I'm looking for a word that means pre-academia. Academia is the establishment of those engaged in higher education (mostly graduate students and up), so pre-academia would be those engaged in lower education (mostly K-8, high school, and undergraduates). Is there a word/phrase that means this?

  • 5
    I've never heard of academia being isolated to graduate students and up. Feb 23, 2015 at 23:01
  • @guifa Got it from this answer on Academia.SE
    – michaelpri
    Feb 23, 2015 at 23:06
  • Yeah, most people in the US would interpret "academia" to refer to any college-level activities, from freshman to doctorate. I'm trying to remember the "standard" word for K-12 schools, but it's not coming to me.
    – Hot Licks
    Feb 23, 2015 at 23:34
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    The Academia SE answer to which you link does not at all imply that academia refers exclusively to the graduate level study and above, merely that an SE with that for its title is likely to draw mainly graduate students and faculty as participants. And for what it is worth, in my experience, liberal studies at secondary level are frequently termed academic[s] in contradistinction to vocational training. Feb 23, 2015 at 23:48
  • Higher education is all college/university, including at undergrads. Its logical antonym is lower education.
    – tchrist
    Feb 24, 2015 at 6:11

2 Answers 2


In the US:

  • Primary School - Grades Pre-Kindergarten to 5 (or 6) - Elementary School
  • Middle School - Grades 5-7 (or grades 6-8) - Elementary School
  • Secondary School - Grades 6 (or 7) to 12 - High School
  • Post Secondary - College, University (undergraduates) 'Academia' starts here in the US.
  • Post Graduate - Masters and Doctoral studies
  • Post Doctoral - academic work done after completion of Doctoral studies, depending on the discipline.
  • When I did my Masters, it was called a post-graduate programme, and included a post-graduate Diploma for those who dropped out before the dissertation. Work done after completing a PhD is called post doctoral. Feb 24, 2015 at 3:05
  • I am from California, and we never use the words "primary school or middle school or secondary school or post secondary." I really wonder if you are American, unless the east coast uses those words and not the west coast. Feb 24, 2015 at 4:58
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    @Michael: you may have lived your entire life in California, but you obviously know nothing about San Francisco. Or Los Angeles. (At least, with respect to their schools). Feb 24, 2015 at 11:48
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    @Michael: you just said "we don't use the word middle school" in California. I posted links to two pages containing a list of a dozen public schools in San Francisco and maybe fifty public schools in Los Angeles with the words "Middle School" in their name. Who doesn't know who he's talking about? Feb 24, 2015 at 11:58
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    In the U.S., even in California, grade 6-8 schools are called middle schools and grade 7-8 or 7-9 schools are called junior high schools. Which one you have depends on your school district. Feb 24, 2015 at 11:59

In America, we don't say it like that. We say high school students, if we are referring to students who are not yet in college.

We never say pre-academia or pre-university or pre-college, so using those terms would identify you as a non-native speaker.


In California, we use these terms:

Elementary School - grades 1-6
Junior high school - grades 7-8 or 7-9 depending.
High School - grades 9-12 or 10-12 depending.

NOTE: In California, it is less common to use "primary school" or "middle school" or "secondary school" or "post secondary". These words are being used commonly in many other states, apparently. Also, these words are commonly used in England. however.

  • Those aren't British terms! And I certainly know Californians who use them, too. Perhapps your experience is simply limited.
    – tchrist
    Feb 24, 2015 at 6:03
  • Primary , middle school, secondary school are definitely used in England commonly. In Southern California, they are terms never used by locals. Feb 24, 2015 at 6:10
  • google "primary school los angeles" and you will see "elementary schools" come up Feb 24, 2015 at 6:12
  • I have close personal friends from that area who vehemently disagree with you. Then again, I am talking about adults. Plus this says your state knows more than you do: cde.ca.gov/ci/gs/em/frstcls.asp
    – tchrist
    Feb 24, 2015 at 6:14
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    In the U.S., even in California, junior high is grades 7-8 or 7-9, and middle school is grades 6-8. Which one you have depends on your school district. Middle schools are quite common in California; both Los Angeles and San Francisco have middle schools and not junior high schools. Feb 24, 2015 at 12:02

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