9 Great English Words for University

January 27, 2020

Are you heading to university in the USA? How exciting! During this transition time, you will have a lot of “firsts”: your first time choosing classes and schedule, your first time attending a university lecture, your first time selecting a career path, etc. Each of these experiences will require you to learn some new vocabulary. Here are 9 English words you will need to know before you enter university in the USA. 

9 Great English Words for University 


Definition: To attend a class that you are not enrolled in (in order to decide if you want to take this class). This is also called a “sit in” or “sitting in.”

Example: I am going to audit a statistics class this afternoon. I can’t decide if I should take this class or a different class about research analytics. 


Definition: The names for first, second, third, and fourth year students (in that order). 

Example: When I was a freshman, I lived on campus. Now that I am a sophomore, I live in an apartment. 

Example: I waited until my junior year to take a communications class. Now, I’m thinking about changing my major to communications!

Note: We say freshman for one person and freshmen for a group of first-year students.


Definition: A student who is not from the state where the college/university is. This person must pay a higher rate for tuition. 

Example: I paid the nonresident fee for two years because I am from Florida but I attended UC Berkeley. 

Double major

Definition (noun): A student who studies for two degrees. 

Example: I am a double major in psychology and public health administration. 

Definition (verb): The act of studying for two degrees. 

Example: He is double majoring in business and Japanese. 


Definition: A class where the professor speaks and teaches. Typically, in a lecture, students attend class and take notes. There may be some discussion and student participation, but the class time is mainly dedicated to the professor’s speech. 

Example: I have a chemistry lecture today and then I have chem lab tomorrow. 


Definition: A class that is dedicated to discussing the topics that the professor talked about in the lecture. Often, this class is led by a teaching assistant (usually someone who is getting their PhD in the subject). 

Example: In discussion today we reviewed the three poems my professor taught us on Monday. 

Pass/No Pass (or Pass/Fail)

Definition: An option of taking a class and receiving one of two marks: “pass” or “no pass” (also called “fail”). Students receive this grade rather than an A, B, C, D, or F. 

Example: I didn’t complete the final homework assignment. I’m taking the course pass/fail, and  since I already have a 95% in the class, I didn’t need to complete the final assignment. 

Student Union

Definition: The area of campus where students can gather, study, and socialize. 

Example: I’ll meet you at the student union at 10 am.

Waitlisted/to be on a wait list 

Definition: To be placed on a list for a class that has full enrollment (in hopes that some students drop the class and there will be a space open). 

Example: I am waitlisted for my biology class. There are three people ahead of me. Hopefully I will get in!

Deferred study

Definition: To pause your studies.

Example: I am going to defer my studies until the fall because I am having some family issues that require my attention. 


Definition: A record of all of the classes that you have taken and the grades you received. 

Example: Where can I order and pick up my official transcript? I need it to apply for a master’s program. 

Did you know that IEC@DVC offers a clear path to attending a U.S. university? Contact us to learn more about our programs, which allow students to begin taking classes at a California college. We are the clear and successful path to university in the U.S.!

You Might Also Like