Learn English – What does “rising senior” mean and what countries use it


I know it is something to do with universities, but as I have never come across the term before today (and have lived in England all my life including going to an English university), I am assuming it is only used by none native English speakers.

Senior common room is the common room that cannot be used by students doing their 1st degree, so I assume “rising senior” must in some way be related to students doing a 2nd degree.

Best Answer

Senior in the USA refers to the fourth year of a standard four-year college degree (an undergraduate degree or BA, for most Commonwealth English speakers). Students in the four years of a standard US college degree are known respectively as freshmen, sophomores, juniors, and seniors.

(Confusingly, the last two years of high school — roughly, ages 16 to 18 — are also known as junior and senior year. This is usually disambiguated by context, though.)

Rising senior genrally means that the person in queston is in between designations, but that senior will be the next applicable one. If I was a junior in the 2010–2011 academic year and will be a senior in the 2011–2012 academic year, then right now (summer 2011), I am a rising senior. It’s similar to the usage of going on in a phrase like “Jessica is six and a half, going on seven.”

If I’m right in reading this as a US or possibly Canadian usage, then it’s quite unrelated to the use of senior in phrases like senior common room; this is just one of those times when transatlantic differences really start to get jarring. I’m sorry…

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