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Beth was the best and the brightest at Hancock High, a small school in rural Hancock County, Tennessee. All her life, she dreamed about being at the top of her class and someday becoming a doctor.

Throughout high school, Beth took the most challenging courses offered and maintained a perfect 4.0 grade point average. On graduation day, she walked across the stage as class valedictorian. Though she'd hoped to attend an Ivy League university, Beth accepted a scholarship at a more affordable state college.

Instead of excelling during her freshman year, Beth found herself struggling through pre-med classes. "I had never been taught how to use a microscope," she says. "When I came into pre-calculus, I was completely left behind. I had to go back and learn things that I should have already known from high school."

Now a college sophomore, Beth is a full year behind in science and math. "I did everything that I could to prepare myself for college, and it still wasn't enough," she says. "I don't feel smart at all in college...I feel like I'm stupid."
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FROM: What Bill and Melinda Gates Want You to Know
Published on April 11, 2006

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