How to Talk in English like an American College Student? 20 Slang Words You Must Know

May 31, 2018
31 May 2018,

When international students start university in the US, they not only have to learn about their chosen subject, but they will also  have to learn American college slang.   In other words they will need to learn how to talk in English like American college kids! Adapting to life in a foreign country is a challenge to anyone but it is specially challenging if you constantly hear phrases and slang expressions that you have never heard before.

American slang includes words, expressions and phrases. Here are 20 American slang expressions together with their meanings. If you have been worried about how to talk in English like an American, this guide will help you for sure 🙂


Ace a test

Meaning:       To ace a test means to achieve an excellent grade.

Example:        She aced the maths test.



Full ride

Meaning:       To achieve a 100% scholarship for college education.

Example:        He got a full ride to the university because he achieved such excellent grades at High School.



Cut class

Meaning:       Not going to a class at college.

Example:        He cut the science class today to study for his biology test tomorrow.



Drop a class

Meaning:       To stop taking a class in a certain subject.

Example:        I am debating dropping the philosophy class as I do not enjoy it.



Slack off

Meaning:       Not to work hard enough either on a subject or at a certain time of year.

Example:       I slacked off working coming up to Christmas as there were too many parties to go to.


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Pull an all-nighter

Meaning:       To stay awake all night studying for a certain subject.

Example:        She had to pull an all-nighter to finish the history project last night as she had to hand it in today.



Couch potato

Meaning:       Somebody who is lazy and spends most of his or her time doing things sitting on a couch.

Example:        He is a couch potato as he spends too much of his time playing computer games sitting on his couch.



Going Dutch

Meaning:       To share the bill 50:50 – in other words pay half each.

Example:        They went Dutch the first time they went out on a date.



Hang out

Meaning:       To socially or casually spend time together

Example:       They will hang out tonight so they can get to know each other better.



Pass the buck

Meaning:       To pass the blame or responsibility onto another person.

Example:        He passed the buck as he did not want to be blamed for what happened.



Take a raincheck

Meaning:       To postpone a meeting to a more convenient time.

Example:        They took a raincheck over playing football today as they have to revise for the test tomorrow.



Down to earth

Meaning:       Someone who is practical and not showy

Example:       She is down to earth so she will give you good advice.



Piece of cake

Meaning:       Refers to something that was easy to do.

Example:        Jenny said “The exam this morning was a piece of cake”.




Meaning:       This refers to an area on campus where students meet.

Example:        Meet me at 1 pm at the quad and I will tell you the whole story!



Freshman, sophomore, junior and senior

These are the names given to college students.

Freshman:     A first year student.

Sophomore:  A second year student.

Junior:     A third year student.

Senior:      A fourth year student.



Freshman 15

Meaning:       This refers to the weight gain of 15 pounds that a freshman may put on in the first semester they go to college after leaving home.

Example:        I now realise that Freshman 15 is true as I have put on weight!


Spoken English Practice Rating by Yurij
Yurij From Russia
I finally passed my IELTS exam and got the results I wanted (L-8.5, R-8.5, W-7.0, S-7.0, O-8.0). Thanks for the service. Emily was a great conversation partner. She always prepared good topics and questions. On the writing part of the exam I got a topic related to one of the topics we had discussed with her. It was about zoos and elephants and was very helpful. Practice is extremely important for learning to speak English. Spoken English Practice provided me with a lot of practice on a regular basis.In the beginning, it was hard for me to remember words and speak fluently. From time to time, I had to look up words in a dictionary. Sometimes I knew the word but could not remember it until I looked it up in dictionary. After some time it became much easier. I get accustomed to the words I use the most. I also learned to replace the exact words I cannot remember with other words that are not exact but have a close meaning. As a result, I became much more fluent and more confident in my speaking skills



Meaning:       This refers to students in their final year who become lazy and stop working as they know that student life is almost over.

Example:        Even clever students get senioritis towards the end of their final year.



Turkey Dump

Meaning:       This happens when a college student goes back home to celebrate Thanksgiving and dumps the boyfriend or girlfriend.

Example:        I was turkey dumped over the Thanksgiving break!



Struggle Bus

Meaning:       When a student has a huge amount of work to do and seems to have too much to handle.

Example:       He has an exam tomorrow and 3 papers due by the end of this week – he is riding the struggle bus.




Meaning:       This stands for bring your own beer or booze.

Example:       We are going to Sally’s party tonight. It is a B.Y.O.B. party. Shall we take some beer?


Study method – How to talk in English like an American college student

So you are still here? That means you want to know how talk in English like an American college student. Our suggestion is to learn one new slang word every day for 6 months. You will expand your vocabulary by 180 words easily.

Question is: How can we use those new words in real conversations? In other words, how to talk in English naturally using the new slang words? For that you need to practice with a Native English teacher. This is the best way to improve fluency and learn to use slang words in real conversations. Also, you will improve your accent and pronunciation faster by practicing with a native English speaker.

How to Talk in English – Bonus slang words to make you sound more natural!

There are other slang words and expressions which are used by students at college for example pregame, norts, keeping it 100, RT, froomie and flakey. If you want to explore more on this topic, this is a great post. Another good free resource is this eBook compiled by the US department of state website on American English. If you are an international student starting college in the US, it is especially important to learn these slang expressions as students have a life of their own and by learning these expressions will allow you to mix and enjoy the social life to the fullest.