Where Did Donald Trump Go to College? Did He Go to an Ivy League School?
Ever since Donald Trump took office, Americans have spent a lot of time talking about how intelligent — or educated — a president should be. There are no hard-and-fast rules, nor are there educational requirements for someone to be elected president. But how does our current president stack up? Where did Donald Trump go to college? And did he attend an Ivy League school?
Where did Donald Trump go to college?
The Washington Post reports that Donald Trump often cites his college background as evidence of his intellectual superiority. He graduated from the Wharton School of business at the University of Pennsylvania. But the achievement may not be as impressive as it initially sounds. According to the Post, “Trump did not get an MBA from Wharton; he has a much less prestigious undergraduate degree.”
Additionally, Trump didn’t spend his entire undergraduate career at Penn. “He was a transfer student who arrived at Wharton after two years at Fordham University, which U.S. News & World Report currently ranks 66th among national universities,” the Post explains. Trump reportedly had “respectable” grades at Fordham, but got into Wharton as a transfer student mainly because of an admissions officer who had gone to high school with his older brother.
Did Donald Trump attend an Ivy League school?
Donald Trump did, indeed, go to an Ivy League school when he attended the University of Pennsylvania. But one Town & Country writer noted some issues with the president’s “brash declaration” that he “went to an Ivy League college,” where he says he “was a nice student.” Elizabeth Angell writes, “one of the first things I learned when I arrived at my Ivy League college was never to use the phrase ‘Ivy League college.'” She explains:
You gotta do the dance. You don’t offer up the information voluntarily. Let them come to you. And when people do ask you where you went to school, say “Boston” or “New Haven” or “Philadelphia,” like they asked for a geography lesson instead of a simple piece of information.
Angell also reports that even though people use their “Ivy League” status as proof of their superior intelligence, geniuses stand out at Ivy Leauge schools because they’re as unusual there as everywhere else. “Most of the students at Harvard and Yale and Princeton and Cornell (remember Cornell!?!) are just cocky, entitled versions of the same idiots you find everywhere else,” Angell quips.
What kind of student was he was Penn?
The Boston Globe reports that when Donald Trump transferred to the University of Pennsylvania, he “was an outsider on the Ivy League campus in Philadelphia, with few friends.” But that didn’t faze Trump. The Globe reports that when a professor asked students in his small class why they had chosen to study real estate, Trump stood up and said, “I’m going to be the king of New York real estate.” The brash personality that Americans now know well “was already in full bloom during his college years,” according to more than a dozen Wharton classmates.
The future president reportedly spoke up often “but rarely shined” in class. (And as The Washington Post notes, despite Trump’s claims that he graduated first in his class at Wharton, the 1968 commencement program doesn’t list him as graduating with any sort of honors.) He barely participated in campus activities. He didn’t attend fraternity parties (perhaps because he doesn’t drink).
And the Globe reports that he “spent most of his spare time pursuing his dream: using his advantages as the son of a prominent New York real estate developer to get an early start on the business career that would make him very, very rich.” The Globe adds that Trump “had an in-your-face attitude about his quest for money from his first day on campus, said his former classmates.”
Donald Trump didn’t have the easiest path in college
The Washington Post characterizes both Donald Trump and his predecessor, Barack Obama, as “college failures.” What does that mean? It has to do with the data that colleges report on how many of their students manage to graduate in four years. Barack Obama and Donald Trump both transferred colleges. So, technically, no school ever reported either future president in their graduation statistics.
In fact, two schools — in their cases, Occidental College and Fordham University — even had to report them as “failures to complete.” Clearly, that didn’t hurt either of them. But the Post notes that it’s not fair for transfer students not to count in graduation or retention statistics, because it means that the school they transfer to “has little incentive to help them succeed.”
He doesn’t seem to think that academic credentials are important
According to The Chronicle of Higher Education, Donald Trump’s comments about his college education reveal “a dubiousness about the importance of academic credentials — even as he braggadociously touts his own — and an impatience with curricular pursuits that lack an obvious utilitarian applicability.” The publication adds that Trump saw higher education as a means to an end.
“Fordham University and the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, where Mr. Trump transferred to complete a bachelor’s degree in economics, were essentially credential factories,” the publication explains. To build the real estate empire he envisioned, he needed the degree. But as the Chronicle notes, “it was clear to Mr. Trump’s classmates that Mr. Trump’s relationship with Penn would be a transactional one; he would learn what he thought he needed to learn, and skim the rest.”
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