Alternate uses: Student (disambiguation)
Etymologically derived through Middle English from the Latin second-type conjugation verb "stŭdērĕ", which means "to direct one's zeal at"; hence a student is one who directs zeal at a subject. Also known as a disciple in the sense of a religious area of study, and/or in the sense of a "discipline" of learning. In widest use, student is used to mean a school or class attendee. In many countries, the word student is however reserved for higher education or university students; persons attending classes in primary or secondary schools being called pupils.
Currently, many children and teenagers are subject to compulsory education: by law they are required to attend some form of school. Laws vary from country to country, but most students are allowed to abandon their education when they reach the legal age of consent.
November 17 is the International Students' Day, which commemorates those students killed at the beginning of World War II who called for peace; specifically, the date was chosen as a memory to Jan Opletal, and events following his death.
In the USA, where undergraduate degree courses commonly last four years, the following terms are used:
A freshman (or, frosh) is a first-year student in college or university, or, chiefly in the United States, in high school. (This word came from England, but is now used far more frequently in America.)
A sophomore is a second-year student. Etymologically, the word means 'wise fool'; consequently sophomoric means "pretentious, bombastic, inflated in style or manner; immature, crude, superficial" (according to the Oxford English Dictionary). Coming from the Greek sophos, meaning wise, and moros meaning moronic.
A junior is a student in the third year of high school or college.
A senior is a student in the fourth and last year at a school, college, or university.
Freshman and sophomore are sometimes used figuratively, mainly in US English usage, to refer for example to a first or second effort ("the singer's freshman album"), or to a politician's first or second term in office ("sophomore senator") or an athlete's first or second year on a professional sports team. Junior and senior aren't used in this figurative way to refer to third and fourth years or efforts, because of those words' broader meanings of 'older' and 'younger'. (A junior senator is therefore not one who is in his or her third term of office, but rather merely one who has not been in the Senate as long as the other senator from his or her state.)
At universities in the United Kingdom the term fresher is used to describe new students. Unlike the American term freshman it sometimes only applies in the first few months of a student's first year; the North American equivalent would be frosh (in singular and plural).
Although freshman has not been as touched by political correctness as other words (such as chairman), some have begun calling first-year students freshpersons.