Donald Trump portrays himself as one of the best students in his graduating class from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business, but he won’t prove it.
Trump told CNN last month it’s “the hardest school to get in,” and “the best school. It’s like super genius stuff.”
“I’m a very smart guy, I went to the best college, I had good marks. I was a very smart guy, good student. All that stuff,” Trump told Bill O’Reilly in 2011.
“I was a really good student at the best school. I’m like a smart guy, OK,” he said on The View in 2011 before saying he wasn’t stupid to ask for Obama’s birth certificate.
Trump says if he weren’t a Republican, he’d get credit for his big brain.
“If I were a liberal Democrat, people would say I'm the super genius of all time,” he said on Meet the Press last month. “The super genius of all time.”
For years, Trump has been saying how much he excelled at school, often while questioning the grades of President Obama.
However, Trump appears to have exaggerated his scholastic prowess. In 1973, the New York Times interviewed Trump and reported he finished first in his class. The claim was then repeated for decades, in everything from Chief Executive Magazine to the Times.
According to an October 1968 article in the University of Pennsylvania archives discovered by The Daily Beast, Trump did not make the Dean’s List of 56 people when he graduated that year.
A staffer at the archives said the record from the school newspaper The Daily Pennsylvanian is the most accurate one available online. To get specific information on grades, the school registrar requires a transcript release form that must be signed by the graduate in question.
Seeing as Trump has asked Obama, who he called a “terrible student,” to release his own transcripts, it’s only fair that Trump release his college transcript. The campaign did not respond to a request for such records though.
The veracity of the story was first questioned in a 1984 New York Times Magazine article, which claimed that “the commencement program from 1968 does not list him as graduating with honors of any kind.” The University of Pennsylvania archives informed me that a copy of the commencement program is only available in physical format there. A 1988 New York magazine article similarly questioned the “myth” that Trump had been first in his class.
Biographer Gwenda Blair, who called his grades “respectable,” in her 2005 biography and suggested that Trump was admitted to Wharton due to a special favor from an admissions officer who knew his brother, told The Daily Beast: “[Trump] saying he was number one and not being on the Dean’s List seems plausible.”
“He always speaks in superlatives,” she added.
Trump may be right that Wharton has created “some of the greatest business minds” in the world, but there were at least 56 minds greater than his.