Before President Obama leaves the White House in January 2017, he’ll have to weather a painful rite of passage for millions of other parents across the country — sending his first-born to college. With application deadlines looming, Malia Obama has been visiting schools nationwide to determine where she’s headed next fall. It’s a pretty safe bet she will get into any school she chooses (would any admissions director in the world really turn down the First Daughter?) but what a choice it will be — let’s not forget the media speculation surrounding Chelsea Clinton’s decision in 1997 (she ultimately attended Stanford University).
So, to help out the senior at Sidwell Friends School, WWD has broken down the ranking, sartorial sensibility and the alum she should tap for a recommendation letter for each of her reported prospective schools. Happy essay-writing, Malia.
*Acceptance rate: 7.4%
*Student body: 8,088
Alumni recommendation letter: Toni Morrison, who received the 2012 Presidential Medal of Freedom.
Sartorial stereotype: Sports jackets, penny loafers, and leather accessories.
Big brands on campus: High end designers from the Zoe boutique in Palmer Square: Burberry, Marc by Marc Jacobs and Missoni.
Acceptance rate: 7%
Student body: 24,221
Alumni recommendation letter: It’s not usually advisable that your parents write your rec letter, but when your dad is POTUS…
Sartorial stereotype: Hardcore preppy nerds.
Big brands on campus: L.L. Bean and North Face–easily orderable online, since studying is far more important than traveling downtown to shop.
This story first appeared in the October 21, 2015 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Acceptance rate: 6%
Student body: 19,929
Alumni recommendation letter: Natalie Portman, who led a “Women for Obama” campaign in 2012.
Sartorial stereotype: Self-indulging school spirit.
Big brands on campus: Insignia sweatshirts from the university bookstore.
Acceptance rate: 8.7%
Student body: 9,181
Alumni recommendation letter: Andre Leon Talley, perpetual Michelle Obama fan.
Sartorial stereotype: Carefully curated, in order to seem totally careless.
Big brands on campus: A mix of J. Crew with thrifted finds from Foreign Affair.
University of Pennsylvania
Acceptance rate: 10.4%
Student body: 21,296
Alumni recommendation letter: Tory Burch, part of the Presidential Ambassadors for Global Entrepreneurship initiative.
Sartorial stereotype: Basic, in every sense of the word.
Big brands on campus: Philly natives Urban Outfitters and Antropologie.
Acceptance rate: 6.3%
Student body: 12, 336
Alumni recommendation letter: Sonia Sotomayor, Supreme Court Justice nominated by President Obama in 2009.
Sartorial stereotype: Subtle peacocks—sensible clothing with enough flair to garner marginal individuality.
Big brands on campus: Brooks Brothers, Gant
Ranking: #4 (tied with Columbia)
Acceptance rate: 5.1%
Student body: 16,795
Alumni recommendation letter: Chelsea Clinton. Both she and Malia attended the prestigious Sidwell Friends School in Washington D.C. while living at the White House.
Sartorial stereotype: Dressed down: jeans and a techy t-shirt or athlesiurewear—though they’d never call it that.
Big brands on campus: Lululemon, Levi’s, tees from a university club.
University of California, Berkeley
Acceptance rate: 16%
Student body: 37,581
Tuition: in-state $13,432, out-of-state $38,140
Alumni recommendation letter: Joan Didion, recipient of the National Humanities Medal.
Sartorial stereotype: Anything goes—the Bay Area is home to far weirder things.
Big brands on campus: Birkenstocks, any form of baja hoody.
New York University
Acceptance rate: 35.5%
Student body: 49, 274
Alumni recommendation letter: Blair Waldorf and Dan Humphrey. The president once made a reference to the fictional “Gossip Girl” characters at a town hall in Los Angeles.
Sartorial stereotype: Black, black and more black.
Big brands on campus: Second-hand items from Beacon’s Closet or Buffalo Exchange.
Acceptance rate: 23.8%
Student body: 2,573
Alumni recommendation letter: Sheila Nevins, President of HBO Documentary Films. Malia had an internship on the set of HBO’s “Girls” last summer.
Sartorial stereotype: Fashion intellectuals.
Big brands on campus: Isabel Marant, Celine, Stella McCartney.
*Ranking, acceptance rate, student body and tuition data from U.S. News & World Report.