What Are You Even Talking About?! — A Few Definitions Related to College Admissions


By Blaire Moody Rideout

Reading admissions blogs, scrolling through forums about college admissions, or even talking with admissions directors can leave those uninitiated scratching their heads with confusion.

“Do I have to be in a cohort?” “How hard is it to matriculate?” “Early Action… not sure what that is, but it sounds both stressful and exciting!”

So, I wanted to use this blog to provide some definitions or clarity for you that will help you understand the world of college admissions a little better.

Still have questions or is there a word or phrase you’ve heard us or other admissions team use that you’d like demystified? Leave a comment and we’ll add it to this list!

Artifact | BBA vs Business Major | Capstone | Cohort | Dual Degree or Double Major | Early Action | Home School | Matriculate | MERGE | Pre-admit | Regular DecisionRolling Admissions | Section | Winter Garden


The artifact is an additional aspect of the application unique to Michigan Ross where we ask you to submit anything of importance that shines a light on who you are as a person, what you’re proud of and passionate about, and how you’d fit in with the Ross community.

Read my previous blog posts about the artifact and portfolio exercises

BBA vs Business Major

A “major” in college jargon, typically refers to the area of study attached to the end of a Bachelor of Science or Bachelor of Arts degree. For instance a B.S. in Chemistry is the degree earned by a student in a Bachelor of Science program majoring in Chemistry.

At Michigan Ross, our degree is the Bachelor of Business Administration. We don’t have majors in the traditional sense, as every diploma will say “Bachelor of Business Administration” (BBA). Our program does allow you to specialize in a particular functional area (like finance, accounting, marketing, etc), which means you’ll be able to customize your studies to your interests.


The Capstone is the culminating experience of your Ross BBA degree. Taken in your senior year, the capstone course will have you take the last four years of your Ross education and put it into practice. Through the completion of a final project, you’ll draw on learnings from and connections between the entirety of your studies at Ross. There are three capstone options for seniors to choose from: A Capstone Thesis, A Professional Capstone, and Capstone MAP.


A cohort is simply the group of classmates you’ll spend the majority of your time with during your studies. In the Ross Undergraduate Admissions Office, we think of the cohort as the entire class of students — as we recruit the Class of 2022, for instance, we think about how each individual will contribute to the cohort as a whole. The make up of your cohort will define your Ross experience, and we work hard to recruit a diverse, smart, driven, and high-achieving group of classmates for you. However, current students identify more with the term “section” since the core BBA curriculum is taught within a section model.

Dual Degree or Double Major

In practice, these mean the same thing: that while you are pursuing your BBA at Ross you are also working toward another degree at a different college within Michigan. In contrast, students in LSA can double major in, say, Econ and Political Science, because those academic areas both reside in the College of LSA.

We have many students working towards dual degrees with the U-M Colleges of Art & Design; Engineering; Literature, Science, and the Arts; and with the Schools of Kinesiology and Music, Theatre, & Dance.

Learn more about dual degrees

EA (Early Action)

Early Action is the first deadline in the University of Michigan’s admissions process. Applications are considered Early Action if received by November 1 of your senior year in high school. Submission by this date guarantees you’ll hear from the University of Michigan on your decision no later than December 24.

After the University of Michigan admits you via Early Action, your application will come to Ross for review (following this process I wrote about in a previous blog).

Home School

Home School refers to the primary academic unit or college that you are assigned which has the responsibility for your primary advisor, academic record, transcript, etc.  BBA students’ home School is the Ross School of Business; dual degree students in the BBA program ALMOST always have Ross as the home school after their first-year on campus.

Dual degree students with non-LSA units begin as Ross Preferred Admit students their first-year on campus. This is due to the specialized nature of the curriculum for those non-LSA units. For example, students in the Stamps School of Art & Design only take one non-art course per semester and thus need to begin in Stamps that first-year as a Ross Preferred Admit. After meeting a few requirements as a condition of their Preferred Admission for Ross, students declare their dual degree sophomore year and become a student enrolled in both Ross and their first-year unit.


To matriculate means that you have officially enrolled in the program by submitting your enrollment deposit. After we admit you, you’re considered an “admitted student” and after you submit your deposit, you have officially matriculated. This is mostly a word we use internally but you might occasionally hear and admissions officer say things like “after you matriculate, you’ll receive a student ID.” Remember that enrollment deposits are due May 1st.


MERGE is the name of the Michigan Ross BBA Curriculum. The MERGE curriculum was designed to help you develop the knowledge, skills, and abilities to succeed in the business world. Your entire four years of study at Michigan Ross will revolve around eight recurring curricular themes, which are described in detail here.

Watch a video about MERGE


This is an outdated term that hangs around from our old admissions cycle. You might still hear it used in forums or chats, but we no longer have pre-admits at Ross. Even students that reside in another unit as their home school that first-year are considered BBA First-Year students in our directory.

Regular Decision

Regular Decision is the final deadline to submit an application to the University of Michigan’s Office of Undergraduate Admissions. The Regular Decision deadline is Feb 1, but we give preference to students who apply before the Early Action deadline of Nov 1 and encourage you to apply by then if possible.

Rolling Admissions

Michigan Ross adheres to a modified Rolling Admissions philosophy in which we receive, review, and make decisions periodically. It is considered a “modified” rolling admissions approach because there are application deadlines, with the last date to apply as February 1st. However, due to application volume we encourage students to submit their application by Nov 1 of their senior year in high school.


The BBA program is organized around 40 credits of required core courses, 29.5 credits of which must be taken in the prescribed order. Students complete those core courses in an assigned section of 80-90 students. When students begin the sophomore year, this section model begins. The section of students that you are assigned to are your group of BBA peers that you become extremely close with because of those late nights preparing the final touches on your group projects and presentations!

Winter Garden

The Winter Garden is the name of the large, open atrium in the Ross School of Business building where students from all degree programs congregate to study, do group work, meet up with friends and classmates, hold club events, kill time between classes, and wait in line for Starbucks. You’ll get to know the Winter Garden well as a Ross BBA!