I received an email from a young student who said that she is a rising junior. I eventually realized that she means that since she is currently enjoying her summer break, she has not yet begun her third year undergraduate studies, so will be a junior once the summer break ends and she resumes studies, but at this time she is technically still a sophomore.
Is there a better word than rising to describe someone in her situation? One can change the verb tense - I will be a junior or similar, but that solves the issue through changing tense not finding a better word than rising.
One hears an incoming freshman or similar but while words like incoming sound fine when describing freshmen, it doesn't sound right to me to apply a word like that to a returning student.
I also don't like returning junior because then I might think that the person was a junior last year also and didn't accrue enough credits to qualify to be a senior yet so could be a junior again. It therefore is necessary for the word to show that the person is both returning and advancing (but I like advancing junior even less than rising junior - I've already reviewed the obvious synonyms like progressing.
Any takers? Is rising (and its close synonyms) the best that we can do?
EDIT: I'm continuing to research this on my own and I think a root problem is well captured here
Both present and past participles are often defined as “verbal adjectives,” but actually, they’re more like verbs than adjectives. [emphasis added] The “-ing” verb in progressive tenses is a participle. Take a sentence such as “Aardvark was skiing when you called.” You might be wondering, “What’s the problem? ‘Skiing’ looks like an adjective in the verb phrase ‘was skiing’.” It’s true that you could replace “skiing” with a bona fide adjective, such as “happy,” and still have a grammatical sentence. “Aardvark was happy when you called.” But look closer. “Happy” can do things as an adjective that “skiing” can’t. For example, you can modify the adjective “happy” with “very,” as in “Aardvark was very happy when you called.” You can’t do that with “skiing.” You can’t say, “Aardvark was very skiing when you called.” .....
To work through another example, take the phrase “falling snow.” You can’t say “very falling snow,” so it’s probably not an adjective. However, you can modify “falling” with an adverb: “gently falling snow.” So we can conclude that “falling” is a participle. [emphasis added]
Everything that applies to falling similarly applies to rising. Rising even when used as a verbal adjective retains the qualities of being more like a verb than an adjective. So whether rising is used as a verb or an adjective, either way the listener expects that rising will be a continuous action. But, in fact, the attainment of the undergraduate status of junior is a one-time, singular event.
However, I ran across the interesting term oncoming here as in oncoming senior where @Tom Au mentioned that he preferred it to rising. I think it's a credible answer and hope that he adds it to the answers if he happens upon this thread! The clear advantage of oncoming junior over rising junior is that while one is not in a continuous state of rising when waiting for the one-time moment when one officially begins taking courses as a junior, one is in a state of continuous expectation of that moment, therefore the moment of becoming a junior is continuously oncoming.
@Stephen Scott said "Someone who has completed his junior year and will be a Senior in the following year would more accurately be described as a Rising Junior. Or, at best, a senior in incubation." and his suggestion is based on the intuitive idea of rising for someone unfamiliar with the convention.
@Drew here makes his comment because, if you don't know the convention, rising is not a word that makes easy, intuitive sense.
A word like oncoming has the clear advantage over rising that even if one isn't familiar with the convention, the word oncoming has a very intuitive and natural meaning in this situation that anyone can understand.