Education is a topic I’m preoccupied with, in part because the skills gap is something nearly every business person I know is concerned about (as I wrote in my column last week), but also because I’m the mother of a high school junior who’s beginning to look at colleges. Last Monday, we attended the first of the formal tours, at Barnard (my alma mater) and Columbia.
① preoccupied [priː'ɒkjʊpaɪd] adj. 全神贯注的；心事重重的；被先占的
例句：Tom Banbury was preoccupied with the missing Shepherd child and did not want to devote time to the new murder. 汤姆·班伯里一心专注着谢泼德家失踪的孩子，不想在新的谋杀案上花时间。
On the one hand, the resources and opportunities were amazing, even more so than when I attended. Thousands of classes (as the Barnard tour guide told us, more than one for every student in the school), research opportunities with top professors pretty much on demand, and a variety of cultural and extracurricular offerings made me feel slightly paralysed by the tyranny of choice. Should we explore the African American model’s role in modern art? Take a virtual reality tour of the Columbia engineering school? Attend a lecture on identity and integration of Latino immigrants in Canada?
例句：He sat in his chair, paralysed with dread. 他坐在他的椅子上，吓瘫了。
③ tyranny ['tɪr(ə)nɪ] n. 暴政；专横；严酷；残暴的行为
例句：In our lives, which are filled with so many options (I used to joke that it was almost a tyranny of choice), taking a decision, a commitment in a no-going-back kind of way, felt good. 我们充满众多选择的一生中（我过去常戏言这是近乎专制的决断），做一个不留后路的决定和一个承诺使我感觉良好。
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Both campuses had been significantly upgraded since I graduated in 1992, with state of the art buildings designed by top architects. The tour guides boasted about the rather phenomenal dining services. At John Jay Dining Hall, where I carb-loaded my way to the freshman 15, you can apparently now request specialty meals prepared to suit all your possible gluten-free, vegan, Paleo, double half cap soy needs. There’s even a surf and turf night where students are treated to steak and lobster served on frisbees in the communal square.
例句：Exports of Australian wine are growing at a phenomenal rate. 澳大利亚葡萄酒的出口正以惊人的速度增长。
Our Barnard guide boasted of the superior counselling and group therapy services (“which is great since we’re all living in this crazy, stressed out time”), as well as the “well woman” space where students could get massages and facials. Everything that the wealthy, indebted or deeply scholarship-subsidised attendee could want, for $71,282 per year.
I came away from these tours feeling both awestruck at the opportunities available to those in top tier American higher education and troubled by the fact that much of the marketing focused on the luxuriousness of the experience.
例句：I stood and gazed at him, awestruck that anyone could be so beautiful. 我站在那里凝视着他，惊叹竟有这么美的人。
Psychologists have found that grit is actually the most important factor in success. But American colleges are in an arms race to attract a global pool of full fee-paying students, which has led to a trickle-down effect in which the top schools build more expensive facilities and offer more and more fabulous perks, which lesser schools then have to try and match in order to attract the top students, which in turn keep up their ratings in the all-important US News and World Report College Ranking. Without a high ranking, it’s tougher to charge nosebleed tuition.
心理学家发现，毅力才是成功最重要的因素。但美国大学正在进行一场吸引世界各地全自费学生的竞赛，这导致了一个涓滴效应：顶级高校修建更昂贵的设施，并提供越来越多你想象不到的福利，而稍微差一点的学校只得努力跟上，以吸引尖子生——正是尖子生帮助学校在至关重要的《美国新闻与世界报道》大学排名(US News and World Report College Ranking)中保住评分。没有一个高排名，很难收取令人咂舌的高昂学费。
⑦ grit [grɪt] v. 研磨；在…上铺砂砾，覆以砂砾；咬紧牙关 n. 砂砾，粗砂石；勇气；决心
例句：He felt tiny pieces of grit and sand peppering his knees. 他感到细小的沙砾正打在他的膝盖上。
⑧ fabulous ['fæbjʊləs] adj. 难以置信的；传说的，寓言中的；极好的
例句：This is a fabulous album. It's fresh, varied, fun. 这是个极好的专辑。它是新颖的、多样的、有趣的。
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The result is a giant bubble of debt for both the schools and the kids, which further bifurcates education and outcomes. Tuition inflation, state cuts and the fact that poorer college attendees must work while they study to pay for a four-year degree — which now costs on average 84 per cent of their family’s income — has led to terribly high dropout rates, something I’ve looked at in past columns.
例句：The blood supply bifurcates between eight and thirty times before reaching each particular location in the body. 血液在到达身体各个特定部位前要分流8到30次。
Amanda Ripley wrote a terrific piece about this dysfunctional dynamic recently for the Atlantic, and I also tackled the history of it awhile back in the New York Review of Books.
阿曼达·里普利(Amanda Ripley)最近就这种出了问题的事态为《大西洋月刊》(The Atlantic)写了一篇特别棒的文章，我前一段在《纽约书评》(New York Review of Books)上也探讨了相关历史。
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I felt a deep sense of cognitive dissonance following the visit. Education has been the route up for my family. My Turkish paternal grandmother was illiterate, yet her son was educated on a scholarship in the US and rose to the middle class in one generation. My maternal grandmother, the child of a Yorkshire coal miner, benefited from the British grammar school system and eventually became a nurse. My own parents, an engineer and a teacher, worked extra summer jobs to put me through college with no debt.
例句：The very act of awarding prizes seems to throw Tinseltown into a state of cognitive dissonance. 颁奖的真正效果似乎是将浮华镇抛进了一个认知失调的状态。
Touring top colleges with my daughter should feel like success and, at a micro level, it does. But I, at larger level, can’t help but feeling uneasy about a system that both wraps a privileged few in seaweed masques and leaves so many others crushed by the struggle to become middle class.
例句：Beijing will likely target such easing to help small businesses while aiming to avoid stimulus to the property sector, but any injection of liquidity would have a trickle-down effect. 政府此举的目的是为了帮助小企业度过难关，同时又不能刺激房产市场，不过当市场有资金注入时，慢慢的多少会有涓滴效应。