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Michelle Obama Says Her Counselors Said She Would Never Get Into Princeton

by David Miler

First lady Michelle Obama is working to push forward with an educational initiative, and is using her personal history as a way to promote her ideas.  One compelling story is her struggle trying to get accepted into Princeton University.  Mrs. Obama says that her high school guidance counselors told her that she was never going to be accepted.

“They told me I was never going to get into a school like Princeton,” she told a group of student, according to the Washington Post. “I still hear that doubt ringing in my head.”

Mrs. Obama is lending her name to a new White House effort to help low income students go to college.   This is the first time that the first lady has discussed her educational background, which has been a political sticking point in her family’s continuous battle against the Republicans.

Mrs. Obama is going to speak to thousands of high school students across the country, mostly sophomores, about college and the application process.   She was also part of a recent White House Summit consisting of numerous institutions willing to invest in the recruitment and retention of low-income students.

“The truth is that if Princeton hadn’t found my brother as a basketball recruit, and if I hadn’t seen that he could succeed on a campus like that, it never would have occurred to me to apply to that school — never,” she said. “And I know that there are so many kids out there just like me.”

This is going to be a big test for Mrs. Obama, since challenging a high profile policy area like education can be politically complex.  The most telling example was when Hillary Clinton tried to participate in health care reform in the 1990s.

“Education is a really tough issue,” said George Bush’s chief of staff, Anita McBride. “Inevitably, someone is going to be unhappy with what you’ve promoted. No matter what she does, she has got to always make sure it married up with the broader administration goals.”

You can read more about Mrs. Obama’s initiative at The Washington Post.

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13 thoughts on “Michelle Obama Says Her Counselors Said She Would Never Get Into Princeton

  1. je

    Why did this counselor make this generic statement? The reason I’m asking is because I’ve heard and seen some of the same gestures when I was in High School. The counselor and administration would systematically place many of the African American student in Special Education classes and/or make general statements as if we/they could not do the work…without even giving them a chance. What is up with that. Until today, I can see what injustices the public school that I attended did… There should be some legal ramification for this behavior also. There is no way that the administration/coiunselor should be allowed to get away with this injustice…in the name of education.

  2. Lynn Magnuson

    Hi Friends. My teachers and counselors told me the very same thing, but for quite another reason. I grew up with a learning disability. In the 1950’s and 1960’s while African Americans were struggling for human rights, those with disabilities hadn’t even but started. There were no real precedents to do so. Eventually Brown vs. Board of Education came along … and finally we had something to stand on as well. If Black folks couldn’t be discriminated against in education … than neither could those with disabilities. Dr. King once said when the rights of one group are enlarged, so are everyone’s rights (paraphrased, can’t remember the word for word quote). It is very true, because humanity is interrelated and always will be. Like a pebble falling into a pond with it’s ripple effect … so it is with the affairs of human beings. What one part of it does affects everyone, even if it’s only a very tiny amount. So with this thought, I wish my brothers and sisters in the Human family a Happy Martin Luther King day …

  3. William Leonard

    Look at you now. When a person tell you that you can’t and you know that you can do what you know that can be done. My father me that I wasn’t college material and he was right from the way I was performing in high school. When I had to start paying my way in College the tables turn. What my father really didn’t know if he had said I want you to make the honor roll the rest of the school turn I would have did it because I always believe my father knew what was best for me..

  4. Amazing Grace

    My high school guidance counselor pulled that same lame stuff on all of my siblings. 3 didn’t listen to her, and one believed the guidance counselor and didn’t go to college. The three of the us, attended Universities and Graduated. So there, you awful guidance counselors, Shame On You for trying to keep an African-American down………

  5. s'ann

    Michelle (Mrs. Obama) is not alone in this regard. My daughter, who was valedictorian of her high school, was told by her high school counselor that she could not get into any Ivy League schools. Not only was my daughter accepted to several, she graduated from Duke University and Columbia Law School. I am so happy to see Michelle get involved. Her influence could definitely make a difference in education.

  6. Edwina

    Unfortunately, Black students (if they don’t have a strong self concept) are discouraged on every level from elementary to even college. It especially affects the Black male child and it starts at about 3rd grade. I sent my son to VCY( in Milwaukee which is supposedly a Christian School). They had him labeled as a “misfit”. He and his other friend stated the teacher would only allow the white kids to perform morning prayer. Plus, some other horrible things were said and done to him. I took him put of this ” hell hole” after one semester and enrolled him in a Milwaukee Public School where he had black and white teachers who where more “Christ -like” than Vic Ellisan’s VCY school. The man has a Christian radio station and all the commentaries just bash President Obama. I wrote the VCY school a scholarly letter telling them how Christianity should be fun ( abundant life via Christ) and how they discourage AA children especially the boys. If it wasn’t for my majority Black Christian Church and my aunt (retired Milwaukee Public School teacher), he probably would be a statistic. My son, Eric, is 33 ( he served 6 years in US Air Force), is married, full-time student, father and lives in Harlem (NYC). Eric is a wonderful human being and has NO desire to live in prejudice Milwaukee, WI. In fact, he told me since I retired to lose weight because if I become ill, I will have to join him because he will not live in Milwaukee.
    I could go on and on…. I am so blessed to retire as a nursing instructor. I obtained my degree from Tuskegee University and my masters from University of WI- Milwaukee. I am appalled how some of my Black colleagues were discouraged in nursing while attending these predominately white colleges and unfortunately in 2014, the same crap occurs some 39 years later.

  7. M. Hunter

    Never listen to a white counselor, believe in your self, your family, study hard, make those good grades, with these combination you can get into any college out there.

  8. Casey T.

    She is embellishing her story to make her history sound like a rags to riches tale.
    The fact is, she came from a two parent household where her father had a good city job during a time when Mayor Daley I personally blessed all positions on the city payroll. So he had to be connected. Plus her brother went to Catholic School, another plus for a chicago insider in the system. And she made it into clout heavy Whitney Young Hs, so this poor, downtrodden story does not resonate with me.

    • Kim B.

      I am also a graduate of Whitney Young H.S. Not everyone who went there was clout heavy. I graduated a year after the First Lady. She is not lying about the counselors at th school. I lacked the courcourage and self esteem to not believe what they told me.

    • Millicent Veal

      Not sure the intent of the story is to have people like you buy it or not buy it…there are those who claim that the Holocaust was a hoax. As one of those who was discouraged by a white guidance counselor and helped for four years by a white benefactor, I would posit that the intent of the statement was to have faith in yourself and to work hard for your goal.

  9. keep it real

    Well…. She showed them and not only that she married the President of the United States….


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