January 30, 2023

Trump’s Wharton admissions officer just revealed how Trump’s personal connections got him in

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While President Trump loves to boast that his alma mater was “the hardest school to get into, the best school in the world” and that getting accepted to the Wharton School of Finance required “super genius stuff” — but it turns out that wasn’t the case.


As with most things in Donald Trump’s life, it was more of a question of who you know and not what you know.

It turns out that the undergraduate director of admissions at Penn in 1966, James Nolan just so happened to be best friends with Fred Trump Jr., who put in a call to his old buddy asking for him to give an interview to his little brother, Donald Trump.

“He called me and said, ‘You remember my brother Donald?’ Which I didn’t” the now eighty-one-year old Nolan told the Washington Post. Fred told Nolan that “he’s at Fordham and he would like to transfer to Wharton. Will you interview him?’”

Nolan said he’d be happy to. Donald Trump arrived with his father and did the interview, which Nolan doesn’t remember, but he assumes he gave young Donnie a good review.

“It must have been decent enough to support his candidacy…I certainly was not struck by any sense that I’m sitting before a genius. Certainly not a super genius” quipped Nolan.

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On top of that, the Wharton School of Finance was not particularly competitive at the time.

The Washington Post reports:

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“At the time, Nolan said, more than half of applicants to Penn were accepted, and transfer students such as Trump had an even higher acceptance based on their college experience. A Penn official said the acceptance rate for 1966 was not available but noted that the school says on its website that the 1980 rate was ‘slightly greater than 40%.’ Today, by comparison, the admissions rate for the incoming Penn class is 7.4 percent, the school recently announced.”

Not only was his admission to the university greased by his influential family, but it’s also pretty clear that Trump didn’t spend too much time hitting the books in between healing his bone spurs and dodging the Vietclap.

Trump’s name was not honored at graduation commencement, nor was it found on the Dean’s List, meaning he wasn’t one of the top 56 students in his class of 366.

That wouldn’t really matter unless there was a very public history of Trump questioning the academic prowess of people he dislikes, like former President Obama. On top of accusing him of being born in Kenya, Trump smeared Obama in a 2011 interview with the Associated Press as “a terrible student, terrible. How does a bad student go to Columbia and then to Harvard?”

You tell us, Donnie. Or maybe have your family do it, like they did everything else for you your entire life.

Original reporting by Michael Kranish at the Washington Post. 

Colin Taylor

Managing Editor

Colin Taylor is the managing editor of the Washington Press. He graduated from Bennington College with a Bachelor's degree in history and political science. He now focuses on advancing the cause of social justice, equality, and universal health care in America.

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