Universities in the USA and Canada use different English words to describe things specific to a university. To help our international students begin their university pathway, the staff and teachers of Stafford House have compiled this list. We hope this helps our non-native English speakers prepare for their American or Canadian university experience. Our University Preparation and University Placement programs help students apply and gain admittance to American and Canadian universities.
1. Admissions – The department of admissions at a university collects and reviews student applications. The admissions staff is also responsible for recruiting new students and deciding which students to admit to the university. Our University Placement service helps students pass their TOEFL or IELTS and prepare their application.
2. Registrar - Sometimes known as “Enrollment Services” the Registrar is where students go to register for classes. Many universities have online course enrollment but students can still visit this office for help. If a student wants to add or drop a class they may need to go to the registrar to handle these actions. Students also request transcripts from the Registrar’s office.
3. Bursar – This is the accounting office, similar to the Admin Office at Stafford House, where a student would pay fees and tuition. The Bursar collects payment and works on payment plans with students. Often, Financial Aid and Student Loan support is part of this department.
4. Dean – A Dean at a university in the USA or Canada is the most important person in that division or department of the university. For example, the Dean of the Business School would be in charge of all the teachers and students in that area of the university.
5. Professors – Professors are teachers with different levels of credentials and experience. They commonly rank from the least experienced adjunct professor to assistant professor then associate professor and finally professor.
6. Teaching Assistant – Teaching assistants are experienced students in the subject they teach. A teaching assistant contributes to their degree requirements by teaching smaller classes and assisting professors in a specific department.
7. Faculty – This is a word used to describe all members or the teaching staff at a university. It could include a teaching assistant or a professor.
8. International Student Services – This department advises international students and serves as a crucial contact point for international students. This department should have reliable advice about F-1 status, OPT, CPT, and H1B programs.
9. Residence Life – Also called “Housing” is the area of a university responsible for managing and maintaining on-campus housing. Requests for housing, room changes, and pricing information should be directed to the Housing office. Students can often visit the Housing department to look for roommates and off-campus housing options.
10. Graduate Students – Graduate students studying at a university have already received a bachelor’s degree and are working to secure a master’s or a doctorate degree in their area of study.
11. Major – The academic program that a student focuses on is a major. This can be one subject like nursing or general like biology.
12. Student Affairs – The office of Student Affairs or the Dean of Students office is responsible for all aspects of student life. The people working here are likely involved with international students, cultural activities and campus events.
13. Career Placement Office – All universities have a department dedicated to helping students find employment before and after they graduate. This office should have job listings, career counseling and resume workshops for students.
14. Alumni – After a student graduates they are considered an ‘alumna.’ A group of students that graduated from a university or Stafford House are called alumni.
15. Scholarships – A monetary gift for tuition and fees for university is a scholarship. Scholarships can be awarded based on academics, athletics or activities. Universities and outside organizations focused on academics all award scholarships to new and returning students.