I rank Jack in the top 5% of all my former junior students.

Is it comparing "Jack" with the students at current state but who were "junior students" or just comparing "Jack" with the students at their "junior" state?

Context: Jack is a junior student seeking the recommendation letter from the professor. But the professor doesn't teach anymore. So if he wants to rank Jack he can only compare Jack with his former students at Jack's current level.

  • 1
    We need more context to understand this fully, but Jack is clearly being compared to the "junior students" whom the writer taught in the past. Jack is probably also a "former junior student", but it is also possible that he is currently a "junior student". Presumably the context makes clear exactly what is meant. Commented Dec 18, 2016 at 15:07

2 Answers 2


As StoneyB mentions in his comment, more context would be helpful. However without extra information I can guess that "junior students" means "students in their junior year of school". In the American school system, four-year-long programs (high school and college) have names for each year of the program:

  1. Freshman
  2. Sophomore
  3. Junior
  4. Senior

So I would assume that "junior students" means "students in their third year at this school". Still, it is an odd sentence since "former" implies that Jack is now a senior student, so why not just say he is in the top 5% of the current seniors?

Of course, again, I can guess. But that's where the additional context would be useful.

  • +1 My guess is that a) the writer has at various times taught both senior and junior students and b) he taught Jack when Jack was a junior, so the proper population to rank Jack in is that of "all my former junior students". Commented Dec 18, 2016 at 15:58
  • A "former junior" could be a senior, a graduate, or a dropout.
    – dan04
    Commented Aug 13, 2019 at 3:09

"Former" implies to the past students. So, it appears to me that a Teacher is comparing a current student (Jack) to past Junior students.

Example: I know it is early in the school year, however, I believe Jack is deserving of a reward (scholarship, certificate, etc...) because is he works hard, has a great attitude and I rank Jack in the top 5% of all my former junior students.

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