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For the statistician "Student" see William S. Gosset

Students attending a lecture on linear algebra at the Helsinki University of Technology

The word student is etymologically derived through Middle English from the Latin verb "stŭdērĕ", 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.


In many countries, the word "student" or a cognate equivalent (e.g., French "étudiant") is reserved for higher education or university students. However derived adjectives in such languages (e.g., "estudiantin" in French) may also, or even especially (e.g., Dutch "studentikoos"), be associated with the non-academic, fun-loving side of stereotyped "student life" (in part organised, such as hazing, "Greek life" in North American Fraternities and sororities), although not all students induldge in this lifestyle.

International variations

Students in rural Sudan, 2002


Over one thousand students in uniform during an assembly at a secondary school in Singapore.


In Australia some university students favour the term "jaffy" for what Americans term "freshman" (a student in their first year of university/college studies), an acronym standing for "just another fucking first-year". The meaning refers to the fact that, having finished high-school as one of the most important students in a small school, the new students are suddenly the least important students in a large university, i.e. they are "just another" in a sea of irrelevant "freshmen". Though this is certainly not a widely used term like "freshmen" is in America. Otherwise "first-years", "second-years", etc., up to "final-years" are in most common usage. Children in primary and secondary school are also 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, fourth and fifth year. Some areas call it by grade such as Grade 9, Grade 10, Grade 11, Grade 12. There is no more Grade 13. 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

In Belgian universities, first-year students are called schacht in Flemish, or bleu in French. In Macedonia they are called бруцош.

United Kingdom and Ireland

At universities in the United Kingdom and Ireland the derivative form "fresher" is more often used to describe new students; the term "first years" is also commonly used (especially after the first term). There is no derogatory connotation in this name unlike its US counterpart. The week before the start of a new year is called "Freshers' Week" at many universities, with a programme of special events to welcome new students; some universities, however, are attempting to drop the connotative associations of "freshers' week" by renaming it "welcome week".[How to reference and link to summary or text] An undergraduate in the last year of study before graduation is generally known as a "finalist", or simply a third year (in England, Wales, Northern Ireland and Republic of Ireland) or a fourth year (in Scotland).

United States

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[How to reference and link to summary or text] gender-neutral synonym "first-year student" exists; the variation "freshperson" is rare.[How to reference and link to summary or text]

In many traditions there is a remainder of the ancient (boarding, pre-commuting) tradition of fagging. He 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 of the U.S. the term "sophomore" is rarely used, with second-year students simply called "second years".

File:Academic procession.jpg

Academic procession during the University of Canterbury graduation ceremony.

Post-second year

In the U.S. 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) which 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

Main article: Mature student

A mature, 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.

Particular groups of students studied

Psychologists have looked at particular groups of students in terms of student characteristics, academic achievement etc. These include:

Particular student populations

Professional training

See also

  • Student resources


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