JFK's Harvard Application: Would He Have Gotten In Today?

Would JFK Get Into Harvard Today?

John F. Kennedy's Harvard application shows just how far college admissions have come in the last 75 years.

The 26-page document, recently released by the John F. Kennedy Library and Museum, lacks praise for the young Choate student. The future president is described by a family friend as "reliable and dependable," and a note from his father states that young Jack tends to "lack application."

Would Kennedy have gotten into Harvard today? Well, he has some factors in his favor. For one, according to college consultant Barbara Cooper, he's a legacy, and legacy applicants have a decided edge in the admissions process.

But the piece de resistance of any college application, the why-I-want-to-go-to-this-school essay, might have hurt Kennedy's chances.

"The reasons that I have for wanting to go to Harvard are several," he wrote. "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 to[?], 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."

To say it's a bit lacking would be an understatement. "The essay itself, from today's point of view, is missing a true understanding of the unique features of Harvard's offerings," Cooper said. "It's not even clear if he visited or attended the information session, which many schools say is essential to indicating that you have an interest."

Harvard received a record 35,000 applications for its class of 2015.

Read the application in full below.


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