9 English Words You're Bound to Hear at University

So you've taken the next step in your academic journey – you've got the books and you checked out the campus to make sure you know where your classes are, but how much do you know about university slang? Whether you're studying at an English-speaking university in the North America, the UK or Australia, you're bound to come across some common words that are native to the realm of higher education. If you're thinking of improving your English skills for higher education, it might be helpful to study up on these words so you won't be surprised when they come up in a conversation. Take a look!


1. Fresher/Freshman

A fresher is someone who is in their first year of university, if are in the UK. If you are the USA, they will be known as a freshman. This term is often used when describing welcoming events for new students, like fresher's week.

university freshmen
Your freshman year is a great opportunity to make new friends


2. Fraternity/Sorority

A common practice in the USA, fraternities and sororities are club-like organizations on college campuses. They have Greek names, like "Phi Kappa Tau", which is why they are often referred to as the Greek system. Students pay to be part of them and can live in a house with their particular fraternity or sorority. Fraternities are for males and sororities are for females, however they all interconnect as part of the same community of students.


3. Major

When studying at university, it's inevitable that everyone and their mom will ask you what your major is. A major is the academic discipline you commit to in order to obtain a degree in a specific field. If you are majoring in Biology, you are bound to take a few lab classes.

university major
What are you thinking of majoring in?


4. Pledge

This is what you would call someone who is hoping to join a fraternity or a sorority. Once again, this term is found most commonly in the US.


5. Prerequisite

A prerequisite is a course a student would have to take as an introduction before going onto study another course in that field. Many universities and colleges require students to take a set of prerequisite courses before they can advance in their major.

university book
These courses build a strong foundation for higher level classes


6. Reading week

In the UK, reading week is a week in the middle of the semester where there are no lectures or tutorials. It’s a chance to catch up on studies and prepare for any upcoming exams.


7. Seminar/Tutorial

On top of regular lectures, you often have sessions in smaller classes which are more for discussion and reviewing lectures rather than going through brand new material.

university seminar
This is a great chance to work with other students to understand weekly lessons


9. SU (Student Union)

This is a building on campus that is dedicated entirely to student activities. It will often have a student lounge, food and drink, and is a great place to meet representatives from campus clubs and events.


10. Uni

In the UK and Australia, you probably won't hear someone say "university." Rather, the more common term for higher education is uni.


Have you come across any other common English terms specific to higher education in an English-speaking country? Let us know in the comment section below or share your stories with us on Facebook.

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