Adult College Completion Glossary

Credential: A credential is official acknowledgment of the completion of one class, or a set of classes, streamlined to quickly enhance job skills.

Degree: A degree is an academic title conferred by universities and colleges as an indication of the completion of a course of study; it may combine technical skills with general education. Examples include Associate degree, Bachelor's degree, Master's degree, Ph.D., etc.)

Diploma: A diploma is generally an acknowledgement of completion of a series (less than one year, one year or two years) of classes or hands-on learning of occupational skills, usually technical in nature.

Dislocated Worker: As defined by the U.S. Department of Labor Employment and Training Administration, a dislocated worker is an individual who has been terminated or laid off, or has received a notice of termination or layoff from employment; is eligible for or has exhausted unemployment insurance; has demonstrated an appropriate attachment to the workforce, but not eligible for unemployment insurance and unlikely to return to a previous industry or occupation;has been terminated or laid off or received notification of termination or layoff from employment as a result of a permanent closure or substantial layoff;is employed at a facility, where the employer has made the general announcement that the facility will close within a 180 days;was self-employed (including employment as a farmer, a rancher, or a fisherman) but is unemployed as a result of general economic conditions in the community or because of a natural disaster; oris a displaced homemaker who is no longer supported by another family member.

Educational Background:  For the purposes of Adult College Completion through the Workforce Development system, educational background refers to post-secondary education completed through an accredited college or university and excludes vocational/technical schooling or other credentials that are not considered credit-bearing toward an Associate’s or Bachelor’s degree.

For-credit side of Higher Education: Courses and programs offered at institutions of higher education which provide graduation credits toward a formal degree.

Individual Employment Plan [IEP]: An IEP is a written plan or training road map outlining an individual's educational and career goals, and enumerating the services and steps necessary to reach that goal. Typically it is developed by an individual working in close consultation with a counselor or caseworker in the workforce system and/or higher education.

“Near Completer” Client: A person who has earned a certain amount of credits toward a college degree through an accredited institution of higher education but who has yet to complete the full amount of credits required to graduate with a formal degree.

Non-Credit side of Higher Education: Courses and programs offered at institutions of higher education that do not provide credits toward a formal degree but may give courses or training which result in a credential or certificate.

Post-Secondary Education/Higher Education: Education which takes place after high school.  It can include college work resulting, or not, in degrees at every level (BA, MA, Ph.D., etc.) as well as vocational training, and work toward specific credentials or certificates. The term post-secondary education is sometimes used interchangeably with higher education.

Prior Learning Assessment (PLA): Prior Learning Assessment is a term used to describe learning gained outside a traditional academic environment. Put another way, it's learning and knowledge your students acquire while living their lives: working, participating in employer training programs, serving in the military, studying independently, volunteering or doing community service, and studying open source courseware.

Reverse Transfer:  When a student has completed more than 60 qualifying credit hours toward a Bachelor’s Degree, they may have the option to apply those credits toward an Associate's Degree instead.  This creates a situation where a student who may not qualify to complete their Bachelor’s Degree (because they need too many credits, for instance) may at least qualify to receive their Associate’s Degree instead.  Schools differ regarding reverse transfer; it is important to consult with a higher education representative for each case and each school.

Some College: For the purposes of Adult College Completion, in order to qualify for funding, a client wanting to participate must have less than two years of college left to complete. This usually equates to 30 credit hours or less to degree completion. Some local workforce areas specify 15 or less credit hours to completion.

Stackable credits: Credits are stackable when they allow a person to earn short-term certificates or college credit, and in the future apply (‘stack’)  these credits toward further occupation-specific training or college education (respectively), thus allowing them to ascend a career ladder of some sort. Additionally, stackable credits can generally be applied to other degree types, thus if a person changes their career trajectory they may still apply the previously acquired credits to a future career type. 

“Stopped Out” Student: A person who starts an academic program or coursework, decides to discontinue their education, typically for a semester or two, then re-enrolls at later time. 

Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF): TANF is a program that is designed to help needy families achieve self-sufficiency. Read more about TANF here.

Terminal credits: These are coursework credits which cannot be transferred or applied to or combined with other later training or educational credits.

Transcript: A document that lists all classes and number of credits a student has completed (or attempted to complete) at a college or university.   Most colleges and universities have both an “official” and “unofficial” transcript available for students. Official transcripts must be ordered and are processed through the school’s registrar. They generally take a period of time to process and receive. Unofficial transcripts, however, are usually available through the school website (or advisor) and are accessible by the student at any time. Unofficial transcripts are generally all that is necessary to ascertain how many credits a student has taken and the degree type those credits applied toward.

Transfer to a Different Degree Program: If a client has completed some college toward a degree that does not align with the Priority Occupation list, they may be able to transfer their credits toward another degree that does.  The first two years of college are often spent taking general courses that may apply toward different degrees. Most colleges and universities have a program that lets the client select different degree types in a “what if” scenario to easily see how many classes would transfer to a different degree program. A school advisor should also be able to help the client with this inquiry.

More Pages:

Home Page | Degree Completion? Its Importance for Workforce Centers

Seven Steps to Enhance ACC | Working with Adult Learners | Strengthening Ties with Higher Ed

Lessons Learned | Resources for Workforce Centers | Adult College Completion Glossary | FAQs