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  1. 1. Education Getting a good education is important, as it will help you get a good job with a good salary. Every country has rules which govern its own education system. In the United States, as per the Constitution, each of the 50 states has the right to detail how their system of education is set up. However, the basic setup of education is practically the same throughout the United States. The first step of an American education is known as 'Elementary School'. (Some old- fashioned terms for this are “Primary School” and “Grade School”) Elementary school starts with “Kindergarten” and goes through either 5 th or 6th grade, depending on the state. (Kindergarten, 1 st Grade, 2nd Grade, etc.) On average, a child starts Kindergarten at the age of 5, although they may be younger or older depending on their level of maturity. Upon completing elementary school, students will then enter Middle School or Junior High School, which involves grades 6-8 or 7-9 respectively, again depending on state law. After that comes 'High School', which ends with 12 th grade. A student who successfully completes all coursework and earns a high enough GPA will graduate from high school and receive his or her high school diploma. Normally, if a student isn't held back or if he or she skips a grade, he or she will be 18 (years old) at graduation. If a student is unable to complete the minimum academic requirements of his/her high school (usually due to laziness), then he/she may “drop out”. This is highly discouraged, and can technically only be done when a student reaches the age of 18, when the student is legally an adult. However, it sometimes happens that students drop out before that age. A person who drops out of school is called a 'dropout'. If a dropout later wishes to complete his/her education, he/she may take a special test and earn a GED (General Equivalency Diploma – colloquially, General Education Diploma). Although one must pay to take the test for a GED, primary school is free for all children, regardless of citizenship. At this point, the high school graduate or holder of the GED has a choice. He or she can find work without further education, or he or she can try to attain higher education at a college or university. If they want to simply hone their skills in a technical field in order to get a job quickly, they can attend a technical, vocational, or trade school, for example in the field of carpentry or car repair. These schools often take only 6 months or a year, and frequently can be completed in tandem with a regular '9 to 5'. If a student desires to get a formal higher education, he or she will apply to a college or university. In the United States, there is virtually no difference between a college and a university. The terms are virtually synonymous. More often than not, a university is more prestigious and larger than a college, but this is not always the case. One of the best institutions of higher learning in the US is Dartmouth College, which is the smallest school in the Ivy League. Copyright©2010 All rights reserved
  2. 2. The Ivy League is a name for a group of 8 schools which always place near the top in the college/university rankings by the U.S. News & World Report. These highly prestigious schools include: Brown University, Columbia University, Cornell University, Dartmouth College, Harvard University, Princeton University, the University of Pennsylvania, and Yale University. Colleges and universities normally have a certain field of study that sets them apart from others. For example, Harvard University is known as the best school for lawyers, and the University of Pennsylvania is known as the best school for banking and finance. There are many other schools outside of the Ivy League which are highly reputed. Stanford University, founded by railroad magnate Leland Stanford, is currently ranked number 4 by the U.S. News & World Report, and specializes in Law, Business, Medicine, and Engineering. In the United States, certain fields are demanded more than others, but there is rarely a 'cycle of demanded specialties' which calls for doctors one year, and accountants the next. Paying for college and university in the United States is a big deal. Unlike in many European countries, higher education is NOT state-sponsored. The expense of higher education is enormous. Almost every university has an 'in-state' price and an 'out-of-state' price. Those living outside of the state must pay significantly more for tuition (usually several thousand dollars more per academic year) than those living within that state. That is, if I am from Louisiana and want to move to New York to attend New York University, my tuition is going to be significantly more than that of a New York resident. Luckily, there are various scholarships, both academic and athletic, that one can apply to to help reduce the expenses associated with college life. These expenses include tuition, room and board, books, and other living expenses. Some students live in apartments near the college or at home with their parents, but most students live in the dormitory. The American standard of living in the dormitory is high compared to that of Russia's, but it varies from university to university. There is no stigma attached to living in the dormitory, and in fact in most colleges, that is where the majority of camaraderie is. Foreigners (non-citizens of the USA) are given equal opportunity to earn a degree from an American university. They must first show that they are proficient in English, to ensure that they will be successful. This is established by earning a high score on the TOEFL test. There is no pass or fail mark on the TOEFL exam, and each university establishes its own score minimums. In addition to TOEFL, prospective college students, both national and foreign, will have to take the ACT or SAT test for the Bachelor's program, and a GRE, LSAT, or other specialized test for Master's degrees. In addition, there will be other requirements for entrance into a college or university, set by those institutions themselves. Common examples of such requirements are entrance exams or essays. College admissions boards, the group of people who determine which students are invited to study at a given university or not, will also look at the student's GPA, extracurricular activities, community service, and sports. A bachelor's degree usually takes 4 years to earn, and a master's degree usually takes an additional 2 years, although it is sometimes done in a single year. Depending on the subject, a bachelor's degree will be a B.A. (Arts) or B.S. (Science). Master's degrees are put into the same categories. Some continue their education even further after receiving their master's degree. These people continue with 1-2 years of additional coursework and research, culminating in comprehensive examinations and the writing of a professional dissertation. This doctorate education is often called a Ph.D. Which education system do you prefer – the US or Russian system? After successfully earning an advanced degree, it is easier to get a good job with a higher salary. However, in today's world amidst the global financial crisis, getting a good job is not a given for anyone. Only those who represent themselves well will succeed in getting a good job. Copyright©2010 All rights reserved
  3. 3. The job interview is a very important aspect in landing a job, as is making a good first impression. There are many famous people who have succeeded without a formal higher education. Bill Gates did not earn a college degree, and Steve Jobs, the founder of Apple, dropped out of college after one semester! Nonetheless, both are very rich, successful businessmen. What value do you place on a higher education degree? What qualities trump a degree in higher education? What fields do you think require formal education, and which do not? What assumptions do you make about people who have a formal education vs. those who do not? As per (something) = Official way of saying “in accordance with” or “as set forth by the rules of”. Normally used to describe something relating to an official document or business contract. [As per the housing lease agreement you signed last May, you must pay a yearly $150 fee for trash removal. When I return to Russia, I have to re-register with the Migration Service, as per foreign residency laws of the Russian Federation.] GPA = Grade Point Average. A numerical system used to give an overall, average score for a student's studies. [Sarah earned 3 A's and one B this semester, so she has a 3.75 GPA.] To be held back = A student is “held back” when they demonstrate a lack of maturity or academic ability. [Mrs. Johnson was forced to hold John back after he failed every exam. My sister was held back in 3rd grade because she acted like a kindergartener. So now she'll repeat 3rd grade next year!] To skip a grade = When a student is very smart and/or ambitious, he/she may skip a grade (ex: finish 3rd grade and start immediately in 5th grade), as long as he/she demonstrates such ability. [Tom made straight A's in 4th grade and was bored all year, so he took a special test with his teacher and decided to skip 5th grade.] To hone = To improve or perfect a talent/ability that is already well developed. [Evgeny Plushenko won the silver medal at the 2010 Olympics, but he may have to switch coaches in order to hone his skills to compete for a gold medal at the 2014 Olympics.] In tandem (with something) = Together and at the same time. [Bill and Sue didn't plan it, but they both applauded in tandem after the governor's speech. The clown was juggling knives in tandem with the bearded lady dancing on the same stage.] Reputed = [ADJECTIVE] (1) Having a good repute (reputation) [John always gives half of his salary to charity. He is reputed in the community. NOTE: Synonymous with “reputable”] (generally considered to be honest and reliable) (2) Being such according to reputation or general belief. [Although the police have not found enough evidence to arrest him, one can tell by the glances he receives in public that he is a reputed criminal.] Magnate = A successful and powerful person in a certain industry. Room and board = A place to sleep and food to eat. “Half board” is when a room and only breakfast and dinner are provided. “Full board” is when 3 daily meals, in addition to a room, is provided. Camaraderie = Goodwill and lighthearted rapport between friends; comradeship; a spirit of familiarity and trust existing between friends. [It is important for sports teams to have good camaraderie in order for them to perform well.] To culminate = To have or lead to an important result. [A series of financial disasters culminated in the collapse of the nation's largest bank.] Copyright©2010 All rights reserved
  4. 4. To trump (something) = To outdo or surpass something (in value/importance); To triumph over something. [Jack and I were both trying to get a date with Sally. For weeks we gave her gifts and spend a lot of time trying to win her heart. In the end, Jack's fancy Mercedes trumped my 1976 Lada, and Sally agreed to date Jack.] [NOTE: Origin of this verb comes from cards – trump card (козырь, like in “дурак”)] EDUCATION-RELATED TERMS To school (somebody): 1.To train or discipline (As his private tutor, Mrs. Smith schooled Viktor in history, mathematics, and foreign languages. Viktor is particularly well schooled in Ukrainian history.) 2.Colloquial variant of “To teach someone a lesson” (Oh man, I can't believe he scored so many goals against you. He schooled you! Yeah, you got schooled!) E-Learning = Web-Based Learning CONVERSATION Vadim: Crap! I've got a test in 2 days, and I haven't even started to study for it! Kai: What subject? Vadim: History and Methodology of International Relations Kai: Ut-oh.....your prof isn't Gutorov, is it? Vadim: Kai: You're dead meat! He's strict, and his exams are extraordinarily difficult! Vadim: Darn, I was afraid of that. I'll have to come up with a solution.....hmmm, what about cheat sheets? Kai: Cheat sheets are a no-go. He makes all his students put their bags and all notes in the far corner of the classroom before the start of the exam! Vadim: Maybe I'll write some key phrases and important dates on my hand. Kai: That won't work. He watches his students like a hawk throughout the testing period. Vadim: Oh man, this guy is tough. Maybe if I kiss up to him beforehand, he will be generous in giving me a score. Kai: Unlikely. It is well known that he is a heartless old man. Vadim: This isn't looking good! I'm running out of options here. Let's see.......maybe I can get him drunk? Kai: Well, actually, I heard through the grapevine that he's a raging alcoholic, so that's a possibility.....but how will you do it? Vadim: I'll just fill up his water bottle with vodka. Kai: But he only drinks Diet Coke. Vadim: Fantastic. I'll just fill it with one half Coke, one half Whiskey. Victory! Kai: Good luck! Copyright©2010 All rights reserved
  5. 5. Prof = shortening/nickname for professor (pronounced “proff”) You're dead meat! = You're in trouble = You have no exit/escape from the problem you are facing No-go = A situation in which planned operations cannot be completed. [Launching of the space shuttle was a no-go due to inclement weather.] To kiss up (to somebody) = To flatter and/or overly compliment someone in the hopes of getting something from them in return. [The only reason John is a starter on the football team is because he is constantly kissing up to the coach!] To hear (something) through the grapevine = To hear about something by rumor Just Speak! Written by Bunny Copyright©2010 All rights reserved