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How They Did in College

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Obama: Good, Despite the Partying!
Obama began his higher education at Occidental College, a small liberal-arts school in Los Angeles, on a full scholarship in 1979. He recounts in his memoir that his time there was filled with deep discussions of race — and some indulgences in drugs and partying. He jettisoned his nickname “Barry” and embraced his birth name. His favorite class was Modern Political Thought. But after two years, yearning for a more constructive atmosphere and the excitement of New York, the 20-year-old transferred to Columbia University. At Columbia he cleaned up his act and focused more on his work, majoring in political science and international relations and writing his senior thesis on Soviet nuclear disarmament. Though he was regarded as a smart and capable, he didn’t stand out, and many of his classmates didn’t foresee the national success he is now enjoying. "He was not at all a high-profile student, not the sort of guy who is class president, who everyone says is going to have a future in politics," Stuart Levi, a fellow student at Columbia, told the Daily News.

McCain: Disrespecting His Elders
After his first summer at the Naval Academy, McCain had “good grease,” which meant he showed promise and potential for leadership. However, he rejected the authority of upperclassmen simply because they were older. “It was bullshit, and I resented the hell out of it,” he has said. Before attaining good grease again in the final months of his last year at Annapolis, he earned annual membership in the “Century Club,” an honor reserved for cadets who earned more than 100 demerits for infractions like poorly shined shoes and messy rooms. He graduated from Annapolis 894th in a class of 899 midshipmen.


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