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Why Obama’s Transcripts Matter

One thing the MSM is not reporting on the entire Obama-transcript issue is the particular nature of an education at Columbia College that makes transferring into the college after two years of college someplace else so incredibly difficult — and rare.

Columbia’s “thing” is they have what they call the “core curriculum” — a set of classes that every student must take, usually in a student’s first two years. Now, because Columbia has so many required courses compared with other colleges or universities, the school actually discourages transfer students who, like the president, already have two years of college behind them:

To be eligible to enroll as a transfer student at Columbia, you must have completed, or be registered for, 24 points of credit (the equivalent of one year of full-time study) at another institution. Candidates with more than four semesters of college coursework elsewhere are not encouraged to apply. Columbia’s academic requirements and institutional policies make completion of all graduation requirements in a reasonable and timely fashion unlikely. If your college or university is not in the U.S. or Canada, please consult the International Transfer Students Web page.

It’s not impossible to transfer into Columbia from another school and graduate in two years, but it’s difficult. This fact alone makes what the president did an anomaly. And when something’s out of the ordinary, like this is, questions follow. And as a Columbia grad, I am pretty curious to see how he did in the same classes I took.

One item of note, Columbia — then and now — requires two years of a foreign language. We’ve heard from the president many times how he wishes he spoke a second language. What we haven’t heard is him saying, “Boy, I wish I’d paid more attention to those silly Spanish classes while I was at Columbia.” The president was supposed to have taken a foreign language, but he acts like he never did. It’s not out of the ordinary to forget what was learned in college, but maybe he could let us know what language he took while at Columbia but then forgot? Is that too much to ask?

Now, yesterday Eugene Robinson gave me permission to make assumptions on what the president might be hiding by not releasing his transcripts, and there are a variety of theories out there among Columbia alumni on it — that he lied on his application to gain admittance as a foreign student, that he’s hiding the fact that most of the classes he took might — just might — lean slightly left.

Well, if you take at look at my transcript you’ll find classes like the “Economics of Socialism” and “The Economics of Centrally Planned Economies.” Am I a closet socialist, or did I take classes that fit best in my schedule? Again, after almost two years spent on required courses at Columbia, one sometimes has to pick classes by time as much as by content.

So, knowing what I know about how difficult it would be for the president to take all of his core classes and then get enough other classes in to get his degree, I highly doubt that he’s shielding anything. There would be a limited amount of classes open to him that would allow him to do all of this in two years.

This leaves the more sinister theories that he gamed the system somehow to get in. And until he tell us, in the words of DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz, “we don’t know” what he’s hiding. Also of note, Schultz questioned Romney as an American. Although it’s yesterday’s Sununu comment that gets the most ink, of course. Schultz:

It would be nice if we had a candidate for president who was committed to America. Mitt Romney is committed to making sure that either he makes the most money as humanly possible, or his investors do.

I keep reading that the president needs to release his thesis. Columbia doesn’t require one. For some majors, Columbia requires a seminar class in which you write a paper and present it to the class. But there is no permanent record of these papers. If there were a record, Rich would surely be amazed at my knowledge of Soviet oil production from 1950 to 1990, the topic of my seminar paper — all 15 pages of it in the biggest font and widest margins I could get away with.

And I’ll end on this oddity: Columbia requires every student to prove they can swim. Since I’ve seen pictures of the president riding the waves in Hawaii, I won’t ask that he release the results of his swim test.


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