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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The word student is etymologically derived through Middle English from the Latin second-type conjugation verb studēre, meaning "to direct one's zeal at"; hence a student could be described as "one who directs zeal at a subject". In its widest use, student is used for anyone who is learning.


International variations

Students in rural Sudan, 2002
Over one thousand students in uniform during an assembly at a secondary school in Singapore


In Australia, after Kindergarten or Preschool, children begin primary school, starting with 'grade prep' (in New South Wales the first year is called Kindergarten, and in South Australia the first year is called 'Reception') and continuing 'year one', 'year two' through to 'year six', except in Western Australia, South Australia and Queensland, where they go through to 'year seven'. They then move on to secondary school (also known as high school) for 'year seven' ('year eight' in Western Australia, South Australia and Queensland) through to 'year twelve'. After year twelve, students may pursue tertiary education at university or TAFE (technical and further education). Children in primary and secondary school are all referred to as students. The term student is used for all learners including primary school, secondary school and university/TAFE.


In Canada, special terms are occasionally used. In English provinces, the high school (known as Academy or secondary school) years can be referred to simply as first, second, third and fourth year. Some areas call it by grade such as Grade 10, Grade 11 and Grade 12. Provincial variations can include Grade 9 in High School, though in most provinces, Grades 10 through 12 are considered High School, with Grades 7 through 9 called "Junior High." In university, students are classified as first-, second-, third-, or fourth-year students. In some occasions, they can be called Senior Ones, Twos, Threes, and Fours. First years are commonly known as "frosh", and the first week of university for first year students is commonly known as Frosh week.

Continental Europe

Students in a German village school, 1951
German students in first aid class, 1980
Grade name of German prep school student attending the grade
Fifth Sextaner
Sixth Quintaner
Seventh Quartaner
Eighth Untertertianer
Ninth Obertertianer
Tenth Untersekundaner
Eleventh Obersekundaner
Twelfth Unterprimaner
Thirteenth Oberprimaner

In Belgian universities, first-year students are called groentje in Dutch. In French, a bleu or "bizuth" is a first-year student. Second-year students are often called "carré" (square). Some other terms may apply in specific schools, some depending on the Classe Préparatoire aux Grandes Écoles attended. In Germany the term "Student" is reserved for those attending a college. Often it is shortened to "Studi" College freshman are called Erstis. Different terms for School-Students exist, depending on which school is attended by the student. The ones attending a university preparatory school are called Gymnasiasten, while those attending other schools are called Hauptschüler or Realschüler. Students, who graduate with the Abitur are called Abiturient. Those attending a university preparatory school may also referred to with different words depending on grade level.

United Kingdom and Ireland

In the past, the term "student" was reserved for people studying at University level in the U.K. Children studying at school were called pupils or schoolchildren (or schoolboys or schoolgirls). However, the American-English use of the word "student" to include pupils of all ages, even at elementary level, is now spreading to Britain (particularly in the state sector), as also other places where British English is primarily used, such as Australia and Singapore. In South Africa, the term "learner" is also used.

In England and Wales, teenagers who attend a college or secondary school for further education are typically called "sixth formers". If pupils follow the average pattern of school attendance, pupils will be in the "lower sixth" between the ages of 16 and 17, and the "upper sixth" between 17 and 18. They "go up" to University after the upper sixth.

In Scotland pupils sit Highers at the end of fifth year (when aged 16–17) after which it is possible for them to gain entry to university. However, many do not achieve the required grades and remain at school for sixth year. Even among those that do achieve the necessary grades it is common to remain at school and undertake further study (i.e. other subjects or Advanced Highers) and then start university at the same time as their friends and peers.

At universities in the United Kingdom and Ireland the term "fresher" is used to describe new students who are just beginning their first year. Although it is not unusual to call someone a fresher after their first few weeks at University, they are typically referred to as first years. There is little derogatory connotation to this name in the UK, except for an occasional reference to "freshers" in a tone that implies naivety. More commonly, it will be used in a kindly fashion. For instance, a University official might ask a student if they are a fresher without any hint of a put down.

At Trinity College Dublin under-graduate students are called, according to which year they are in, Junior Freshmen, Senior Freshmen, Junior Sophister or Senior Sophister, taking in the usual four year degree course. Sophister is another term for Sophomore, though the term is rarely used in other institutions and is largely limited to Trinity College Dublin.

The term, "first year" is the more commonly used and connotation free term for students in their first year. The week at the start of a new year is called "Freshers' Week" or "Welcome Week", with a programme of special events to welcome new students. An undergraduate in the last year of study before graduation is generally known as a "finalist."

The ancient Scottish University of St Andrews uses the terms "bejant" for a first year (from the French "bec-jaune" – "yellow beak", "fledgling"). Second years are called "semi-bejants", third years are known as "tertians", and fourth years, or others in their final year of study, are called "magistrands".

For school pupils, first of all is primary school and it starts off with an optional "nursery" year followed by Reception (similar to Kindergarten) and then move on to "year one, year two" and so on until "year six". In state schools, children join secondary school when they are 11–12 years old in what used to be called "first form" and is now known as "year 7". They go up to year 11 (formerly "fifth form") and then join the sixth form, either at the same school or at a separate Sixth form college. A student entering a private, fee-paying school (usually at age 13) would join the "third form" — equivalent to year 9. Many schools have an alternate name for first years, some with a derogatory basis, but in others acting merely as a description — for example "shells" (non-derogatory) or "grubs" (derogatory).

United States

In the United States, the first official year of schooling is called kindergarten, hence the students are kindergarteners. Kindergarten is optional in most states, but few students skip this level. Pre-kindergarden, also known as "preschool" is becoming a standard of education as academic expectations for the youngest students continues to rise. Many public schools offer pre-kindergarten programs.

There are 12 years of mandatory schooling. The first eight are solely referred to by numbers (i.e. 1st grade, 5th grade) so students may be referred to as 1st graders, 5th graders, etc. Grades 9 through 12 (high school) have alternate names for students, namely:

Before first year

Some high schools and tertiary institutions use the term "prefrosh" or "pre-frosh" to describe their newly admitted students. Schools often offer a campus preview weekend for prefroshes to know the schools better. Students are considered prefroshes until they register for the first class.

First year

A Freshman (slang alternatives that are usually derogatory in nature include "fish", "fresher", "frosh", "newbie", "freshie", "snotter", "fresh-meat", etc.) is a first-year student in college, university or high school. The less-common[citation needed] gender-neutral synonym "first-year student" exists; the variation "freshperson" is rare.[citation needed]

In many traditions there is a remainder of the ancient (boarding, pre-commuting) tradition of fagging. The student may also be subjected to a period of hazing or ragging as a pledge(r) or rookie, especially if joining a fraternity/sorority or certain other clubs, mainly athletic teams. For example, many high schools have initiation methods for freshmen, including, but not limited to, Freshman Duct-taped Throw, Freshman races, Freshman Orientation, Freshman Freshening (referring to poor hygiene among freshmen), and the Freshman Spread.

Even after that, specific rules may apply depending on the school's traditions (e.g., wearing a distinctive beanie), non-observance of which may result in punishment in which the paddle may come into play.

Second year

In the U.S., a sophomore is a second-year student. Folk etymology has it that the word means "wise fool"; consequently "sophomoric" means "pretentious, bombastic, inflated in style or manner; immature, crude, superficial" (according to the Oxford English Dictionary). It appears to be most likely formed from Greek "sophos", meaning "wise", and "moros" meaning "foolish", although it may also have separately originated from the word "sophumer", an obsolete variant of "sophism"[1]. Outside the USA the term "sophomore" is rarely used, with second-year students simply called "second years". The term "sophomore" is entirely unknown in Great Britain.

Academic procession during the University of Canterbury graduation ceremony

Post-second year

In the USA, a "junior" is a student in the penultimate (usually third) year and a "senior" a student in the last (usually fourth) year of college, university, or high school. A college student who takes more than the normal number of years to graduate is sometimes referred to as a "super senior".[2] The term "underclassman" is used to refer collectively to freshmen and sophomores, and "upperclassman" to refer collectively to juniors and seniors, sometimes even sophomores. The term "middler" is used to describe a third-year student of a school (generally college) that offers five years of study. In this situation, the fourth and fifth years would be referred to as "junior" and "senior" years, respectively.

Mature students

A mature, non-traditional, or adult student in tertiary education (at a university or a college) is normally classified as an (undergraduate) student who is at least 21–23 years old at the start of their course and usually having been out of the education system for at least two years. Mature students can also include students who have been out of the education system for decades, or students with no secondary education. Mature students also make up graduate and postgraduate populations by demographic of age.

Student pranks

University students have been associated with pranks and japes since the creation of universities in the Middle Ages.[3][4][5][6][7] These can often involve petty crime, such as the theft of traffic cones and other public property,[8] or hoaxes. It is also not uncommon for students from one school to steal or deface the mascot of a rival school.[9] In fact, pranks play such a significant part in student culture that numerous books have been published that focus on the issue.[10][11] Pranks may reflect current events,[12] be a form of protest or revenge, or have no other purpose than for the enjoyment of the prank itself. A recent report has been released focusing on the misbehaviour of university students. The report, Studentification: A Guide to Opportunities, Challenges and Practice, by Universities UK, focuses on six British universities as case studies.

Other terms

  • The term pupil (originally a Latin term for a minor as the ward of an adult guardian etc.) is used in Commonwealth primary and secondary schools (mainly in England and Wales) instead of "student", but once attending higher education such as sixth-form college etc, the term "student" is standard.
  • The United States military academies use only numerical terms, except there are colloquial expressions used in everyday speech. In order from first year to fourth year, students in these institutions are officially referred to as "fourth-class", "third-class", "second-class", and "first-class" cadets or midshipmen. Unofficially, other terms are used, for example at the United States Military Academy, freshmen are called "plebes", sophomores are called "yearlings" or "yuks", juniors are called "cows", and seniors are called "firsties". Some universities also use numerical terms to identify classes; students enter as "first-years" and graduate as "fourth-years" (or, in some cases, "fifth-years", "sixth-years", etc).
  • In the United States a "gunner" is an overly competitive student, typically in law school or medical school. A gunner is also overly ambitious and often excitedly volunteers oral answers in class that are, by turns, incorrect, off-topic, or specifically designed to demonstrate the questionable "intellectual" prowess of the person supplying them. A gunner compromises peer relationships to obtain recognition and praise from instructors and superiors, often by directly harming or attempting to harm the academic well-being of said peers.[13]

Idiomatic use

"Freshman" and "sophomore" are sometimes used figuratively, almost exclusively in the United States, to refer to a first or second effort ("the singer's sophomore album"), or to a politician's first or second term in office ("freshman senator") or an athlete's first or second year on a professional sports team. "Junior" and "senior" are not used in this figurative way to refer to third and fourth years or efforts, because of those words' broader meanings of "younger" and "older." A junior senator is therefore not one who is in a third term of office, but merely one who has not been in the Senate as long as the other senator from their state. Confusingly, this means that it is possible to be both a "freshman Senator" and a "senior Senator" simultaneously: for example, if a Senator wins election in 2008, and then the other Senator from the same state steps down and a new Senator elected in 2010, the former Senator is both senior Senator (as they have been in the Senate for two years more) and a freshman Senator (since they are still in their first term).

See also


  1. ^ Online Etymology Dictionary
  2. ^ Definition of a super senior retrieved 5 October 2006.
  3. ^ Seeley G. Mudd Manuscript Library: FAQ Student pranks
  4. ^ Kiwiblog » Blog Archive » Student Pranks
  5. ^ Watts, Jonathan, "Student prank that gave the Chinese a fit of the willies", The Guardian, London, 1 November 2003.
  6. ^ Epigram Online - Alarming consequences for student pranks
  7. ^ Ayala, Jamie, "Sticky student prank injures teacher",, Tucson, Arizona, 14 June 2007.
  8. ^ Nightmare on student street
  9. ^ Miller, Eli, "Oski and Tree Have Rowdy, Long History", The Daily Californian, 22 November 2002.
  10. ^ Peterson, T.F., Nightwork: A History of Hacks and Pranks at MIT, 2003.
  11. ^ Steinberg, Neil, If at All Possible, Involve a Cow: The Book of College Pranks, 1992.
  12. ^ "MIT 'hacks' mark Sept. 11 with a fake fire truck", The Boston Globe, 11 September 2006.
  13. ^ Polite Dissent » True Tales of Medical School: The Gunner: comics, medicine, and medical comics


Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary

See also student



Student m. (genitive Studenten, plural Studenten)

  1. student (male or of unspecified sex)

Related terms

Simple English

File:Math lecture at
Students in a math class

A student is a person who is learning something. Students can be children or teenagers who are going to school, but it may also be other people who are learning, such as in college.

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