Students who excel in school often take advanced courses so they can go on to a special-purpose high school and then a prestigious university to eventually get a coveted job such as a doctor or lawyer. Lee Ji-su, 30, the author of a book of essays titled “Life out of Orbit,” said she thought she would also take a similar route after graduating early from a science high school. But she failed to get into a prestigious university. She then thought her life could not enter the ideal “orbit” she had pictured in her mind.

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