Diploma for the head of the White House: where and what kind of education did the US presidents receive
Does the President of the United States Require a Higher Education Degree? What universities did the owners of the White House most often graduate from? And how have presidents influenced the US education system? From the authors of the Presidential Stories podcast to "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 came to the United States about 20 years ago, he was amazed that a certificate was required for a huge number of jobs, for which it was completely unnecessary in Russia. In Russia there is a huge number of amateur amateurs who successfully work in certain areas, but have never received specialized education in this direction. In America, you simply 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, the parents will faint. In America, if you don't want to get a higher education, you will go to a profession that does not require it. Of course, it all depends on each specific family. According to statistics, now a third of the US population has a higher education: this is a record high result, that is, the attitude towards higher education has begun to change. This 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 correctly acquire and process information, to keep pace 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 a person's task is to understand where he is going. Parents of children in the United States who are about to pursue higher education can study numerous rankings showing how effectively spending money on studying at a particular university. Your education is worth 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 education are somewhat different. In Russia, traditionally, a person graduated from the institute and worked in his specialty until the end of his days. Sometimes something changed, the level of education rose, some thesis was defended ... In the USA, people change their chosen profession many times, change universities, go to courses, graduate, do not finish them - and this is normal. This is important to understand when talking about the training received by US presidents.
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 sciences, many really reached great heights. It is sometimes difficult to explain American realities here. For example, until the end of the 19th century, the only US higher educational institutions that provided engineering education were military schools. People who studied in them became officers, but they were incredibly in demand in America as excellent engineers, topographers, organizers of large industries. The United States Military Academy, also known as West Point, has two presidents, Grant and Dwight D. Eisenhower, both successful engineers with a formal 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 in California. Nobody knows this name. The university gained fame only because this future president of the United States studied there. Why did he go there? He didn't want to go far from his family. He had an offer to study at Harvard, but his brother was sick with tuberculosis, and Nixon stayed at home to help the family. Then he continued his education and graduated from Duke University with very good grades. He was even nicknamed "iron ass": he got 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.
Still, in America there are a number of universities that are associated with the names of presidents. Presidents either graduated from these universities, or studied at them for at least some time. In the first place is Harvard University - this is probably the oldest higher educational institution in the United States and the most famous, where 8 US presidents studied. On 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, where 3 presidents studied. 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 did not have any education - for example, the first president of the United States, George Washington, although he was an educated person through self-education. Nobody could say that he lacks some knowledge or skills that higher education gives. But then the situation was different, only a few received higher education. In most cases, the presidents did finish something in one way or another. Even if these were institutions of insignificant quality, 40 presidents had education.
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Presidents very rarely influenced higher education in the country, but they did sometimes. This topic acquired 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 entire country. American education throughout its history, as well as today, happily exists on the basis of private educational institutions. You pay money, they teach you 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 assess the quality of education, but there is no general curriculum at the level of all schools or all universities. Each university, in cooperation with other universities and professional associations, develops its own programs. Therefore, the presidents could do little in this direction.
It is worth saying that, firstly, state educational institutions are only military areas, such as West Point, Annapolis, the US Air Force Academy, the US Coast Guard Academy. Second, there are state and district universities, which are supported primarily by the taxes and budgets of these states and counties. They are also paid and allow natives of these regions to get higher education for less money. As a rule, these are very good universities. All other universities are private. They survive in the harshest 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 start expanding opportunities for people with disabilities - for children who had problems attending regular school. Then this list was expanded: children with special needs received the same rights as other children. School programs began to be adapted for them. It was a long, complicated, costly and painful process. But now the American school in this regard is a great place, which is confirmed by the author of the podcast, the father of two children, from personal experience.
American universities are a preserve of liberal ideas, and Trump is a conservative, so he is not very popular. His appointment as head of the education department, Betsy Devos, has been criticized all the time. She believes that private schools perform better than public schools, which are paid from the federal, state and district budgets. And so it should be that public schools that are performing poorly receive less money, and send money to private schools, motivating parents to transfer their children there. This is met with fierce resistance from the public education community. They believe that public education should be available and therefore it is necessary just to improve public schools, and not to withdraw 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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