As I said in my last “School Life” vocab post, the TOEFL has a lot of non-academic vocabulary related to school life. We’ve already looked at words and phrases related to the opportunities and choices you have on campus. Today, we’ll look at terms that are used to plan what classes you’ll take, and how you’ll prepare for a career after you graduate.
In higher education, “core curriculum” has two meanings. It can mean the most important classes in a specific major. For instance, the core curriculum of a Bachelor’s in Business Administration would be courses that focus on business principles and management techniques. “Core curriculum” can also mean the courses that are important in any bachelor’s degree, and must be taken by all students. This kind of core curriculum is sometimes called the “liberal arts core curriculum”. Liberal arts core curriculum includes classes in English composition, basic biology, introductory psychology, college math, world history, and so on.
The term “practical skills” describes abilities that are useful in a job or other necessary task. In life, practical skills include the ability to cook, basic literacy, and so on. In higher education, “practical skills” is a term related to “core curriculum.”
A degree’s core curriculum gives students “practical training”— training in practical skills. A nursing degree, for example, teaches practical skills such giving injections or measuring blood pressure. The core curriculum of a liberal arts degree gives practical training in practical skills that can help students in life. Math skills may help with money management, writing skills may help students communicate more clearly, etc….
On campus you may be told that you need to prepare to “join the workforce.” “The workforce” refers to any group of employed people. So, “joining the workforce” means getting a job (and hopefully a career) after you finish school. This term is linked to both “core curriculum” and “practical skills.” The core curriculum at your school should give you the practical skills you’ll use when you join the workforce.
“Better off” is a phrase used to compare different choices and situations. The best choice is the one you are “better off” making. The best situation is the one you are “better off” in. If you say “I am better off taking the TOEFL than taking the GRE,” it means you feel that taking the TOEFL is a better choice for you than taking the GRE. If you say you are better off studying in Canada than studying in Australia, it means that you think your situation will be better in Canada. At a university or college, academic and career advisers will often use this phrase to give you advice. An academic adviser may tell you that you are better off taking courses that are required for your major. A career adviser may tell you that you are better off working in the summer, because summer jobs help you gain valuable work experience.