Do you speak Western?

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A Guide to Speaking Western

Colleges and Universities use confusing language, acronyms, and phrases that may not make sense to most people. This is a guide to some of the unique words and expressions that are used at Western.

Associate of Arts Degree is a two-year undergraduate degree typically earned through a community or technical college. Western does not offer AA degrees.

Academic Instructional West (AW) is the west portion of the Academic Instructional Center, connected by a skybridge. This academic building houses the Psychology and Communication Sciences and Disorders departments. 

The time of the year when students attend an educational institution, usually from September to June. Information about the dates for Western’s Academic Year can be found on the Registrar’s Office Important Dates and Deadlines.

Associated Students - An organization designed and run by students including student clubs, student government, the Outdoor Center, and the campus radio station KUGS.

Associate of Science Degree is a 2-year degree typically earned through a community or technical college. Western does not offer AS degrees.

If you are interested in meeting with someone who is available by appointment, you will need to schedule a time and day in advance through calling or emailing to set up an appointment.

Bachelor of Arts degree, is an undergraduate degree typically earned at a 4-year college or university, focuses more heavily on the arts, humanities, and social science areas.

A bachelor's degree or baccalaureate is an undergraduate academic degree awarded by colleges and universities upon completion of all graduation requirements. The two most common bachelor's degrees are the Bachelor of Arts (BA) and the Bachelor of Science (BS).

Bachelor of Arts in Education, is an undergraduate degree typically earned at a 4-year college or university, designed for students who intent to become educators at the preschool – 12th grade level.

Bachelor of Fine Arts, is an undergraduate degree typically earned at a 4-year college or university, focuses in creative programs such as design, music, and theatre.

Bachelor of Science degree, is an undergraduate degree typically earned at a 4-year college or university, focuses more on the science, math, and technology areas.

A learning management system that connects instructors and students so that course materials and activities are shared online. Depending on the class, students can take quizzes, submit assignments and view grades through Canvas. Western students access Canvas through myWestern.

ClassFinder is a class planning resource students use each quarter to prepare for registration.

Career Services Center a student support service on Western’s campus (located in Old Main 280) that supports Western’s community in career exploration and preparing for life after Western.

Credit is received for taking courses at the college level. Western requires students to complete 180 quarter credits to graduate from Western. For full graduation requirements, see the University Catalog.

Disability Access Center provides services and programs to foster equal access and full inclusion in every aspect of the student experience.

The week before finals week; used by students to wrap up final papers and study for final exams.

A form of payment made from a public fund. A portion of a federal student loan that the school pays out by applying the funds to the student's school account or by paying the borrower directly.

Disability Outreach Center is a student-funded, student-run office, committed to supporting disabled students, as well as fostering a less ableist campus environment at WWU.

An option many student services offices at Western have for students without a scheduled meeting to stop in their office to ask questions. This is typically a shorter meeting than an appointment lasting 15-20 minutes and there can be wait times associated with drop ins.

Direct Transfer Agreement. An agreement between Washington state’s community colleges and state universities. For Western students who complete an Associate in Arts or Associate in Arts and Sciences degree from a Washington state community or technical college have fulfilled Western's General University Requirements (GUR) as part of the Direct Transfer Agreement.

Ethnic Student Center - a group of student clubs that work together to help students affirm their identity and build a sense of community.

The EFC represents the financial support you and your parents (if their information was required on the FAFSA) are able to provide for your educational costs based on the data you reported. The EFC is the same regardless of the school you attend. The EFC is determined by the information you reported on your FAFSA and is based on several factors, such as: income, assets, number in the household, and the number attending college.

Free Application for Federal Student Aid The FAFSA is a form completed every year by current and prospective college students in the United States to determine their eligibility for student financial aid.

Fellowships are funded, short-term opportunities, that can last from a few weeks to a few years. They can be focused on professional, academic and/or personal development and include research, developing new community-based organizations, training within a specific field, opportunities to explore a particular field of work, or graduate study. Fellowships are typically sponsored by a specific association, organization, institution, or government which sets the eligibility requirements. These opportunities encompass nationally competitive grants, scholarships, and other funding opportunities. Check out Western’s Fellowship Office for opportunities!

 First Year Interest Groups are a cluster of courses offered to first year students in their first quarter that help them make connections and explore campus life.

A final is a test, project, or paper given to a student to wrap up the course. Typically given during the last week of the quarter. Final times for classes have a separate schedule.

Western's definition of a first-generation college student is any student who indicates on their Western application that neither of their parents have earned a bachelor's degree.

A student who is new to a college and has not taken any college credit since graduating high school. All first-year students start their time at Western with Orientation, Advising and Registration.

A fiscal year spans twelve months and corresponds with a company's financial reporting periods. Western’s fiscal year starts in July and ends in June of the following year.

General University Requirements - Part of Western’s graduation requirements that provide general education for students to understand the world around them and within themselves.

Wilson Library Reading room located centrally on the fourth floor of Wilson Library. Nicknamed the “Harry Potter Room” by students.

A break between quarters. Students typically use this break to travel home, visit family members, spend time with friends, or work.

FM Radio Station operated by the Associated Students

A group of resources located in Wilson Library and Haggard Hall, connected by a sky bridge. The Learning Commons Partners include The Tutoring Center, Center for Community Learning, Student Technology Center, Hacherl Research & Writing Studio, and Digital Media Center.

The term "low-income individual" is defined by the U.S. Department of Education as an individual whose family's taxable income for the prior year did not exceed 150 percent of the poverty level amount.

Master of Arts, a graduate degree focusing on the fields of humanities, social sciences, or fine arts.

A legal document in which you promise to repay your loan(s) and any accrued interest and fees to the U.S. Department of Education. It also explains the terms and conditions of your loan(s).

Master of Business Administration, a graduate degree that focuses on business administration or management

Multicultural CenterA physical space on the 7th floor within the Viking Union that is home to the Ethnic Student Center and programs of the Multicultural Student Services.

An exam or assignment used to evaluate a student’s knowledge halfway through the quarter. This gives students an idea of how they are doing in the course and if they need to make any changes to their study habits.

Karen W. Morse Hall, listed in ClassFinder and on Campus maps as the Chemistry Building (CB). The sign outside of this building says Morse Hall. Morse Hall and the Chemistry Building (CB) are the same.

Master of Science, a graduate degree focusing in the scientific or technical fields.

The Office of Multicultural Student Services creates initiatives and programming to support Western Washington University’s strategic goals in equity, excellence, and inclusion for our students. The MSS strives to create and ensure an inclusive Western Washington University community by centering and amplifying the voice of students with underrepresented and marginalized identities and supporting student success. 

New Student Experience Seminars are small, stand-alone classes with a focus on a specific topic or community-engaged learning experience.

A reserved time and space for student and faculty to connect. The location, dates, and times of office hours are typically posted on the syllabus for the course and on the department’s webpage. Faculty want to allow space for questions and conversation regarding the courses they teach, and students are encouraged to connect with their faculty during these times! Not able to make it during your professors set office hours? Email them to see if there is another time available to meet.

Western Washington University is one of seven universities — and the first in the Northwest — to have adopted the Okanagan Charter and joined the United States Health Promoting Campuses Network, which calls on higher-education institutions to embed health into all aspects of campus culture and to lead health-promotion action and collaboration locally and globally.

Performing Arts Center houses many events as well as the College of Fine and Performing Arts including the Music and Dance departments. Western’s Box Office is also located here.

Pell Grants are provided to eligible undergraduate students with exceptional financial need, based on the information submitted on the FAFSA. The amount of Pell Grant that a student is eligible to receive is impacted by the number of financial aid eligible credits for which the student is enrolled and attends each quarter. 

Doctoral degree, a graduate degree that prepares you for a career in academic research or teaching

Divides the academic year into four parts, each quarter is typically a 10-week session. To learn more about Western’s quarters and when they are offered, visit the Registrar’s Office Important Dates and Deadlines.

A hold on a student’s account doesn’t allow them to make changes to their schedule or register for new courses. Students can check their Registration Status in their Web4U. If they have a yellow triangle in place of a green check mark, they can click the “View Holds” button at the bottom of the screen to determine what office has placed a hold on their account and the phone number for that office.

The registration waitlist is an electronic list of students waiting to register for a course section that is currently full. More information about Western’s registration waitlist and how to join the waitlist, can be found on the Academic Advising Center’s website.

a form of financial aid you apply for based on academic merit, talent, extra-curricular activities and, in some cases, financial need. Scholarship information is available in the Scholarship Center, Old Main 285 or students can visit the Scholarship Center website.

Science Lecture Hall (SL) is a building that houses Science, Math, and Technology Education (SMATE). The SMATE/SL building is listed on Campus Maps and in ClassFinder as SL (Science Lecture). The sign outside of this building says SMATE. The SMATE and SL building are the same building.

Student Outreach Services - Student Outreach Services serves first-generation, multicultural and non-traditional students and engages students in personalized academic coaching, peer mentoring and specialized programs using a global and multicultural focus to support student persistence and academic achievement.

An outline of class requirements and a student’s guide to a course for the quarter. Generally, it includes course policies, a grading scale, required texts, and a schedule of assignments. Instructors typically provide the syllabus on the Canvas site for the course.  

Transfer Equivalency Reporta record of past transfer credit from Running Start, AP, IB, or College in the High School or other colleges. A student can find their TER in Web4U. More information on reading the TER can be found on the Academic Advising Center’s webpage.

Beta-Gamma living community set on a hill overlooking central campus and surrounded by trees.

Administrative Services Center located off of Western’s Bellingham campus at 333 32nd Street, Bellingham, WA 98225. This building houses the Testing Center.

A student who is new to a college or institution and has taken college credit at another institution since graduating from high school. All transfer students start their time at Western with Orientation, Advising and Registration.

Viking Union – A building and community hub for student communities, engagement, and activities at Western Washington University. Also referred to as the Student Union on other campuses.

Wade King Recreation Center or Campus Recreation Services. Sometimes shortened to REC Center or Campus REC.

Washington Application for State Financial Aid allows students who are ineligible for federal financial aid due to immigration status to apply for state financial aid.

Student portal used by students to register for classes, update academic interests, and find information about their financial aid and student records.

Western Involvement Network – A place to discover and track campus events

Work study is a form of financial aid which provides employment opportunities on campus and in the local community. Your work study job will provide you with a paycheck like any other part-time employment situation. While work study earnings are subject to federal income tax like other jobs, they have the benefit of counting as an income exclusion on the FAFSA for the upcoming aid year! Additional information is available in the Student Employment Center, Old Main 245 or on the Student Employment Center website.

Not a magic place where you will pick a career but can pick clothes! The WWU Career Closet is a resource created to support students and alumni in their career success. Students/alumni can acquire free professional business attire appropriate for job or grad school interviews, networking events, career fairs, or for any reason that professional attire may be needed. 

Zoe’s Bookside Bagels is a popular café on Western’s Bellingham Campus, located in the Wilson Library. Zoe’s offers a selection of breakfast bagels, bagel sandwiches, sweet and savory baked gods, coffee, and a wide range of grab and go beverages.

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