The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Yes, Donald Trump really went to an Ivy League school

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump pauses as he speaks before a crowd of 3,500 Saturday, July 11, 2015, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

Donald Trump likes to talk about how smart he is.

So where did this really smart person go to school?

The Trump campaign did not respond to a query about the candidate’s education.

When he was young, he went  to the private Kew-Forest School in Forest Hills, Queens, where his father, Frederick, a very wealthy real estate developer, was on the governing board. Behavior problems led to Donald’s exit from the school, at which point he was sent to the New York Military Academy at age 13 by his parents, who, according to, hoped “the discipline of the school would channel his energy in a positive manner.”

He did well there, and then went to Fordham University, a Jesuit school in the Bronx, for two years, before transferring to the University of Pennsylvania and studied economics for two years, graduating in 1968 with a bachelor’s degree. He took undergraduate classes at Penn’s famed Wharton School of Business.  Though he was not enrolled in Wharton’s prestigious MBA program, the Spring 2007 Wharton Alumni Magazine featured Trump, with this headline, “The Best Brand Name in Real Estate.”

The University of Pennsylvania is one of the eight private colleges and universities in the vaunted Ivy League, known for accepting unusually smart students, great test takers, legacies, and the sons and daughters of famous and/or very wealthy people.

How did Trump get into the University of Pennsylvania?

A 2011 Salon magazine article refers to a 2001 book called “The Trumps: Three Generations That Built an Empire,” by Gwenda Blair. It says that Trump’s grades at Fordham, a Jesuit school in New York, had been “respectable,” and that he was admitted to Penn after an interview with a “friendly” Wharton admissions officer who was an old classmate of Trump’s older brother.

The article also points out that Trump has happily allowed the media to report that he graduated first in his class from Wharton, including in New York Times stories in 1973 and 1976 about him. But the story goes on to say:

Writing in the New York Times magazine in 1984, William Geist reported that “the commencement program from 1968 does not list him as graduating with honors of any kind,” even though “just about every profile ever written about Mr. Trump states that he graduated first in his class at Wharton in 1968.” …  In 1988, New York magazine reported that the idea that Trump had graduated first in his class was a “myth.” [emphasis by Salon]

The Wharton Alumni Magazine write-up says in part:

Trump took a successful real estate development business started by his father, Fred, and turned it into a multi-faceted company. Along the way, Trump’s style has produced doubters, but no one could deny his ability to brand his products, and to rise, phoenix-like, from everything from corporate travails to satire.

Satire is an understatement. I Googled the the words “buffoon” and “Trump” and got about 137,000 results in 0.34 seconds.

 (Fixing name of Wharton School at UPenn.)