A college career for an undergraduate student is usually divided by four academic standings known as freshman, sophomore, junior and senior. These different student classifications depend on the current stage of the student and the amount of credit hours earned towards the degree.
A bachelor’s degree is usually meant to be completed in a 4-year course if you are a full-time student which is a student that takes the minimum of credits expected by the university. Most colleges recommend taking 15 credits every semester in order to graduate in four years. However, we find that many people are part-time students while others exceed the number of credit hours expected and they graduate in less than four years. When these scenarios take place, the student classification is differing from those expected “four years” and that is why the stage of the student is determined by the number of credits taken. Not everyone follows the conventional 4-year program because of several reasons and some majors might take more or less time than others.
Now, we are going to define each of these terms, as well as explain the differences between being a freshman, sophomore, junior, and senior.
A freshman in college is also known as a first-year student. It is the first year of a college career and it is a new phase of their life. Incoming freshman students that start college right after finishing high school are generally 18 or 19 years old. On the other hand, you can also find students from all different ages. There are some teenagers that graduate early from high school, whereas so many students might start college later. You can always start pursuing your degree no matter what your age is! It’s never too late to start your career or to go back to school to earn more degrees.
As freshman, students usually go through some adjustments because they are living new experiences, meeting new people and they might be away from home for the first time. Before starting classes, students go through orientation, which prepares them for the transition from high school to a new university. During orientation, students start learning their way around campus, attend to informational meetings, learn the school policies and it is also a great opportunity to start meeting new people. In addition, students can find out about the several on campus organizations and start thinking if they are interested in any and they would like to join.
Many universities require a first-year residency, which means that student have to live on campus during their first year. Most of the freshman live in the dorms and that can help students adapt considerably because they are more connected and involved in the campus life. It also helps freshman so they can bond with their roommates and learn how to be independent and live in community. Finally, living on campus also makes it easier because of the proximity of the classes and resources.
A sophomore is typically known as a second-year student. However, in order to be considered a sophomore, students should generally have completed a minimum of 30 credit hours. Each school is different, and the amount of credit hours can vary depending on their requirements. The typical sophomore student is around 19 and 20 years old.
For the second year of college, students can choose between staying in the residence hall or making the decision of getting out of the dorms and start living off campus on their own. After experiencing the first year of college, sophomores are usually more prepared and have already made friends in the dorms, classes or while doing other activities. Therefore, some of them want to get out of the dorms and share apartments with closer friends and people that they might feel more comfortable living with. Another advantage of living off campus is that usually the apartments are more spacious, and you might not have to share your room with other people.
During this stage, classes are starting to get harder because there are not as many introductory classes as the first year. Sophomores usually begin to take more classes of their major and the difficulty increases. If students have not still declared their major, this is the year to make the final decision! It is also a good moment to consider if you want to do a minor and look at your academic options, it is a great year to shape your education career.
A junior is also known as a third-year student. In order to be considered a junior, students must have completed a minimum of 60 credit hours (as we said before, it can vary depending on the school). Junior students are considered upperclassman because they have already been in college for two years which have helped them mature and gain experience during their college journey. It is also the year before being a senior!
During the junior year, classes are definitely getting harder and the workload increases as well. Professors usually assign more projects, especially group projects, which give valuable experience on how to work together with more people and maybe the students can develop new skills like teamwork and leadership.
If students have not done it yet, junior year is the time to being working on the resume and look for opportunities that will help them in order to get more experience in their selected field. Juniors are recommended to start applying for internships so they can engage in a real-life experience that will provide some new challenges and skills.
A senior is usually referring to a higher classman. If students have taken full-time classes, it is usually their fourth and last year of college. To be considered a senior, the general rule is that students must have completed a minimum of 90 credit hours. This is the last stage of college; students make sure they meet all the requirements and finish all the classes in order to get their degree and graduate from college!
It is a period to combine the school work while looking for future job opportunities, applying for graduate school or other desired adventures. Luckily, most universities provide career centers where students can prepare on how to handle these situations. For instance, career centers help students to get ready for interviews by teaching them how to prepare for the questions and dress appropriately as well. In addition, they also give some tips and advice students in order to make great résumés and cover letters. Universities also provide other resources that support students during the graduate school application process. Finally, schools also set up several career affairs where students can network with employers and find out about open job opportunities!
Senior year is the time to complete the college career and meet all the necessary qualifications that the student needs for their degree. It is a good opportunity to enjoy the last year as an undergraduate student while preparing the next steps of their life. Students have grown and developed during the previous years and now they are ready to start on a new chapter.
Hope you have a better idea of the different stages of a student while attending university. We recommend you to have a look at other posts here in Mooxye for more information about colleges, degrees, and scholarships. We also encourage you to create a profile in Mooxye and start discovering new opportunities for you.