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Freshman is commonly in use as a US English idiomatic term to describe a beginner or novice, someone who is naive, a first effort, instance, or a student in the first year of study (generally referring to high school or university study).[1]

New members of Congress in their first term are referred to as freshmen senators or freshmen congressmen or congresswomen, no matter how experienced they were in previous government positions.

High school first year students are almost exclusively referred to as freshmen, or in some cases by their grade year, 9th graders. Second year students are sophomores, or 10th graders, then juniors or 11th graders, and finally seniors or 12th graders.

At college or university, freshman denotes students in their first year of study. The grade designations of high school are not used, but the terms sophomore, junior, and senior are kept at most schools. Some colleges, including historically women's colleges, do not use the term freshman but use first year, instead.[2][3] Beyond the fourth year, students are simply classified as fifth year, sixth year, etc. Some institutions use the term freshman for specific reporting purposes.[4]

See Also[]


  1. Random House, Inc. (2006). freshman. Retrieved on 12 August 2007.
  2. Huffpost College (2012). UNC Drops ‘Freshman’ From School Vocabulary In Favor Of ‘First-Year,’ Media Controversy Ensues. Retrieved on 15 June 2016.
  3. Student Admissions Representatives (2010). Meet Our Student Representatives. New College of Florida. Retrieved on 19 December 2010.
  4. Office of the Registrar (2006). Glossary of Reporting Terms. University of Wisconsin–Madison. Retrieved on 12 August 2007.