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Office of Institutional Analytics

Glossary of Terms

Commonly Used Terms in Institutional Research

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Academic Year – Consecutive Fall, Spring, and Summer semesters, typically mid-August to early-August.

Accreditation A process of recognizing educational institutions for meeting formal standards of academic excellence, curriculum, facilities, support services, integrity, quality, and other requirements. In the United States, regional accreditation is managed by private institutional or professional associations. Rollins College is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACSCOC).

Assessment Systematic information gathering, research, evaluation, and programmatic change for purposes of improving teaching, learning, and service in educational settings.


Blended Learning - Blended learning is the replacement of a portion of in-class face-to-face-instruction (25-49%) with learning beyond the classroom, often, but not always, through the application of technology to enhance student learning outcomes.

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Carnegie Classification – A non-hierarchical framework for classifying higher education institutions based on characteristics in six categories (Basic Classification, Undergraduate and Graduate Instructional Program, Enrollment Profile and Undergraduate Profile, and Size & Setting). The Carnegie Foundation recognizes six distinct types of institutions - Associate of Arts Colleges, Baccalaureate Colleges, Master's (Comprehensive) Colleges and Universities, Research Universities, Doctoral Universities, and Specialized Institutions. Rollins College is classified as a “Master's L: Master's Colleges and Universities (larger programs)” institution. See the Carnegie Classification Methodology for further details.

Census Date – The official reporting date for institutional data, occurring the first Friday of each October. The census provides a point-in-time statistical portrait of the College’s enrollment, population, faculty, etc. Collected census data are used to conduct analyses such as retention and graduation rates, and are reported to a variety of internal and external authorities.

CIP (Classification of Instruction Programs) Code – Nationally used taxonomic codes used for classifying and reporting on higher education academic programs. This classification was developed by the U.S. Department of Education's National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) in 1980 and was revised as recently as 2000.

Class – A classification of students, first by level, then by class. Class is determined by the amount of credits earned or progress toward a degree. At the undergraduate level, students are classified as freshman, sophomore, junior, or senior. Graduate level students are typically categorized by year, e.g. first year, second year.

Cohort – Traditional new first-time, first-year students, enrolled in the fall term as collected in the College’s annual census. The cohort’s enrollment and registration are tracked over time for the purposes of calculating retention and graduation rates.

Credit – Enrollment in a higher education academic course or program for which credit can be applied, upon satisfactory completion, toward the requirements for a formal award, such as a degree or diploma.

Credit Hour – A course’s unit of measure, representing the number of hours a student spends in-class for the course per week, which is counted toward completion of an academic program.

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Degree-Seeking – Students who are recognized as enrolled in for-credit courses in an academic program and seeking a corresponding formal award or degree upon satisfactory program completion.

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Ethnic/Racial Classification – A racial or ethnic category that is self-reported by the student. International students are not classified by racial/ethnic classification, but are instead non-resident aliens, but are counted in the total number of students when calculating percent minority. Race is typically defined as the grouping of humans by similar physical characteristics, such as skin color or eye form. Ethnicity typically classifies humans on the basis of physical, regional, and cultural characteristics. The current Federal definitions for ethnic categories are as follows:

  • American Indian or Alaskan Native – A person having origins in any of the original peoples of North and South America (including Central America) who maintains cultural identification through tribal affiliation or community attachment.
  • Asian – A person having origins in any of the original peoples of the Far East, Southeast Asia, or the Indian Subcontinent, including, for example, Cambodia, China, India, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Pakistan, the Philippine Islands, Thailand, and Vietnam.
  • Black or African American – A person having origins in any of the black racial groups of Africa.
  • Hispanic or Latino – A person of Cuban, Mexican, Puerto Rican, South or Central American, or other Spanish culture or origin, regardless of race.
  • Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander – A person having origins in any of the original peoples of Hawaii, Guam, Samoa, or other Pacific Islands.
  • Two or More Races – A person who indicates having two or more races.
  • White – A person having origins in any of the original peoples of Europe, the Middle East, or North Africa.

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Faculty – Persons who are employed by the College for the purpose of conducting instruction, research, or public service as a principal activity (or activities) and are identified by the institution as such. Faculty may hold academic rank titles, and may be tenured, on tenure track, or not on or ineligible for tenure track. Faculty may include the chancellor/president, provost, vice provosts, deans, directors or the equivalent, as well as associate deans, assistant deans, and executive officers of academic departments if their principal activity is instruction combined with research and/or public service. Non-instructional staff such as librarians may also be considered faculty.

Faculty Rank – Faculty may hold academic rank titles of professor, associate professor, assistant professor, instructor, lecturer, or the equivalent of any of those academic ranks.

  • Professor – Senior faculty rank, usually accompanied by the award of tenure. Some appointments to the rank of professor are non-tenure-track (i.e., do not lead to consideration for tenure).
  • Associate Professor – Mid-level rank usually obtained after receiving tenure. Some appointments at this rank are non-tenure-track.
  • Assistant Professor – Entry-level rank, usually requiring a doctorate or other terminal degree. Appointments at this rank may or may not be tenure track.
  • Instructor/Lecturer – A junior-level faculty appointment that is not in the tenure track.

First-time, first-year (freshman) student – A student attending a higher education institution for the first time at the undergraduate level. This includes students who are enrolled in the fall term who attended college for the first time in the fall or prior summer term. This classification also includes students who entered with advanced standing (college credits earned before graduation from high school).

Fiscal Year (FY) – A 12-month period, running from June 1 through the following May 31, that is used for tracking financials and producing annual financial. Fiscal years are designated by the year in which the FY ends, not the year in which the FY begins.

FTE (Full-Time Equivalent) – Calculations that take full-time and part-time figures and convert them to a meaningful full-time equivalency. The FTE assists with planning enrollment, resources, budget, and the like. FTE may be used for students, faculty, or staff, and may be calculated differently for different purposes.

Full-time Student A full-time undergraduate student that is enrolled in courses totaling 12 or more credits per semester in any combination of programs, courses, contracts, or internships. A full-time graduate student is enrolled in nine or more credits per semester.

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Graduation Rate – A calculation based on the number of students from a given cohort that have persisted and graduated from the institution. Most often, the graduation rate is calculated based on the students’ degree completion within 150 percent or normal time to degree completion, or six years.

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Headcount – Number of individual people, whether full-time or part-time, at a given point-in-time.

Headcount (unduplicated) – In a given period of time, the total count of students enrolled in for-credit courses with each student being counted only once regardless of when the student enrolled.

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Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) A system of surveys, administered by the National Center for Educational Statistics, used to collect information from all postsecondary educational institutions. Data includes information about enrollments, program completions, faculty, staff, and finances.

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Level (of student) – The student's level of enrollment in a degree program. Baccalaureate freshmen, sophomore, junior, and senior students are categorized as undergraduate level; Master’s degree-seeking students are categorized as graduate level.

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Non-Degree Seeking – A student enrolled in credit or non-credit bearing courses who is not recognized by the College as seeking a degree or formal award.

Non-Resident Alien A person who is not a citizen or national of the United States and who is in this country on a visa or temporary basis.

Not on Tenure Track/Ineligible – A status tenure is not possible. Faculty members in this status are typically categorized as lecturer or instructor, or are employed as an adjunct or visiting faculty member.

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Part-time Student An undergraduate student who is enrolled in less than 12 credits per semester, in any combination of programs, courses, contracts, or internships; part-time graduate students are enrolled in less than 9 credits per semester.

Peer Institution – An institution that is considered to have similar characteristics to Rollins, such as institution type, mission, demographics, etc. that is used to compare data relating to enrollments, finances, etc.

Persistence –A student's continued enrollment at the College beyond any particular term.

Postbaccalaureate Student – A student holding a bachelor's degree who is enrolled in graduate or first-professional courses that do not result in a master’s degree.

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Resident alien or other eligible non-citizen – A person who is not a citizen or national of the United States and who has been admitted as a legal immigrant for the purpose of obtaining permanent resident alien status.

Retention - Refers to a student's persistence at Rollins from one term to another. For official reporting, retention is calculated by identifying the number of students from each cohort that return the fall after their entering term, e.g. the number of students from the Fall 2010 cohort that are enrolled and registered in the fall 2011 term (as of the census dates).

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Special Student - A student who is enrolled in a maximum of 8 credits per semester. Special students may or may not be degree-seeking students, provided that the program in which they are enrolled permits this status.

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Tenure Track – A status with which tenure may be possible. Faculty members in this status are typically categorized as assistant professor and sometimes associate professor, and are working toward the institution’s tenure requirements.

Tenured – Faculty who earn tenure are afforded with the right to regular annual reappointment subject to the conditions of employment and assignments in effect each year. Tenure also affords faculty with the right to not have his/her position terminated without just cause.

Transfer Student – An undergraduate student who previously attended and earned credit at a postsecondary degree program, and subsequently enrolled in a Rollins undergraduate program.

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This list of terms is not necessarily inclusive. Please contact us if there are terms you believe should be
added to this list.