Without a doubt, John F. Kennedy is one of Harvard University’s most accomplished and impressive alumni.
However, the former POTUS was not the best applicant when he decided he wanted to take up residence in Cambridge, Massachusetts. He had poor grades from high school, and while he had spent two months at Princeton University before leaving due to an illness, even his own father called him “careless.”
In anticipation of the 50th anniversary of JFK’s assassination, The Washington Post has highlighted many of his school records, including a handwritten Harvard application. You can check out the digitalized originals at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum.
As part of the Harvard application — which at the time was a mere three pages — students were asked to give a “careful answer” to the question “Why do you wish to come to Harvard?” Here’s what a young JFK had to say:
The reasons that I have for wishing to go to Harvard are several. I feel 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.
April 23, 1935
John F. Kennedy
From the JFK library, here’s the original:
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