College Admissions Glossary

Applying for College: Timeline | Researching Colleges | RecommendationsActivities | Essays | Glossary

National College Match Glossary

College Partners

Top colleges in the nation that have partnered with QuestBridge and are committed to supporting high-achieving, low-income students. They are dedicated to meeting 100% of demonstrated financial need. 

College Prep Scholar

A high school junior selected by QuestBridge as a strong candidate for admission to our college partners through the National College Match.


A student selected by QuestBridge as a competitive applicant for the Match and our college partners. Finalists are eligible to be considered for early admission and a Match Scholarship to our college partners. 


The process of ranking schools to be admitted early to a QuestBridge college partner with a full-four year scholarship.

National College Match

A college admission and scholarship application process that helps high-achieving, low-income high school seniors gain admission and full four-year scholarships to the nation's most selective colleges. 

QuestBridge National College Match Scholarship

Also referred to as the Match Scholarship. A full four-year scholarship for matched students worth over $200,000.* Our college partners use their own funds and state and federal aid to cover the full cost of tuition, housing and food, books and supplies, and travel. All Match Scholarships are loan-free and require no parental contribution. They may contain a student contribution in the form of work-study, summer contribution, and/or student savings.

QuestBridge Regular Decision

The process through which Finalists who are not matched can apply for free to any of the QuestBridge college partners. Although the Match Scholarship is not offered through QuestBridge Regular Decision, Finalists can still receive generous financial aid, if admitted. Admission decisions and financial aid packages for QuestBridge Regular Decision are released by college partners in the spring.

QuestBridge Scholar

A Finalist who attends any QuestBridge college partner through the Match, QuestBridge Regular Decision, or other admissions processes.

Ranking Colleges

The process through which students submit a list to QuestBridge of up to 15 college partners that they wish to be considered for the Match. Students rank up to 15 colleges in their preferred order of consideration.

*Some schools may require students to submit financial information each year to qualify.


General College Admissions Glossary

Acceptance Rate

The percentage of students accepted by a college.

Binding Admission

Requires students to withdraw all other applications and attend the college if admitted. This agreement is seen in Early Decision applications, and in binding QuestBridge colleges for the Match.

Common/Coalition/Universal Application

Standardized college application forms accepted by many colleges.

Core subjects

Academic courses consisting of Math, Science, English, Social Studies, and a Foreign Language.


If a student is “deferred” when applying early to a college, they are neither accepted nor rejected. Deferred students are pushed into the Regular Decision applicant pool and evaluated at a later date. They will be either admitted or denied admissions in the spring, with all Regular Decision applicants. Similarly, students who are not matched are deferred, not rejected, from the colleges they ranked.

Deferred Admission

The option for students to defer (or “delay”) their offer of admission for up to two years. Students must work with the admissions office to see if this is a possibility.

Early Action (EA)

A non-binding admissions process that allows students to apply to a college early in November. Typically, the admissions decision is given in December, and the student is offered admission, denied admission, or deferred. Single-Choice Early Action is a variant of Early Action (see definition below).

Early Decision (ED)

A binding admissions process that allows students to apply to a college early. Students are only allowed to apply to one college ED, and are obligated to attend that college if accepted.

First Generation

Students whose parents have not graduated from a 4-year college in the U.S.

Fly-in Program

College visit programs that allows students to visit a college on the basis of admission or selection to a pre-college program.

Likely School

A college where, based on the average GPA and test scores of accepted students, the likelihood of being admitted is very high.

Personal Statement

An essay, also known as the college application essay/biographical essay, that gives admissions officers insight into the student’s character, personality, motivation, and background.


Pre-SAT test that is typically taken in 10th or 11th grade and help students prepare for the SAT.

Reach School

A college where admission might be more difficult, based on the average GPA, test scores of accepted students, and the college’s overall admission requirements.

Regular Decision

The normal college application process by which students apply by published dates.

Retention Rate

The percentage of students who return to a college for their sophomore year. This is an indicator of student satisfaction.

Rolling Admission

Instead of waiting to judge all applications concurrently, colleges with rolling admission will review applications, and determine acceptance status, as applications are sent in.


Standardized college entrance tests that many 4-year colleges require for admission.

School Profile

Provides summary information about the high school's student body, curricular offerings, and grading system.

School Report

A report prepared by the student’s counselor that provides information about the student’s achievement within the context of the school. Includes room for optional recommendation letter.

Single-Choice Early Action (SCEA)

A non-binding early application option, also known as Restrictive Early Action. Students can only apply to one of these programs as their early application.

Student-Faculty Ratio

The ratio of the number of students at a college compared to the number of faculty that is often seen as an indicator of class size and professor accessibility.

Target School 

A college where, based on the average GPA and test scores of accepted students, admission is likely.

Wait List

A list of students a college may eventually decide to admit if space becomes available.


The percentage of accepted students who matriculate (enroll) at that college. Competitive colleges have high yield rates.