本期精读来自The Economist关于芬兰教育制度的文章Too many well-educated Finns are missing out on university
这篇文章讲到了芬兰高等教育制度出现的一个问题:由于大学录取政策过于严格,很多有才华的年轻人需要经过漫长的等待才能上大学,有些人甚至错失了上学的机会。这对芬兰的经济发展造成了负面影响。政府目前已经意识到了这一问题,并且正在推行改革。
文章小标题Mind the gap year很容易让人想起Mind the gap,这是地铁站经常会出现的标语,用于提醒乘客注意站台和车厢之间的空隙,Mind the gap year在文中也有类似的意味:提醒人们要注意年轻人在读大学之前经历的“间隔年”,这些间隔年弊大于利,是不必要的。
下面是我对文章的具体分析:

Young people in Finland enjoy one of the world’s best school systems. By the age of 15 they perform well above average in international tests of science, reading and maths. That makes it all the more galling that once they leave school, their progress often comes to a halt. In America 90% of those who begin bachelor’s degrees do so in the same year they finish school. In Finland only 20% do.
芬兰的年轻人享有世界上数一数二的教育系统。到15岁时,他们在科学、阅读和数学的国际测试中的表现远远高于平均水平。而一旦离开学校,他们的学业进步往往就会停滞不前,这一点更加令人痛心。在美国,90%攻读学士学位的人在中学毕业的当年就能上大学。在芬兰,只有20%的人能做到这一点。
(1)That makes it all the more galling that…这里第一个that指代上一句的内容:By the age of 15 they… 而it则是形式主语,指代第二个that的内容:that once they leave school… 
All the more是一个短语,主要用来强调,意思相当于“更加”,XX makes it all the more adj. that…是一个很好用的强调句式,用来强调“某事让人感到更加……”,比如中国用全球10%的耕地养活了全世界22%的人口,我们可以说:
China has only 10% of the world's arable land, and that makes it all the more impressive that the country manages to feed 22% of the world’s population.
(2)come to a halt是一个固定搭配,意思是“(生长、发展、活动等)完全停止”,比如:The whole peace process seems to have come to a halt.  整个和平进程似乎已经停了下来。
(3)In America 90% of those who begin bachelor’s degrees do so…这里do so指代的是前面的内容:begin bachelor’s degrees,第一段最后一句也留了一个悬念:为何芬兰只有20%的人在高中毕业当年就能上大学?后文对此进行了解释。

Highly selective admissions are one explanation. Universities have traditionally made applicants pass long-winded entrance exams, in addition to tests they take at school. Excelling at both in the same year is difficult: school-leavers commonly perform worse than applicants who are a few years older and have had more time to prepare. The exams also discourage candidates from applying to more than one or two institutions. Because they have few back-up options, talented candidates who miss out on spots at the most prestigious universities often end up with no place at all.
(芬兰)严格的录取政策是造成这一现象的一个原因。根据传统,大学会要求申请人除了在中学参加考试外,还要通过冗长复杂的入学考试。在同一年内同时在这两项取得优异成绩是很困难的:中学毕业生的成绩通常比大几岁、有更多时间准备的申请人差。这些考试也阻碍了考生申请一到两所以上的院校。由于他们没有什么后备选择,有才华的申请者一旦没被最知名的大学录取,最后往往沦落到没学可上。
(1)Highly selective可以用来形容大学的录取严格,比如我们可以说:Peking University, one of the best educational institutions in China, has a highly selective admissions process.
(2)Somebody excels at something意思是“某人擅长某事”,比如:Rick has always excelled at foreign languages. 里克一向擅长外语。

The result is that lots of Finland’s smartest cookies end up taking at least one and sometimes several unplanned gap years. Many find that a pain. It is also bad for the economy. Finland’s population is among the fastest-ageing in Europe, says Tuomas Pekkarinen of the vatt Institute for Economic Research, a government agency; it cannot afford to let ambitious youngsters tread water. While they wait at tables or stack shelves, one in five jobs in Finland is filled by someone with lower-than-ideal skills.
这样造成的结果是,很多芬兰最聪明的学生最终要度过至少一个,有时是几个计划外的间隔年。许多人觉得这很痛苦。这对经济也会有不利影响。政府机构瓦特经济研究所的托马斯·佩卡里宁说,芬兰是欧洲老龄化速度最快的国家之一;它不能让有雄心壮志的年轻人停滞不前。当他们在餐馆端盘子或在超市摆放货架时,芬兰每五个工作岗位中就有一个由技能不足者担任。
(1)smart cookie是一个非正式表达,意思是“精明能干的人”,外刊里面有时候会出现类似这样的非正式表达,可以用来增加文章的可读性。
(2)tread water字面含义是“(游泳时)踩水”,它可以引申为“停滞不前,没有进步”,比如我们可以说:
Today many young people find work unfulfilling because they feel that they are just treading water in their job.
(3)wait at tables是一个固定搭配,意思是“(在参观)端盘子,当服务员”。

The government is trying to shake things up. Changes that came into full force last year require universities to accept at least half of applicants solely on the basis of their scores in school. Many candidates still sit entrance tests, but the idea is that universities should no longer require them to do much swotting in advance. Mr Pekkarinen says that disruption caused by the pandemic has made it difficult to measure the results, but that early signs suggest the reforms are helping to bring down the age at which most students start their studies.
政府正试图改善这一局面。去年开始全面实施的改革要求大学录取的学生中至少要有一半是只根据他们的在校成绩作为录取标准。许多考生仍在参加入学考试,但政府的计划是大学不应该再要求他们在考前花太多时间精力准备。佩卡里宁先生说,新冠疫情带来的干扰使得人们很难衡量改革的成果,但早期迹象表明,改革正在降低大多数学生进入大学学习的年龄。
(1)Shake something up是一个固定搭配,意思相当于“对某事进行改善(以使得其效率更高)”,比如:The new CEO shook up the company by asking some senior managers to leave.
(2)当我们要表达新的法律法规或者新的改变开始生效时,可以使用XX comes into (full) force这一表达,比如我们可以说:
The national security law, which came into force last year, has brought peace and prosperity to Hong Kong.
(3)“参加考试”除了可以说take a test,还可以说do/sit a test 
(4)我们可以用swot来形容学生考试前刻苦学习的状态,常见的搭配是:somebody swots for XX exams,比如很多大学生在期末考试前都会陷入恐慌并疯狂学习,因为他们已经浪费了大半个学期,我们可以说:
It is not uncommon to see college students get into a panic and swot for exams at the end of the semester, because they have spent the best part of the school year learning nothing at all.

Making admissions more efficient will help the government wring more benefit from the cash it is stumping up to expand the number of spots on offer. The share of young Finns with a degree has not budged much for a decade. At 42% it is below the rich-country average. The government wants to hit 50% by 2030. Last year it funded about 4,000 more places to help youngsters put out by the pandemic. Perhaps one day Finland’s school-leavers will come to miss all the time they used to get off.
政府正掏钱以增加大学录取名额,而提高录取效率将有助于政府从这些投资中获取更多收益。过去十年来,芬兰年轻人中拥有大学学位的比例一直没有什么变化,该比例为42%,低于富裕国家平均水平。政府希望到2030年这一比例能达到50%。去年,政府资助了大约4000个额外大学名额以帮助那些因为疫情而失业的年轻人。也许有一天,芬兰的中学毕业生会开始怀念他们曾经因为等待上大学而拥有的那些假期。
(1)Making admissions more efficient…与上一段第一句The government is trying to shake things up.表达的其实是类似的意思,只不过换用了表达,作者通过这种方式实现了两段的衔接。
(2)Wring something from something/somebody意思是“(费力地)从……身上弄到某物”,比如:They are always trying to wring additional funds from the government. 他们总想从政府手中争取到额外资金。
(3)Stump up指的是“(不情愿地)付钱,掏腰包”(to give money, often without wanting to give it),比如:It can be cheaper to stump up for a new washing machine than to get your old one repaired. 掏钱买个新的洗衣机可能比你修理旧的还要便宜。
(4)最后一句有点不太好理解,school-leavers这里指的是“中学毕业生”,get off意思是“休假”,句子中time是先行词,后面省略了that,句子相当于…come to miss all the time (that) they used to get off,上文提到由于芬兰严格的大学录取政策,很多中学毕业生不得不等上一段时间才能有读大学的机会,但目前政府正在对政策进行改革,将来可能有更多中学毕业生无须等待就能直接上大学,所以最后才说这些毕业生可能会怀念曾经的等待时间。

本篇文章我们学习了以下表达:
(1) That makes it all the more that...
(2) Somebody excels at something
(3) tread water
(4) shake something up
(5) XX comes into (full) force
(6) Somebody swots for XX exams
(7) Wring something from something/somebody
推荐各位同学使用这些表达造句以加深印象。

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