US College Year Classifications
American colleges classify their students a number of ways: by major, by year, part-time or full-time... It's a little ridiculous. As I said, I'm a senior, but I have not, of course, always been a senior. First, Freshman, followed by Sophomore, and then Junior... Finally, finally, I was a Senior. The year-classification (Freshman through Senior) is measured a few different ways. The first and easiest way is by how many years a person has actually been in college. I've been in college four years, so I'm a fourth year student, so I'm a Senior. Technically.
Measuring by how many years is rarely accurate anymore. The more important way to measure is by credit hours; you'll hear students asking things like "So, how many hours are you taking this semester?" or "How many hours does that class give you credit for?" all the time. Most classes are worth three credit hours, and since the average student takes about five classes a semester, most semesters are worth fifteen credits. Two semesters a year at fifteen credits a semester equals thirty hours a year. As a result, each classification year is judged by how many credits you have, in increments of thirty. So, for example, a Freshman has up to thirty hours, a Sophomore between thirty and sixty, so on, so on. As a result, most Bachelor's Degrees take 120 hours, theoretically. Certain required classes have weird hour numbers. For example, almost all Science classes have three hours PLUS a lab class for one hour, so most Sciences are worth four credit hours. Trust me, if you go to college in the States, you'll get used to it.
The third way of judging someone's year is by the types of classes they're taking. Freshmen and Sophomores have to take Core classes, which are a mix of all subjects. This program is designed to make American students more rounded. It just made me hate math more. Eh. On the other hand, Juniors and Seniors will focus on one or two subjects, maybe three, depending on their major. So, if I hear that someone is taking Bio 101, Spanish II, World Literature, Art Appreciation, and Precal, I'm going to assume(, rightfully in almost all cases,) that he or she is a Freshman or Sophomore. If I hear someone is taking Victorian Lit, Romanticism, History of the English Language, Jamaica Kincaid, and Japanese I, since those are mostly classes of one subject, English, this student is probably a Junior or a Senior. Or me.