The Philly Area Schools That Rejected Barack Obama’s and Tom Hanks’ College Applications

Or, what keeps an admissions officer awake late at night …

Barack Obama in his official Senate portrait. Tom Hanks, Photo | Alan Light, CC BY 2.0.

Barack Obama in his official Senate portrait. Tom Hanks, Photo | Alan Light, CC BY 2.0.

I was reading something the other day — I can’t remember what, because the Internet has made reading 80,000 things a day way too easy — in which the author commented snidely on adults who remember their SAT scores. I flushed with embarrassment, because, naturally, I remember my SAT scores. (They were pretty good.) In my experience, most people remember their SAT scores, just like they remember the colleges that rejected their applications (okay for you, Princeton; who’d want to go to Ted Cruz’s college, anyway?) for the rest of their lives.

That may be why I, um, clicked through recently to a slideshow that revealed what colleges rejected some Very Famous People, and thereby learned that I’m in great company. Tina Fey was also rejected by Princeton. (OMG, she and Lyin’ Ted would have been in the same class!John Kerry, Tom Brokow, Matt Groening and Meredith Vieira were rejected by Harvard. (Vieira reports she was “devastated.”) Katie Couric was turned down by Smith. (Who gets turned down by Smith?) But the big news was that Tom Hanks was rejected by our very own Villanova. (Wonder who he was cheering for in the NCAA finals?) And the even bigger news was that Barack Obama was rejected by … (you wish, Penn) Swarthmore.

That’s right! Apparently the President revealed this stunning news at a town hall at Strath Haven High during the 2008 primary. Confronted in a reception line by a Swarthmore student who asked about the rejection, Obama laughed, confirmed it, and told the kid, “It really broke my heart, actually.” The admissions office later confirmed the information. Obama went to Occidental instead, then transferred to Columbia. Guess we can be pretty sure where the 44th U.S. president’s official library won’t be.

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