James Nolan, the Penn admissions officer who interviewed President Donald Trump for admission to Penn in 1966, recalled Trump's application process in a July 8 interview with The Washington Post.
Nolan told the Post his initial decision to interview Trump for admission at Penn was a favor to Fred Trump Jr., the president’s older brother and one of Nolan's closest friends. Nolan added he remembered that Fred Trump Sr., the president’s father, accompanied his son to the interview, seeking to “ingratiate” himself.
“It must have been decent enough to support his candidacy,” Nolan told the Post about the rating he gave Trump after the interview. Nolan added that the final decision to admit Trump depended on Nolan’s boss, who admitted Trump and is no longer living.
Trump has long alluded to his time at Wharton as evidence of his intellect and has called it the “hardest school to get into, the best school in the world" and "super genius stuff," according to the Post. Nolan described admission into Penn as “not very difficult” at the time of Trump’s application, according to the Post.
More than half of Penn’s applicants were accepted at the time Trump applied, with transfer students such as Trump having an even higher acceptance rate, Nolan told the Post. A Penn official told the Post that the 1966 acceptance rate is not available but cited the 1980 acceptance rate as “slightly greater than 40%."
“I certainly was not struck by any sense that [I was] sitting before a genius," Nolan said about his interview with Trump. "Certainly not a super genius."
Trump has never released his transcripts from his time at Wharton and Nolan’s account is one of the first of its kind. Trump mentioned his Wharton education 93 times in public speeches between May 2015 and January 2018.
The Post added that while no donation was made to the University in the Trump name prior to Trump's admission, many donations at the time were made anonymously. It cannot be conclusively said whether or not a donation by the Trump family played a role in his admission, according to the Post.