John F. Kennedy may be most associated with a particular brand of Massachusetts elitism that only his alma mater Harvard University can offer — they even
named a school after him— but our 35th president actually started off his collegiate career as a Princeton undergraduate.
JFK only spent about six weeks at Princeton before leaving due to an illness, but according to his application to the school, he “had the ambition to enter Princeton” ever since he’s been in school. Wait, but he told Harvard a few months later that “I have always wanted to go there.”… Conflict?
As people have pointed out, JFK’s application essay to Princeton is basically identical to the five sentences he wrote to get into Harvard, except he was answering this question: “Give below as complete a statement as possible of the reasons that led you to select Princeton as your college, and state what special advantages you expect to gain from a course at Princeton.”
You can read his Harvard essay here, and here’s what JFK wrote to get into his first dream school, Princeton:
My desire to come to Princeton is prompted by a number of reasons. I feel that it can give me a better background and training than any other university, and can give me a true liberal education. Ever since I entered school, I have had the ambition to enter Princeton, and I sincerely hope I can reach my goal. Then too, I feel the environment of Princeton is second to none, and cannot but help having a good effect on me. To be a “Princeton Man” is indeed an enviable distinction.
March 8, 1935
John F. Kennedy
From The Daily Princetonian’s blog The Prox, here’s the original:
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