The nine best colleges for aspiring presidents of the United States of America

As of 2012, the United States has seen 44 presidencies (Grover Cleveland served two non-consecutive terms). Of the 43 presidents who have served the republic, some have been great leaders. A few have been abysmal failures. (We’re looking at you, James Buchanan.) Most have fallen somewhere on a broad continuum of mediocrity.

Still, it’s a plum job that looks nice on any resume. The pay is relatively low and the work is demanding. However, the perks include significant free travel, free food and free housing (albeit in a large office building).

If you are thinking about becoming the president of the United States, it definitely pays to attend the right schools and make the right connections. These nine schools are your best bets. All told, 20 of the 43 American presidents – almost 47% — have attended one or more of them.

There’s a slideshow below. If you like esoteric history and trivia, though, keep reading.

1. Harvard University. Harvard has produced seven presidents of the United States of America, which is just over 16% of the total. John Adams and his son John Quincy Adams each received two degrees from Harvard. After an embarrassing dry spell of nearly a century, Harvard finally produced another president when all-around bull moose Theodore Roosevelt graduated magna cum laude in 1880. Teddy’s fifth cousin, Franklin D. Roosevelt, got his sheepskin from Harvard in 1903, majoring in history. John F. Kennedy left the school in 1960 with a diploma in international affairs. George W. Bush received his B.A. from hated rival Yale but went on to earn an MBA from Harvard Business School. Most recently, Barack Obama earned a law degree from Harvard Law School.

2. Yale University. Five American presidents — 11% in all — were Yalies. In 1878, William Howard Taft graduated second in his class at Yale. His nickname was “Old Bill” and he was an intramural wrestling champion. Gerald Ford graduated from Yale Law School in 1941. George H. W. Bush received an economics degree from Yale in 1948. He was the captain of the Bulldog baseball team. Bill Clinton received his J.D. from Yale in 1973. (He also met fellow student Hillary Rodham there.) George W. Bush, like his father, also attended Yale. He received a B.A. in history in 1968.

3. United States Military Academy. Occasionally, we Americans like to elect highly successful generals to serve as our presidents. Such was the case with Ulysses S. Grant and Dwight D. Eisenhower, both graduates of West Point. As a cadet, Grant (Class of 1843) was an expert equestrian and a bit of an artist. Eisenhower (Class of 1915) played running back and linebacker for the football team. Jefferson Davis, president of the ill-fated Confederate States of America during the Civil War, is also an alumnus. He graduated in 1828.

4. Princeton University. James Madison graduated from Princeton (then called The College of New Jersey) as a regular Renaissance Man. He founded what is now the oldest debate union in the country while he was there. Woodrow Wilson is another graduate (Class of 1879). Wilson also served on Princeton’s faculty and as the president. Presidential footnote Ralph Nader (Class of 1955) is also a Princeton grad.

Click an image below for larger version.
  • 9. Serious presidential aspirants may want to avoid Ross Perot’s alma mater, the United States Naval Academy. Photo -
  • 8. Tiny Eureka College’s most famous alumnus is Ronald Reagan. Photo - public domain
  • 6. A few presidents attended Columbia University, including Barack Obama. His grades there remain ultra-super-secret classified information. Photo - WikiCU, Creative Commons/Pacman
  • 5. The College of William & Mary was a heavy hitter in president production back in the day. Alumni include Thomas Jefferson. Photo - Creative Commons/Scott Catron
  • 4. Princeton University gave us James Madison (yay!) and Woodrow Wilson (boo!). Photo - public domain
  • 3. When we Americans like to elect highly successful generals to serve us as presidents, we typically turn to West Point grads such as Dwight Eisenhower. Photo - Associated Press/Eisenhower Library
  • 2. Yale University can claim five American presidents, including three of the last four. Photo -
  • 1. Harvard University has produced just over 16% of all American presidents including John F. Kennedy. On Tuesday, if Mitt Romney wins, that percentage will rise to over 18%. Photo - John F. Kennedy Presidential Library
  • Mt. Rushmore. Photo - public domain