JFK Was Kind of a Dunce on His Harvard Application

Sometimes you’ll be sitting in class with the daughter of a famous politician, and she’ll open her mouth to say something about geopolitics, and what will come out instead is her theory that there must be oil reserves at the Jersey Shore because everyone there is so tan. At those times you may innocently wonder, Jesus Christ on a fucking unicycle, how do these people get into Ivy League schools? Do they even fill out applications? And you’d be right to ask such a thing, because judging from a recent article in the New York Times, American royalty doesn’t need to apply to schools anymore to get accepted to them.

But lo, this was not always so! The Crimson’s FlyByBlog reports that the college application of John F. Kennedy, a Harvard graduate in 1940, has been posted online for the world to peruse. Granted, the Kennedys weren’t quite the social crème-de-la-crème that he eventually made them, but they were still the sort of people who’d be allowed to touch the Gutenberg if they asked. Behold: genuine proof that in 1935, even big fish had to submit college applications!

But they could still have bottom-feeder grades, apparently. His average was a 68, with particularly poor grades in French and Latin. His school principal certainly wasn’t oozing with praise in his letter to Harvard:

Jack has rather superior mental ability without the deep interest in his studies or the mature viewpoint that demands of him his best effort all the time. He can be relied upon to do enough to pass.

That might have been tender enough in 1935, but today it sounds like a libel suit waiting to happen. Kennedy didn’t do much to make a case for himself, either:

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.

Harvard is full of definite somethings, that’s for sure. But Kennedy’s application really skimps on smarmy, sycophantic adjective-dropping, a sure sign that he has no idea what he’s talking about. This shit would never pass muster on the Common App. Not to mention the fact that he sounds more eager to own an embossed Harvard money clip than he does to have a Harvard education–although that’s pretty much true for all Harvard students, so pass.

Imagine if that turned up in a college admissions box this year, when the number of Harvard applicants rose to a whopping 35,000. Guess it’s a good thing the Kennedys just have to make phone calls today.

13 Responses to “JFK Was Kind of a Dunce on His Harvard Application”

  1. Cheese Says:

    Check out his Princeton app. Very much “Find and replace”

  2. student Says:

    Hey, there was a lot more work involved in it back then! (lol)

  3. CU '11 Says:

    I could be wrong, but his high school scores seem very poor (overall average just 68 out of 100?). It just shows that the American aristocracy will always have their share of spots saved for them at top schools regardless of academic performance in secondary school. Then they become political leaders. No wonder our government sucks. We don’t have enough leaders who are genuinely intelligent. The aristocracy is ruining us, but no one cares..

  4. Stop. Rugby time. Says:

    His principle did say “Jack has rather superior mental ability without the deep interest in his studies…” So he was an intelligent person, just lazy in his youth. And who can’t be accused of that?

  5. Anonymous Says:

    are political leaders. No wonder that the government sucks. We do not have enough leaders who are genuinely intelligent. Elite is destroying us, but nobody cares ..

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  6. Custudent21 Says:

    Did anyone else read it with the “Kennedy accent”?

  7. CochiseDaBise Says:

    YES I DID. 

  8. Primatebuddy Says:

    Hell yeah…how can you not?

  9. Ratstack Says:

    Anybody else get here from Cracked?

  10. mike d Says:


    …And thanks for showing the world that cracked readers are the cream of the crop smartest, commenters, out on the internet ;-).

  11. Thisisgoddude Says:

    Im here dude. And happy there are three of us

  12. mike d Says:

    To be fair, didn’t Einstein had somewhat poor grades at various times in his life as well, depending on the subject.

  13. RyEhN Says:

    If the rest of his application essay reads in a style comparable to that which is quoted above, then I am truly surprised that he was admitted, particularly given that his was only a one generation legacy, and that, as the article points out, the Kennedy family was yet to achieve the notoriety that would later allow them to simply “make a phone call” in order to gain admission. 

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