This weekend, President John F. Kennedy’s youngest grandchild, Jack Schlossberg, celebrated his graduation from Harvard, where he earned dual graduate degrees in law and business — a feat that no doubt required hard work and endless hours of studying.
But getting into Harvard at all is certainly easier with money, connections, and a family history — and that was especially true when JFK himself enrolled in 1935.
In light of his 29-year-old grandson’s accomplishment, Twitter users are returning to records of JFK’s application to Harvard, which included an incredibly lackluster high school transcript, a letter from his Harvard alum father, and a short essay from JFK himself.
The essay, which was handwritten, explained that JFK wanted to go to Harvard because ‘it is not just another college’ — and he dreamed of being a ‘Harvard man’ just like his dad.
A short essay that President John F. Kennedy wrote as part of his Harvard University application is earning attention on Twitter
The handwritten paragraph was penned in response to the application question: ‘Why do you wish to come to Harvard?”
JFK wrote that he wanted to attend Harvard because it was a good school and his father went there – and he, too, wanted to be a ‘Harvard man’
Digital copies of Kennedy’s application materials have been made available by the The Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum.
Upon graduating from the wealthy Connecticut private school Choate in 1935, Kennedy initially intended to follow in his brother Joe’s footsteps and attend the London School of Economics.
But he returned to the US in ill health due to his struggles with Addison’s disease. He then enrolled closer to home at Princeton University, but withdrew again after only two months due to his health.
Finally, he ended up at Harvard — and appears to have had a particularly easy time getting in despite a less-than-impressive academic record.
Included in his application was a high school transcript, which showed mostly C, D, and F grades. He performed best in English, earning Cs, but flunked several years of French, freshman year Latin.
Twitter users are mocking the quality of the writing as well as the seemingly entitlement of his reasoning
Earning particular attention this week is a short paragraph, handwritten on the bottom half of an application page in response to the question, ‘Why do you wish to come to Harvard?’
In parentheses, the application adds: ‘The Committee will expect a careful answer to this question.’
JFK, who grew up with wealth in in Brookline, Massachusetts and Riverdale, New York, wrote that he wanted to attend Harvard because it was a good school and his father went there.
‘The reasons that I have for wishing to go to Harvard are several,’ he began.
‘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.
Several commenters pointed out that Harvard admissions looked different at the time, and were mostly focused on protecting and promoting privilege among the wealthy
‘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,’ he concluded.
The letter prompted quite a bit of coverage when it was first made available in 2013, and it’s now being widely shared one again — with mostly unfavorable reactions.
‘All he said was ‘Daddy went here and I really really wanna go here cause you know daddy went here and I wanna be a harvard man just like daddy,”‘ wrote one Twitter user.
Another summed up his letter: ‘Harvard is a whole vibe. And I’m tryna catch the wave. Lemme in.’
Yet another translated, ‘Reasons you should let me into Harvard: 1. I want to 2. I’ve wanted to for a long time 3. Whose name is going on the new library again? 4. You’re so special 5. I don’t know if you know this, but I want to.’
Several commenters pointed out that Harvard admissions looked different at the time, and were mostly focused on protecting and promoting privilege among the wealthy.
Kennedy had briefly attended Princeton but left due to illness. His application to Harvard included a less-than-stellar high school transcript
The transcript showed mostly C, D, and F grades. He performed best in English, earning Cs, but flunked several years of French, freshman year Latin
These days, most students accepted to Harvard have not only earned straight-As but have a slew of extracurricular activities and other impressive accomplishments to boast
Explained one: ‘40% of Harvard students are legacy admissions and we don’t talk about that enough. JFK’s essay was garbage regardless of the time period.’
‘I did a research project once where I studied at Ivy league entrance essays from the 20s-50s and all of them — literally ALL of them — were like they were written by 5 year olds,’ said another.
‘To be fair, you can’t fit all of that on the memo part of a check,’ snipped a third, while a fourth said: ‘Wish I had the money to write this poorly.’
Though JFK’s essay has raised eyebrows, his entire application is a fascinating illustration of how privilege won out in Harvard admissions at the time.
These days, most students accepted to Harvard have not only earned straight-As but have a slew of extracurricular activities and other impressive accomplishments to boast.
But JFK’s high school transcripts show not a single A — and just a single B- (an 81 average) in sophomore year English. His other English averages were 76 (freshman year), 69 (junior year), and 71 (senior year).
Kennedy also got some help from his father, a Harvard alumnus, who wrote a letter to the dean of freshman arguing for his admittance
Joe Kennedy’s letter admitted his son was ‘careless’ and ‘lacks application’ when he is uninterested, but he also said his son had a ‘brilliant mind’
He earned a 62 and a 69 in freshman and sophomore year latin, respectively, and averages of 62, 73, 67 and 65 during his four years of French.
He averaged 65 in elementary algebra, a 71 in intermediate algebra, and and 73 in plane geometry.
He also earned a 77 in physics, a 75 in ancient history, and a 74 in English history.
Out of 110 students, he finished just 65th in his class — yet he was still voted by his fellow students as Most Likely to Succeed.
Among his application documents were also several letters of character reference — including one from his father, Joseph Kennedy, to Delmar Leighton, dean of freshmen.
‘Jack has a very brilliant mind for the things in which he is interested, but is careless and lacks application in those in which he is not interested. This is, of course, a bad fault,’ the Kennedy patriarch wrote in an effort to sway admissions in his son’s favor.
The application also required character references, including this one from a family friend who wrote of JFK’s ‘vigor and sportsmanship’
Kennedy would go on to graduate from Harvard in the class of 1939
‘However, he is quite ambitious to try and do the work in three years,’ he went on, indicating that JFK intended to do four years of work in just three.
‘I know how the authorities feel about this and I have my own opinion, but it is a gesture that pleases me very much because it seems to be the beginning of an awakening ambition.’
Harvard’s application also requested the names and addresses of three references whom they could contact for more information.
After contacting Kennedy family friend Edward E. Moore, he sent ‘a statement in regard to the character’ of JFK.
‘I have known John all his life and have known his family for many years so that I have had the opportunity of seeing him develop at close hand,’ the letter read.
‘He has always enjoyed good health and has entered into sports with a great deal of vigor and sportsmanship. In this field, as well as in others, he has always shown an appreciation of a sense of fair play and honesty. In this I cannot speak too highly of him.
The Harvard application also asked to supply a photo and to list ‘what sports or games do you especially like,’ for which Kennedy listed football and crew (seen at bottom)
There was also a signed ‘Principal’s Report on Applicant’ from his high school principal, who was asked to assert that ‘I regard this candidate as a young man of good moral character’
‘In his work and in his life at home, he is reliable and dependable. Being one of a family of nine, he has had to give and take which has developed in a large way, the character which I have no hesitation of recommending,’ he wrote.
The Harvard application also asked to supply a photo and to list ‘what sports or games do you especially like,’ for which Kennedy listed football and crew.
There was also a signed ‘Principal’s Report on Applicant’ from his high school principal, who was asked to assert that ‘I regard this candidate as a young man of good moral character.’
Over 80 years later, JFK’s grandson may have benefited from his legacy upon applying to Harvard Law, but he no doubt had a more impressive application to back himself up.
And getting through Harvard’s joint JD-MBA program was likely quite a challenge. In his first months there in 2017, Jack admitted to Boston.com that he was quite busy at the school.
‘I don’t have a life, but that’s what I signed up for,’ he said. ‘It’s cool, you just get to learn all day. Sometimes it’s tough, but it’s been a fun experience.
JFK’s grandson, Jack Schlossberg, recently graduated from both Harvard Law and Harvard Business School
The 29-year-old, who has been studying for dual graduate degrees at the Ivy League School, celebrated his graduation on Instagram this weekend
‘Harvard Law School is great. I’m lucky to be here. It’s a really difficult, intense experience. But I know so much more than I did the day before I got to law school, so that’s a cool feeling,’ he added.
Jack also admitted at the time that his favorite restaurants happened to be on JFK Street, which was ‘humbling.’
‘There’s no pretending that it’s not here when I’m at Harvard. The first few days it felt a little weird, but now I don’t think about it so much,’ he said.
At the time, Jack — who has two sisters, Rose, 33, and Tatiana, 31 — admitted he wasn’t sure what he wanted to do with his career.
‘I’m kind of hedging my bets,’ he said. ‘I’m not sure what I want to do — business, law, something else.
‘I came into law school thinking I really wanted to practice environmental law, and so far my favorite class is in property, which is something I never would have expected. Come three years from now, my interests could be completely different. I’ll always be interested in climate issues, but my idea of what I want to do will probably change.’
Jack had tried his hand at several jobs over the years, and in 2017 spoke at the John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Awards
Jack, pictured with his mother at the 2017 Met Gala, has said he is inspired by his family’s legacy of public service
This weekend, he celebrated his graduation on Instagram, sharing a photo of himself holding Harvard-themed cupcakes and wearing a T-shirt with the letters ‘Jdmbalfg,’ which he also wrote in the caption.
Jdmbalfg appears to reference his two degrees — a JD for law and an MBA for business — plus ‘lfg,’ a slang acronym for ‘let’s f***ing go.’
Prior to obtaining his graduate degrees, he had attended the Collegiate School on Manhattan’s Upper West Side and Yale University, where he majored in history with a concentration in Japanese history.
At Yale, he wrote for the Yale Daily News and The Yale Herald and spent a summer removing toxic waste in Massachusetts before graduating in 2015.
Between undergrad and grad school, he spent time working for the U.S. Department of State. He also worked for a Japanese brewing, distilling, and beverage company called Suntory Holdings Limited, and a Japanese internet and e-commerce company called Rakuten, Inc.
He also had a one-episode role in the season eight finale of Blue Bloods in 2018, when he was 25.
He spoke with his mother at the 2020 Democratic National Convention in support of President Biden
A jack-of-all trades, Jack has been involved with other work over the years, including his helping with his family’s Profile in Courage Awards, working as a Senate page and intern, and working for former Secretary of State John Kerry.
He has also written for The Washington Post, The New York Times, Time, and New York magazine’s The Cut.
He’s been involved in politics as well, and in 2016 wrote for Politico about remarks that Senator Ted Cruz made about his grandfather under the title ‘Ted Cruz Is No Jack Kennedy.’
‘As Kennedy’s grandson, and as a student of his life, legacy and administration, I find this notion — and the suggestion that Ted Cruz is somehow taking up his mantle — absurd,’ he wrote.
‘Were my grandfather alive today, he’d be excited about how far we have come as a nation since 1963, he would feel a sense of urgency about the challenges that lie ahead and he most certainly would not be a Republican.’
In 2020, he even spoke at the 2020 Democratic National Convention in support of President Biden.
‘Times have changed, but the themes of my grandfather’s speech — courage, unity, and patriotism — are as important today as they were in 1960,’ he said. ‘Once again, we need a leader who believes America’s best days are yet to come. We need Joe Biden.’