Cornell Lingo 101

We have gathered a list of terms and abbreviations that are regularly used here at Cornell Engineering. Some are more obvious than others but it will help you decipher things! 

●    Academic Excellence Workshops (AEWs)—AEWs are one-credit S/U courses taken in conjunction with engineering math, chemistry, and computer science courses. The workshops are listed under the nomenclature ENGRG (Engineering General) and are paired with the appropriate course: ENGRG 1091 with MATH 1910, ENGRG 1092 with MATH 1920, ENGRG 1009 with CHEM 2090, ENGRG 1010 with CS 1110, and so on. Participants work cooperatively to practice problem-solving and to improve their understanding of core course concepts. Workshops meet once each week for two hours. Facilitators are upper-class students who are proficient with course material and trained in cooperative learning techniques. Students may enroll online for AEWs during pre-enrollment or during the add/drop period.

●    Academic year—The school year beginning in the fall. The academic year at Cornell starts in August and ends in May.  There are two semesters, each approximately 15 weeks long; the Fall semester begins in August and ends in December, and the Spring semester begins in January and ends in May.  The full Cornell Academic Calendar lists all important dates.

●    Add/Drop—A set time in the beginning of the semester in which students can add and drop classes (and rearrange their schedule) before a specific deadline.

●    Affiliating with a major—Selecting or declaring a major within engineering. This usually happens during the sophomore year.

●    Bursar—The Office of the Bursar is Cornell University’s central billing service center for tuition, fees, and other charges incurred by students.

●    Co-op—The Engineering Co-op integrates a student’s academic interests and career goals with paid, productive work experience in cooperating organizations. Students work full-time for one semester and one summer. Students with cumulative GPA of 2.7 and above are eligible to participate. For more information, contact the Engineering Career Center.

●    Course load—The number of courses or credits a student takes during a specific term

●    Elective—A class you can take that is not specifically required by your major or minor.

●    Engineering Core Curriculum—Foundational courses in math, science, and engineering concepts taken during the first two years

●    ENGR 1050—A one-credit, created-to-be-fun, get-to-know-Cornell class where you will meet us, your very own peer advisors! The class will be led by your faculty advisor, whom you will consult before enrolling in classes every semester until you affiliate with a major (which you will do during your sophomore year). It’s an S/U class with no homework or exams, and we will make it fun!

●    Extracurricular activities—Groups you belong to outside of class, such as sporting teams, clubs and organizations.

●    Faculty AdvisorFaculty Advisors help students translate their academic interests into an appropriate course of study, offering general guidance related to academic majors, internships, graduate study, and career planning. 

●    Financial Aid—Cornell is proud of our extensive financial aid programs that help students and their families turn the dream of a Cornell education into a reality. Financial aid is a complex process and we are here to help.

●    Full-time student—A student who enrolls in at least a minimum number (determined by your college or university) of credit hours of courses.

●    Internal Transfer—A student who transfers from one Cornell undergraduate college or school to another.

●    Internship—A temporary job, paid or unpaid, usually in the field of your major. You may be able to receive college credit for an internship.

●    Liberal studies distribution—A minimum of six courses that are not major requirements in fields such as humanities, arts and social sciences.

●    Major—Your primary area of study. Your college major is the field you plan to get a job in after you graduate (for example: mechanical engineering, computer science, or biomedical engineering).

●    Major Requirements—Required courses to get a degree with a specific major

●    Minor—Your secondary area of study. Fewer classes are required for a college minor than for a major. Many students’ minors are a specialization of their major field.

●    Office Hours—Office Hours are sessions held outside of class by professors, instructors, or teaching assistants. Students can utilize this time to receive help on homework assignments or to ask for help regarding an upcoming exam.

●    Orientation—In August, the Office of New Student Programs coordinates the orientation for Cornell University. In addition, the College of Engineering facilitates several important orientation events that are critical to your transition.  A schedule of these events will be provided to you during the summer prior to orientation.  

●    Peer Advisor—Senior, Junior, and Sophomore engineering students who volunteer to assist new students with the academic transition from high school to college.

●    Prerequisite—A course that must be taken before another course (For example, Math 1110 is a prerequisite for Math 1120.)

●    Project team—Teamwork that mimics real-world engineering by bringing Cornell students, faculty, and staff together to solve complex problems in team-based settings.

●    Professional Academic AdvisorProfessional Academic Advisors provide a variety of advising services and programs to assist students in achieving their undergraduate academic and personal goals.  

●    Resident Advisor (RA)—Undergraduate or graduate students who live in the undergraduate residential communities and serve as community leaders

●    STEM—Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math

●    TA, RA, GRA—Teaching Assistant, Research Assistant, Graduate Research Assistant

●    Transcript—An official academic record that lists the courses you have completed, grades and information such as when you attended.

●    Undergraduate Colleges and Schools at Cornell

  • College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS)
  • College of Architecture, Art and Planning (AAP)
  • College of Arts and Sciences (A&S)
  • Cornell SC Johnson College of Business
  • College of Engineering (CornellEngineering)
  • College of Human Ecology
  • School of Industrial and Labor Relations (ILR)