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Higher Ed Acronyms: ICYMI They Are Getting OC IMO

We all have them. We all say them.  We sometimes know what they stand for… but do our students?

Acronyms – An 8-letter word that has hundreds, thousands, millions of iterations, and heavily relied on in higher education.  We have the FAFSA, FERPA, and FOIPOP.  FOIPOP?  Yes, FOIPOP!  CLEP, PSEO, and ESOL. Let’s be honest, half the time we can’t keep our acronyms straight, so how can we expect our students to understand them? 

What does FAFSA stand for?  Listen to these students!



There was a recent article from The Hechinger Report titled, “One surprising barrier to college success: Dense higher education lingo” which describes the challenges that students face given the complex language used in higher education and demonstrates that this complex language can actually be a barrier to students.  The article further states that institutions can fix this problem by “writing in the active voice, using more concise grammar and bullet points, explaining abbreviations and acronyms and simply subbing the word “you” for wordy descriptions of students”.

We’ve started a list of acronyms, which we will continue to build with your help. What acronyms do you use that could be a barrier to students? What is the craziest or most often misunderstood acronym that you know?  Add your acronyms to the discussion below.

Comments 7
  • Stacie Williams
    Stacie Williams

    GPA= Grade Point Average

  • Ken

    FY=Fiscal Year
    ERIC=Educational Resources Information Center
    CTE=Career and Technical Education
    MOU=Memorandum of Understanding
    BOT=Board of Trustees
    Ed.D.=Doctor of Education
    BIT=Behavior Intervention Team
    RFP=Request for Proposals
    MOU= Memorandum of Understanding

  • Karen

    SURE = Student undergraduate research experience
    DEI = diversity, equity and inclusion
    SOARS = Strategic Opportunity for Academic Reach and Success
    SF/TF = Smoke-free, tobacco-free
    DEEDS = dynamic education and engagement of diverse students
    UR = under represented
    DKS = Destination Kent State (student orientation)
    TKS = Transfer Kent State (transfer student orientation)
    RCM = Responsibility-centered management
    GPI = Great place initiative
    …and SO many more!

  • Nilsa

    A little bit more for the alphabet soup

    NSLDS — National Student Loan Data System for Students
    HEOP — Higher Education Opportunity Program
    CSTEP — Collegiate Science and Technology Entry Program (New York grant funded program)
    EFC — Expected Family Contribution
    MPN — Master Promissory Note

  • Hellen

    FERPA =Family Education Right to Privacy Act
    MTF= Maximum Time Frame
    GPA = Grade point Average
    IVF= Independent Verification Form
    DVF= Dependent Verification Form
    PJ = Professional Judgement

    As Alexandra previously stated “So many acronyms….”

  • Eric Tammes
    Eric Tammes

    LMS = learning management system
    ALP = accelerated learning program
    SAP = satisfactory academic progress
    FT/PT = full-time/part-time
    FTIC = first time in college
    ALEKS = Assessment and Learning in Knowledge Spaces (online tutoring and course placement tool)
    ABE = adult basic education

  • Alexandra Shuford
    Alexandra Shuford

    GTF = graduate teaching fellow
    OSCE = objective structured clinical exam
    CPX = clinical performance exam
    SP = standardized patient

    So many acronyms….

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