He attended Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts, for three years, where he was a member of the Mandolin Club and wrote for a student publication, The Mirror. After graduating from Phillips Academy in 1910 he attended Yale University, where he majored in English literature.
An English literature graduate of Yale University, he served as chairman of the board of the Yale Literary Magazine, served as literary editor of the Yale Courant, contributed to campus humor magazine The Yale Record and was the class poet. He was one of the poets to whom The Yale Book of Student Verse, 1910–1919 was dedicated. Much of his early life was spent in travel, especially in Europe.
He was not overly popular there, but was thought to be unusually introspective.
Author George Henry Nettleton (1874–1959) called Rand"s class poem, written as a senior, an unconscious prophecy. After graduating from Yale in 1914, Rand gave his attention chiefly to writing.
He published three volumes of poetry (listed below), and his poems were published in literary and fiction journals of the time, including The Bellman, The Argosy, Lippincott’s, Snappy Stories, Sport Story Magazine, Picture-Play Weekly, Top-Notch, and The Smart Secretariat. When war broke out Rand greatly desired to enter the military.
He volunteered for the Navy and all available Army branches, including the Aviation Corps, Infantry, and Artillery, and even attempted to enlist in the Canadian Army, but was rejected because of his poor eyesight.
He was able finally to enlist in the Quartermaster Corps, and was stationed at Camp Meigs in Washington District of Columbia. He was recommended to be sent to Camp Joseph East. Johnston, the main Quartermaster mobilization and training camp, for officers" training, but after only 60 days at Camp Meigs he contracted influenza (this was during the great "Spanish flu" pandemic of 1918) and was sent to Walter Reed Hospital, where he died on October 15, 1918. He was twenty-seven years old. In his poem, Rand speaks eloquently of his regret at the prospect of dying in a sickbed instead of as a man of action.
The War Department published the poem on December 2, 1918, along with a preface praising the "limited service men" who sought active service but (for physical limitations or other reasons) were denied the privilege of joining the combatant forces of the United States.
Kenneth Rand"s body was sent home to Minneapolis, where he was buried in uniform. lieutenant concluded.
His final poem, Limited Service Only, written a few days before his death, was found in his uniform and at the time was considered one of the genuine poetic expressions of fervor and patriotism written during the Great War.