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Shankar Vedantam

Every year, many students who have overcome daunting obstacles in high school receive good news — they've been accepted to college.

These kids represent a success story: through hard work and determination, they've made into college, and perhaps even on to a better life.

Except it doesn't always work out that way.

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RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

You've heard the stereotypes - firstborn children are spoiled, middle kids get ignored, and the youngest kids act out because they crave attention. Well, new research shows that birth order really does matter.

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Turn on the TV, and you'll find no shortage of people who claim to know what's going to happen: who's going to get picked for the NBA draft, who will win the next election, which stocks will go up or down.

These pundits and prognosticators all have an air of certainty. And why shouldn't they? We, as the audience, like to hear the world's complexity distilled into simple, pithy accounts. It doesn't help that these commentators rarely pay a serious price when their predictions don't pan out.

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