Parents Guide to College

There’s a lot of information about attending university for parents and families to understand, process and remember! Additionally, some of this information changes each year, which only makes it harder to keep up with—terms change, deadlines shift and education laws and regulations are added.

In the Frequently Asked Questions and Key Terms and Phrases sections below, we hope to share information and answers that relate to the questions and needs of most families when they make the decision to attend college. We’ll also help unravel some of the details behind acronyms and phrases you may not have heard before your began your academic journey.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do undeclared students take longer to graduate?

There is no significant evidence to support the idea that a student who has not chosen a major (sometimes called an “undeclared” student) takes any longer to graduate than any other typical student. There is, however, evidence that the student who changes a specifically chosen major will take longer to graduate because courses taken for the original major may not count for the newly chosen major. In other words, the choice of a different, new major often means students have to make up classes and spend additional time toward graduation.

Overall, studies show that as many as four out of five students who enter college admit they are not fully certain which major or career they are interested in, even if they have made an initial choice.

That reality is what our new Explore Andrews Program is designed for—to help make sure that students carefully choose the right major from the start, and to avoid taking unnecessary classes as they work toward graduation.

When can a student declare a major?

Students in the Explore Andrews Program can declare a major at the end of their freshman year. If a student settles on a major during the course of their first year, they will continue to be advised by their Explore Andrews academic advisor for the remainder of the year. The Explore Andrews advisor will work closely with other academic departments to make sure students are in the right courses for that chosen degree track. Understanding that the average student changes majors three times, we want to be certain that the student's first declared major is the right one. 

Key Terms and Phrases


The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is your key to federal and state student aid. Even if you don't expect to take out a federal loan, we recommend you complete the FAFSA. Completing the FAFSA will allow Andrews to consider other forms of financial aid such as grants and gifts for your student. The most important thing to understand is that this is FREE. If you are asked for any form of payment to complete the FAFSA, you are in the wrong place. For more information visit


The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act is a Federal law that protects the privacy of student education records. Generally, schools must have written permission from the parent or eligible student in order to release any information from a student's education record. FERPA gives parents certain rights with respect to their children's education records, but these rights transfer to the student when he or she reaches the age of 18 or attends a school beyond the high school level.

Timely Graduation

Many students and families think of college as a four-year experience. While this can be true for some students, many students take longer than four years. One of the main components of the Explore Andrews Program is to ensure students stay on a timely graduation track. Understanding what we consider timely is important. Many of our degree programs are professional in nature and may require additional state or local certification before the student can work. Understanding the requirements of individual careers is important. At Andrews, timely graduation refers to the completion of all degree components, while taking as few electives as possible. Students should take the full load of courses each semester, refrain from withdrawing from courses, and keep track of their ACE requirements.

Credit Hours

In simple terms, a credit hour is the unit of measurement used to count towards awarding of a degree. A course is measured in terms of credit hours. Based on the amount of work and instruction hours, a course is assigned certain number of credits. One semester credit hour at Andrews University is earned through academic work during a period of fifteen weeks and averaging three hours per week.

General Education/Andrews Core Experience (ACE)

On most university campuses that focus on liberal arts education, general education is the course foundation that is developed and offered primarily through a set of core course requirements that all undergraduate students must meet, regardless of major. At Andrews University, that foundation of general education courses is called the Andrews Core Experience (ACE). 


An academic major is a university student's main field of specialization during his or her undergraduate studies. A major is a specific subject area that students can specialize in while aspiring to a university degree. A major will comprise of a group of core course in a curriculum that a student takes in addition to their general education requirements.


A minor is a student’s secondary area of focus in addition to their major. Minors allow students to explore other academic disciplines and incorporate them into their degree program. A minor will be part of a larger undergraduate program and will be a component of the same degree as the chosen major. A student will not receive a separate diploma for a minor.

Double Major vs Double Degree

Often these two terms are considered to mean the same thing. At Andrews University they do not. Many of our students will choose a double major (one diploma), but very few students will do a double degree (two diplomas). The reason for this is that a double degree requires the completion of both sets of major requirements as well as the separate associated Andrews Core requirements. Whereas the double major requires the two major requirements with a common, single Andrews Core requirement.