Education: The Oldest Undergraduate

A curious case faced the four members of the King's College matriculation board of Britain's University of Durham. The applicant before them had quit school at twelve—and he was now all of 68. Nonetheless, he wanted desperately to enter the university as an ordinary undergraduate. Had he been anyone less persuasive than ruddy-faced John McNair, the board might not even have bothered to consider him.

Applicant McNair had an impressive career behind him. After starting out as an errand boy, he was, when he retired in 1955, general and political secretary of the Independent Labor Party. Retirement, he soon found, turned out...

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