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A freshman (US) or fresher (UK, India, Ireland) (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 (e.g. They are first years).
Fresher normally denotes a first year college student
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, the whole of the student and academic traditions of Portuguese universities, a major part of it is the hazing of freshmen (in Portuguese, Caloiros). It is accompanied by a series of music festivals and 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 to force the freshman to sing university songs and paint their faces and nails with several colors and play several games. The tradition says that the haze must not involve harmful content or dangerous games. It is also tradition to host friendly dinners to the freshman so they can meet other people from their course. Usually are the third year students who guide the freshmen, and there´s a symbolic ceremony where the freshmen must choose a Godmother or Godfather from the third year to be his guidance through university years. When the ceremony takes place, the freshman no longer can be hazed unless his godparent gives permission. Most of times it is required that third year students must wear their university traditional outfit to the ceremonies with the freshmen. Usually the sophomores are not allowed to practice haze to freshmen or to join third year students and they are not allowed to wear the university traditional outfit on the first semester.
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. At some universities, certain students may continue to be referred to as "freshers" until they have sat their first examination.
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.
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).
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. Beyond the fourth year, students are simply classified as fifth years, sixth years, etc. Some institutions use the term freshman for specific reporting purposes.