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JFK’s Harvard application (with essay) and other school records

The Kennedy smile shined frequently in public appearances, such as this news conference at the State Department on Feb. 7, 1962. In private, however, Kennedy could scowl, brood and swear. Associated Press / Associated Press President John F. Kennedy in 1962 
(Associated Press photo)

The 50th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy this Friday has prompted an avalanche of coverage about his life and death, including today’s visit to his graveside at Arlington Cemetery by President Obama and former President Bill Clinton. Here’s a look at something that hasn’t got much attention: his education.

The John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum has digitized a number of records relating to his educational experience, and here are some of those documents, including his Harvard University application — in his own handwriting — as well as his grades from The Choate School and a letter from his father, Joseph Kennedy, to the Harvard admissions dean explaining that JFK was “brilliant” but “careless” and “lacks ambition” for things that didn’t interest him.

JFK went to these schools: Through fourth grade, the Edward Devotion School, Noble and and Greenough Lower School and the Dexter School in Massachusetts; Riverdale Country Day School in New York from fifth through seventh grades;  the Canterbury School in Connecticut for eighth grade; The Choate School in Connecticut for high school. He attended Princeton University for no more than two months in 1935, and later enrolled and graduated from Harvard.

Take a look at his grades and his university application. You may be surprised.









PHOTOS:  JFK, the man behind Camelot – A selection of the best images from his life



Valerie Strauss covers education and runs The Answer Sheet blog.



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Valerie Strauss · November 20, 2013

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