Speaking of Notable Prefrosh: JFK’s Harvard App

John F. Kennedy: outstanding U.S. president, brother of Ted Kennedy P ’83, Hon ’84, mediocre Harvard applicant??

It’s been half a century since JFK (Harvard ’40) was inaugurated president. In commemoration of the occasion, reports the Harvard Crimson‘s Flyby blog, the JFK Presidential Library and Museum has “opened a virtual treasure trove of digitized documents concerning the personal and professional life of America’s 35th president, including Kennedy’s complete 1935 application to Harvard College.”

Shit—and here I was all excited when I only just found out I can access my own application (to Wes, not Harvard) via the dean’s office.  Kennedy’s application is online here—including his astoundingly mediocre high school transcript from The Choate School in Wallingford, Connecticut (68 average? 50 in Physics? Really, Mr. President?). Among the rest of the contents are a letter of recommendation from family friend Edward E. Moore, an unenthusiastic endorsement from high school principal (“[Jack] can be relied upon to do enough to pass”), and a less-than-inspiring “Why Harvard?” essay, which reads like particularly douchey dialogue from The Social Network (particularly I’m reminded of that especially cringe-worthy scene where the Winkelvoss twins spout all that pompous gibberish about being “men of Harvard“):

The reasons that I have for wishing to go to Harvard are several. I felt that Harvard can give me a better background and a better liberal education than any other university. I have always wanted to go there, as I have felt that it is not just another college but is a university with something definite to offer. Then too, I would like to go to the same college as my father. To be a “Harvard man” is an enviable distinction, and one that I sincerely hope I shall attain.

And to be a “Wesleyan man” is, um, less enviable and vaguely emasculating? I guess JFK can defer to nephew and proud Wes alum Edward M. Kennedy, Jr. ’83 on that one. Again, here’s the application link. Stay tuned for my dialectical analysis of Obama’s Columbia transfer app in 2059.


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