Diploma for the head of the White House: where and what kind of education did the US presidents receive
Does the US President require a college degree? What universities most often graduated from the White House? And how did presidents influence the US education system? The authors of the Presidential Stories podcast tell "Voices of America".
In America there is no such cult of higher education as in Russia, but now this situation is changing - first of all, because a diploma is required almost everywhere. When the author of the podcast arrived in the United States about 20 years ago, he was amazed that a certificate was required for a huge number of works, for which it was absolutely not necessary in Russia. In Russia, a huge number of amateur amateurs who successfully work in certain areas, but have never received a specialized education in this direction. In America, you just won’t get this job - they won’t give you it.
The value of education is that it allows, first of all, to get a good job and, therefore, to earn more money and feel better in this life.
Perhaps in Russia, parents are more sensitive to this: if a child says that he does not want to get a higher education, his parents will faint. In America, if you do not want to get a higher education, you will go into a profession that does not require it. Of course, it all depends on each individual family. According to statistics, now a third of the US population has higher education: this is a record high result, that is, the attitude towards higher education has begun to change. It began around the beginning of the 80s and coincided with the last round of the technological revolution, with computers, with the advent of electronic technologies that were completely unthinkable before. It turned out that the most talented person who would have easily succeeded in the 60s is out of work in the 80s, because he simply does not know how to handle these new opportunities, with rapid progress.
And education, even if it does not provide stable knowledge, teaches us to acquire and process information correctly, to keep up with humanity. In general, this is the main value of education, but it is worth remembering that there are different educational institutions, including not very good ones, and the person’s task is to understand where he is going. Parents of children in the United States who are going to graduate can study numerous ratings showing how efficiently they spend money on studying at a particular university. Your education costs so many thousands, and after graduation, your chances of getting a good job are so many percent, and your salary will be about this level. This information is open.
American education and Russian are somewhat different. In Russia, a person traditionally graduated from college and worked in his specialty until the end of his days. Sometimes something changed, the level of education increased, some dissertation was defended ... In the USA, people repeatedly change their chosen profession, change universities, go to courses, graduate, do not finish them - and this is normal. This is important to understand when talking about the training that the US presidents received.
There is one American president who tried to study abroad: John Kennedy entered the London School of Economics, but he had health problems and returned to America. Formally, he studied to be an economist, but he really did not receive any certificate of this, any diploma, and he was never an economist either. Nevertheless, he studied this profession for some time.
Many presidents were engaged in engineering, many really reached great heights. It is sometimes difficult to explain American realities. For example, until the end of the 19th century, the only higher educational institutions in the United States that provided engineering education were military schools. The people who trained in them became officers, but were incredibly popular in America as excellent engineers, topographers, and organizers of large-scale enterprises. The United States Military Academy, also known as West Point, was graduated by two presidents - Grant and Dwight Eisenhower, both of whom were successful engineers, formally having a military education.
There were other options when the presidents began to study at one higher educational institution, continued in the second, finished in the third. This was also due to various reasons. For example, President Gerald Ford attended a very good university in Michigan. But there is a certain subtlety: he was the captain of a football team, and as any American knows, outstanding athletes get concessions on exams. The main thing is that the team bring glory and laurels to their university. Ford played football very well, and he was even offered to pursue a career in professional sports, but that is why it is difficult to evaluate his academic achievements.
Richard Nixon graduated from Whittier College, California. No one knows this name. The university gained fame only because this future president of the United States studied there. Why did he go there? He did not want to leave far from his family. He had an offer to study at Harvard, but his brother was ill with tuberculosis, and Nixon stayed home to help his family. Then he continued his education and graduated from Duke University with very good grades. He was even called the “iron ass”: he received good grades because he tried, crammed and sat over books.
Carter graduated from the Institute of Technology, and then the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, and, thanks to his technical knowledge, became one of the first officers who served in the nuclear submarine fleet. Then he went into farming and began to grow peanuts.
But still in America there are a number of universities that are associated with the names of the presidents. The presidents either graduated from these universities or studied at least for some time. Harvard University is in the first place - probably this is the oldest institution of higher education in the United States and the most famous, 8 US presidents studied there. At the second, Yale University, where 5 presidents studied. In third place is the little-known college of William and Mary in Virginia, one of the oldest American universities, 3 presidents studied in it. In fourth place is the well-known Princeton - 2 presidents. In fifth place is West Point.
All the rest graduated from various educational institutions in one capacity or another, some presidents did not receive higher education at all, and some studied so poorly that they tried not to advertise this fact. For example, President Trump graduated from the University of Pennsylvania business school, but is hiding his grades. He has a diploma, he graduated from high school. But the University of Pennsylvania is also not spreading about how Trump studied. The president has never spoken at this university. Any university tries to attract its outstanding graduates to important events and presents them with some honorary doctorates or diplomas. For some reason, the University of Pennsylvania has never invited Donald Trump, and even on excursions around the university this topic does not come up.
Trump was not the first president to study poorly. However, there were presidents who studied, on the contrary, well. You can return to John F. Kennedy, who became interested in history and political science. He wrote a thesis, which was then published in the form of a book, which became a bestseller.
Several presidents formally had no education - for example, the first US president George Washington, although he was an educated person through self-education. No one could say that he lacks any knowledge or skills that higher education provides. But the situation then was different, units received higher education. In most cases, the presidents did end up somehow. Even if these were higher educational institutions of negligible quality, 40 presidents had education.
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Presidents very rarely influenced higher education in the country, but sometimes they did. This topic gained political significance in the 80s, then it became clear that education is not only the key to personal success, but also to the success of the economy of the whole country. American education throughout its history, as it is today, has safely existed on the basis of private educational institutions. You pay money, you are taught for it, you get a diploma and go into the world. There are no general educational programs in the country. There are some nationwide tests that allow you to assess the quality of education, but there is no general curriculum at the level of all schools or all universities. Each university in collaboration with other universities and professional associations develops its own programs. Therefore, the presidents could do quite a bit in this direction.
It is worth saying that, firstly, state educational institutions are only military directions, such as West Point, Annapolis, the US Air Force Academy, and the US Coast Guard Academy. Secondly, there are universities in the states and individual districts, which are mainly supported by taxes and budgets of these states and districts. They are also paid and allow higher education to natives of these regions for less money. As a rule, these are very good universities. All other universities are private. They survive in the most severe conditions because they need to attract students who will bring them money.
The presidents organized soft loan programs for students who were supposed to pay for education. It also began in the 80s under President Carter and President Reagan, who invested a lot of effort so that these loans were available to as many people as possible. Many presidents, including over the past decades, have spent significant political capital and budget money on improving school education. Eisenhower's presidency coincided with the collapse of the racial segregation regime, and he made a politically risky decision when he sent troops from the National Guard to ensure that black children appeared in schools where only white children studied. Under him, laws were passed that allowed members of racial minorities to gain access to education that was previously inaccessible to them.
By and large, all subsequent owners of the White House acted in this direction: expanding opportunities. Lyndon Johnson was the first to expand opportunities for the disabled - for children who had problems attending regular schools. Then this list was expanded: children with special needs received the same rights as other children. School programs began to adapt for them. It was a long, complicated, expensive and very painful process. But now the American school in this regard is a great place, which is confirmed by personal experience of the author of the podcast, the father of two children.
American universities are a reserve of liberal ideas, and Trump is a conservative, so they do not really like him. His appointment as head of the education department at Betsy Devos has been criticized all the time. She believes that private schools work better than public schools, which are paid from the federal budget, the budgets of states and districts. And therefore, it follows that public schools that work poorly receive less money, and send money to private schools, motivating parents to transfer their children there. This runs into the fierce resistance of people involved in public education. They believe that public education should be accessible and therefore it is just necessary to improve public schools, and not to remove students from them.
In addition, under Obama’s presidency, Congress passed a law that allowed students to drop debts for education from some categories of students who graduated from universities many years ago, but for a number of reasons could not pay off colossal debts for their studies. This ran into Betsy Devos' resistance, for which she was criticized by political opponents. But this is a moot point, and it will be possible to evaluate the results of such a policy only in a few years.
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