"The Freshman" was watched by 1.97 million viewers and received mixed reviews.
Michelle Graham from Film School Rejects reviewed the episode. "Despite a low quality start to the season, this episode certainly went a long way towards redeeming that slip. Blair and Chuck’s move from unstable pair playing games to stay fresh to a couple that support each other through the rough patches was very plausible, showing a strength to the relationship that we’ve seen flashes of up til now." Graham praised Georgina's return, stating that how the character "brought some humour and extra life" to the episode. On reviewing other characters, Graham found Serena and Chuck's storyline "predictable and dull" and was not on par with other story lines in the episode. Graham continued on to negatively reviewing the relationship between Nate and Bree but was surprised by Dan's storyline. "Happily, Dan’s meteoric rise to the top of the college social food chain was unexpected and had some enjoyable results, not to mention shockingly stupid."