A freshman (US) or fresher (UK, India, Ireland, South Africa) (or sometimes fish, freshie, prep; slang plural frosh, freshmeat or pichones) is a first-year student in secondary school, high school, college or university. The term first year can also be used as a noun, to describe the students themselves or others (e.g. They are first years).

United StatesEdit

In the United States, freshman, rather than being a slang term, is officially used by most high schools and universities.

Freshman is commonly in use as an 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 freshman congressman, 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 Sophomores, Juniors, and Seniors are kept at most schools. Some Women's colleges in the US do not use the term Freshman, but use the perceived gender neutral term: First Year, instead. Some liberal arts colleges do not use the terms Freshman, Sophomore, etc. at all, but rather stick to First Year, Second Year, Third Year, and Fourth Year designations.[2] Beyond the fourth year, students are simply classified as fifth years, sixth years, etc. Some institutions use the term freshman for specific reporting purposes.[3]


Fresher normally denotes a first year university student. It is not normally used in secondary schools to refer to first year students.


In India, a first year student in college is casually termed as 'First Year Student' for male and female. In more formal language, the term 'Fresher' is applicable for both the genders.

Australia and New ZealandEdit

The term first year is used within Australia and New Zealand universities, primarily to describe students in their first year of tertiary education direct from secondary school.


In the Portuguese Praxe, referring to all student and academic traditions of Portuguese universities, a major component is the hazing of freshmen (known in Portuguese as Caloiros). There are also many music festivals and a great deal of partying.

There is an actual "Praxe Code" that describes the entire set of traditions, including the Freshman's rights. These include "The Freshman has NO rights" so he must obey. One of the traditions includes forcing the freshmen to sing university songs and paint their faces and nails with several colors and partake in various games. The tradition requires that hazing be moderate and not endanger anyone. It is also tradition to host friendly dinners for the freshman so they can meet fellow students. It is usually the third year students who "guide" the freshmen, and there´s a symbolic ceremony where the freshmen must choose a "Godmother or Godfather" (mentor) from the third year students to "guide" them throughout their university years. After the mentor is formally chosen, the freshman can no longer be hazed except with the mentor's permission. Third year students wear the traditional university outfit most of the time but it is a must to wear it at freshmen ceremonies. Sophomores are usually not allowed to haze freshmen or to join third year students, they are also not permitted to wear the traditional university outfit during their first sophomore semester.

England and WalesEdit

The term first year is occasionally used in the pre-University and college English education system, and in schools it is no longer in official usage. In England and Wales a student's school career (not including pre-school nursery education) now begins with Reception, usually at the age of four, and continues up to either Year 11 or Year 13 depending on whether the student is going on to further education. However, in informal usage the term "first year" is still very common. Before the introduction of the "Year [number]" in most secondary schools in September 1990, the first year or first form almost always referred to the first year of secondary education. Years 12 and 13 are known as Sixth Form or "lower sixth" and "upper sixth" respectively.

In English universities, new students are referred to as "freshers", but not "freshmen" or "freshwomen". They are, of course, first-years, but generally only called "fresher" early in the first year, notably in the first week of attendance when specific activities are organised, both academic and social, using this expression. At some universities, certain students may continue to be referred to as "freshers" until they have sat their first examination.


In Scotland, the first year of compulsory education is Primary 1 (P1). The first year of secondary school is known as S1 but one can freely use first year.

At the four ancient Scottish universities the traditional name students for the four years at university Bejant/Bejantine (1st), semi (2nd), Tertian (3rd) and Magistrand (4th), though all Scottish universities will have a "freshers' week" and the term is as widely used with more traditional terms.


The first year university student is called "Matricola"

See alsoEdit


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