• 3-minute read
  • 15th February 2016

Hooray, Hooray! It’s Presidents’ Day!

Whether you think of Presidents’ Day as a patriotic celebration of our country’s political leadership, or just a day off from work and/or school, it’s surely a good time to reflect on the educational legacy of President Washington and his successors.

By “educational legacy” here, we don’t mean the policies they introduced while in office or donations made to colleges; we’re interested in what our presidents were like as students.

Harry Truman, College Dropout

Not every president has been a “classic” educational role model, with many not graduating at all. The most recent was Harry Truman, who dropped out of business school after only one semester.

To be fair, he did drop out because of his family’s financial problems rather than a lack of interest in learning. And he did later become president. So he must have been doing something right.

A Very Different Playbook

Would history have differed much had Gerald Ford accepted one of the two offers he received from NFL clubs after graduating from the University of Michigan?

It’s hard to say, but he managed to help the Wolverines to national titles in 1932 and 1933, as well as winning the team’s MVP award in his senior year. Whether his skills as a linebacker were at all useful in office, we can only guess.

Skull and Bones

Yale University’s “Skull and Bones” society is notorious for its secrecy and elitism, inviting only the most powerful students to join. This has so far included three future presidents: William Howard Taft, George H. W. Bush, and George Bush Jr.

Apparently, the initiation ritual for new members involves divulging “intimate personal details, including their full sexual histories.” Sounds fine to us.

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After all, there’s no way giving away sensitive personal information could possibly pose a terrible blackmail risk. If there was, they wouldn’t do it, right? Right?

Go Team President!

On a lighter note, four future presidents have spent their college days cheerleading, including Franklin D. Roosevelt, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush.

Wait, George Bush Jr was a cheerleader and a member of Skull and Bones? When did the man find time to study? Maybe he just didn’t bother.

That’s “Dr. Woodrow,” Thank You

Out of the 43 people who’ve been president, one stands out for his educational achievements: Dr. Woodrow Wilson, PhD.

The only president to have a college doctorate, Wilson earned a PhD in political science from John Hopkins University, producing a dissertation called “Congressional Government: A Study in American Politics.” He later went on to teach at Bryn Mawr College.

So although Woodrow might be better known for his achievements as 28th President of the United States, from now on we’ll think of him first as an academic high-achiever. Happy Presidents’ Day!

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