President Barack Obama is hailed by his supporters and the mainstream media as one of the most brilliant men ever to hold the office. However, his refusal to release his academic records, his admitted deficiencies as a student, and his frequent factual errors–even in his chosen field of constitutional law–have cast doubt upon his supposed genius. Now, Breitbart News has established that Obama’s grades and Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) scores may have been even lower than those of his supposedly less capable predecessor, George W. Bush.
Breitbart News has learned that the transfer class that entered Columbia College in the fall of 1981 with Obama was one of the worst in recent memory, according to Columbia officials at the time.
A Nov. 18, 1981 article in the Columbia Spectator, “Tight Housing Discourages Transfer Applications to CC,” written by student Jeremy Feldman and quoting admissions officials, reported: “On paper at least, the quality of the students accepted [as transfers] has declined along with the number of applicants, the officials say.”
Feldman, quoting Robert Boatti, Assistant Dean of Admissions, as well as the late college Dean Arnold Collery, continued:
Boatti also attributed the drop in transfer application to the College’s policy of requiring transfer students to take courses in its core curriculum and to the limited availability of financial aid for them.
He added a “majority” of the transfers come here from college in the New York area. Many come from community colleges, rather than the nation’s top schools.
“Even the unhappiest people don’t transfer from Harvard,” Boatti said.
In grades and other indicators of academic performance, the crop of transfer applicants “doesn’t stand out the way they did before,” [Dean Arnold] Collery said.
Boatti confirmed Collery’s observations.
Among accepted transfer students, the average combined math and verbal score on the Scholastic Aptitude Test is a 1,100 and their grade-point average at their former schools is about 3.0, Boatti said.
The freshman class at the College had a combined SAT score more than 100 points higher.
Only 450 students applied to transfer to Columbia in 1981 and sixty-seven were admitted, according to the Columbia Spectator, compared to 650 applicants just four years before.
If Obama’s SAT scores were near the average of the transfer students entering Columbia in the fall of 1981, he would have scored significantly lower than George W. Bush, whose combined math and verbal scores were 1206 out of a possible 1600 points (as revealed by the New Yorker in 1999).
In his autobiography, Dreams from My Father, Barack Obama describes himself as an unfocused high school student whose mother scolded him for being a “loafer” (142). He describes his attitude toward his studies at Occidental as “indifferent” (146), calling himself a “bum” who abused drugs (138) and who was notorious for partying all weekend (165).
That has raised questions about how Obama earned a place at Columbia in 1981, paving the way to Harvard Law and beyond. Indeed, like much else in his biography, Obama seems to have fictionalized the process through which he gained admission to Columbia. Obama writes in Dreams: “[W]hen I heard about a transfer program that Occidental had arranged with Columbia University, I’d been quick to apply”(172).
However, there is no record of such a “transfer program” existing at either Columbia or Occidental.
Breitbart News spoke to an official source at the Registrar’s Office of Occidental College, who confirmed that there has only been one transfer program between Occidental and Columbia–one that fed students into Columbia’s School of Engineering and Applied Science (known today as the Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science).
Obama, who was not an engineering student, would not have been eligible for that program.
The official also pulled Occidental’s records between 1970 and 1990, and found no transfer program with any other Columbia University program.
In addition, Breitbart News spoke with Phil Boerner, who transferred to Columbia from Occidental in 1981, and graduated from Columbia in 1984. He was Obama’s roommate in New York, and is one of the few Columbia students to recall Obama. Boerner, speaking by telephone, denied there was a “transfer program.”
“You can transfer colleges at any time,” Boerner said, emphasizing that he was not speaking for Obama. “There was no formal arrangement between the two schools.”
It is possible that Obama benefited from Columbia’s affirmative action program, which the university had recently defended in an amicus curie brief to the Supreme Court in the celebrated Bakke case (1977). Columbia joined several other elite universities in defending the use of race as a factor in college admissions. The brief had argued that “minority status must be considered independently of economic or cultural deprivation.”
Given that 1981 turned out to be a relatively easy year to enter Columbia as a transfer student, and the fact that Obama was applying as a transfer student from a private college in California, as well as a minority student, Obama likely would have stood out among applicants, regardless of his scores and grades.
Yet because Obama has never released his academic records, it is impossible to know whether he would have qualified for admission as a first-year student or in a typical transfer year.
The only way to know is for Obama to release his records, transcripts and test scores–from Occidental, Columbia, and Harvard. Why Obama has not done so remains a mystery–unless he has something else to hide.
Joel B. Pollak contributed to this report.