By Doug Spurlock

This “Johnnie Glossary” aims at celebrating and defining the lingo, language, and terminology faculty and students use everyday that gives St. John’s College its unique culture and identity.

(Glossary Organized in Alphabetical Order.)

  • Croquet: This sport (and yes croquet is most definitely a sport) is an annual rite of spring, the Annapolis Cup brings together two starkly different schools—St. John’s College and the U.S. Naval Academy—for a croquet match like no other. The community-wide event attracts several thousand people to the heart of Annapolis for a festive lawn party complete with outrageous costumes, old-fashioned picnics, swing dancing, and, of course, the croquet competition. Thus far, St. John’s has won 28 out of the 35 matches.


  • CTCL: SJC is featured in Colleges That Change Lives a book that every college applicant should read. Turn to page 279 to find us.
  • Don Rag: Although grades are given at St. John’s, the students do not look at them. They exist merely for Graduate School or transferring purposes only. In place of grades St. John’s gives an oral evaluation, called a Don Rag for every student at the end of each semester. The phrase “Don Rag” comes the word: Don, what Oxford University calls its professors, and Rag: as in to “rag on someone”. The Don Rag isn’t a rag on the students however, instead most students use it as constructive criticism, in place of meaningless letter grades. You sit down with all your Tutors and they tell you in what areas you need to improve and in what areas you are doing well.
  • EC: the Eastern Classics Program of the Graduate Institute. Sometimes referring to a student of the EC program.
  • Febby: “February Freshmen”, the spring freshmen of the Annapolis campus. Discontinued in 2007. Annapolis’ equivalent of the Santa Fe “JF”.
  • GI: any Student at the Graduate Institute.
  • JF: “January Freshmen”, the spring freshmen of Santa Fe’s campus. Santa Fe’s equivalent of the Annapolis “Febby”.
  • Johnnie: A very unique individual who might “fit in” at St. John’s College. A Student at SJC.
  • Johnnie Chair: Love ’em or Hate ’em, these special wooden and wicker chairs make their home in every Class Room, and Dorm on campus. As well as the Coffee Shop, and the Dining Hall. “The Johnnie Chair” is also the name of the student blog you are currently reading.


  • Lab Ass: a Lab Assistant. Not someone who is an “ass” in lab class.
  • The Program: What we call the required curriculum that all Johnnies take. All classes are conducted seminar-style, with faculty participating in the discussion just as the students do.
  • Program Book: can refer to any book on the program / any book required to read for seminar.
  • Seminar:  A 2 hour discussion based class Monday and Thursday night from 7:30-9:30 (Santa Fe) or 8:00-10:00 (Annapolis). Seminar is the Heart of the Program and spans all four years of the St. John’s curriculum. The seminar is truly a sanctuary that not only allows for a particularly powerful encounter with the Great Books and the vital questions they raise but it also equalizes everyone in the room, and insists that all opinions are valid and should be entertained. Seminar also has a magical way of tying the whole program together.  Reading Lists—> Annapolis / Santa Fe
  • SJC: St. John’s College. Two campuses one College.


  • Teacher: the Authors of all the program books are our teachers here at SJC. For they are truly the ones we are learning from.
  • Tutor: we call our professors, “Tutors” because they guide and tutor us, unlike professors who “profess” to you in class. There are no lecture classes at St. John’s. The Tutor’s role in the classroom takes on many different forms depending on the Tutor. But all the Tutors would agree that they genuinely want to be a part of the class discussion as much as the students do.
  • Tutorials: are what we call the more hands-on classes at SJC. In the tutorials we are experimenting, demonstrating, and translating not just discussing. “Tutorial” refers to any class in the curriculum that isn’t Seminar. Laboratory, Mathematics, Language, and Music are all Tutorials. They are called tutorials because they are taught by tutors.

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