someone googling college lingo on a tablet

College Lingo

| 4 minute read

Starting a new school is like traveling to a new place. It comes with new people, a new culture, and even a new language. Rather than spending your first days at Southern Miss in a state of confusion, we wanted to share with you our Rosetta Stone for college lingo to keep you sailing smoothly into your academic experience. Below, you’ll find a list of some of the most popular terms you’ll need to know as a Golden Eagle.

Academic Advisor | A faculty or staff member in your academic area who is assigned to help you with your academic planning is your advisor.

Academic Calendar | Found on the Registrar’s website, this calendar highlights all the important academic deadlines and campus holidays.

Academic College | Academic colleges are clusters of courses of study available to students at Southern Miss.

Advisement | Advisement occurs when you meet with your academic advisor each semester to discuss how you are progressing toward your degree, to finalize your class schedule for the upcoming term and to talk about your plans after graduation.

Canvas | Canvas is a website that you will log into using your SOAR ID and password to access online classes and supplemental material for your courses.

Commencement | Also known as graduation, Commencement is the ceremony that honors the completion of your degree.

Credit Hour | A credit hour is equivalent to one hour of class time per week. Courses are usually measured in credit hours, with the average being three or four.

Dean | A dean is an administrator in charge of an academic college or other major area of student life.

Degree Progress Report | A report that shows the progress a student has made toward degree completion.

Disburse | When funds (like your financial aid and/or scholarship) have been applied to your account in Business Services, this is referred to as a disbursement.

The Dome | The Aubrey K. Lucas Administration Building, referred to as “The Dome,” is the focal point of campus and houses the offices of the University president and vice presidents.

FAFSA | The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is required to be considered for federal student loans, grants, and some scholarships.

FERPA | The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) protects the confidentiality of your educational records. You must waive your FERPA rights in order for you parents or guardians to have access to your Southern Miss records.

Full-Time Students | This status refers to enrollment in 12 or more credit hours for the fall/spring semester and 9 or more credit hours for the summer semester for undergraduate students. Full-time status for graduate students is 9 or more credit hours for fall/spring and 3 hours for summer.

GEC | General Education Curriculum (GEC) refers to course requirements designed to help you have a general background in several areas outside of your major area of study.

GEWW | GEWW is an abbreviation for Golden Eagles Welcome Week, a week-long extended orientation program for all new students.

GPA | GPA is an abbreviation for grade point average.

Major | A subject or career field that serves as the focus of study in a degree plan is called a major.

Minor | A secondary concentration in a specific subject or career field is called a minor.

NSRP | NSRP is the abbreviation for the Office of New Student and Retention Programs.

OOL | OOL is the abbreviation for the Office of Online Learning.

OTP | OTP is the abbreviation for the Office of Orientation and Transition Programs.

Prerequisite | Prerequisites are courses that students are required to take prior to registering for an upper-level course.

Registrar | The Office of the Registrar is responsible for the official records of all University students.

The Rock | The Rock is the nickname for M. M. Roberts Stadium where the Golden Eagle football team takes the field.

SOAR | SOAR, the University’s online records system, is a website where you can add/drop classes, view degree progress, accept/decline financial aid and view grades.

SMTTT | The University’s official motto is “Southern Miss to the Top” and is commonly abbreviated, SMTTT.

Syllabus | Each instructor distributes an outline or overview of the course at the beginning of each semester. The syllabus usually includes course expectations, exam and project dates, and the instructor’s contact information.

Transcript | Your official academic record, also known as a transcript, can be obtained from the Office of the Registrar.

Tuition | Tuition is the amount of money charged for classes.

Verification | Verification occurs when the Office of Financial Aid requires additional documentation from you in order to evaluate your eligibility for federal financial aid.

Withdrawal | The withdrawal process means to formally drop all of your courses so that you are no longer a student at the University. 

Don’t be confused by new college lingo. The best way to keep up to date is to stay involved. So ask your professors. Ask your advisors. Ask us! We’re here to help. And take a moment to peruse our blogs for more nuggets you might need along the way!

Office of Online Learning

All blog posts are written and maintained by the Office of Online Learning at The University of Southern Mississippi. We provide support to online students, to faculty teaching online courses, and to units seeking to develop, grow, or improve online programs at the University.

For more information, email us at