The perils of social media and university admissions …
After a failed LinkedIn humble-brag announcing his HBS acceptance, admit Michael O’Connolly may not be Boston-bound after all.
O’Connolly, 27, thought he’d done everything right. A self-described “risk-taker” who has “always done things my own way,” he followed in his father’s footsteps to attend Princeton before joining Goldman Sachs. “It was the first time anyone in my family has joined the research side. My brother is in investment banking and my Dad leads compliance, but I didn’t let that impact my decision.”
His acceptance to Harvard Business School was a thrilling affirmation of his hard work and willingness to chart his own path. “I am proud to be the first in my family to attend this specific graduate school at Harvard,” he shared. Upon receiving his acceptance, he knew what he had to do: humblebrag on LinkedIn. He took his time crafting the post, studying past examples. Finally, he hit “share” and went about his day. It would be 24 hours before his nightmare began.
Social media expert Lindsay Harrell reviewed the post, still tragically stuck at 52 likes as of press time. “He really hit the key points: Don’t say proud to share, say humbled and honored. Don’t thank your boss, thank your mentor,” she commented, shaking her head. “He even brought out the old high school teacher who first lit the spark (and to whom he hasn’t spoken in well over a decade). That’s a classic. The post is public, and still only 52 likes? To me, that indicates something deeper at play here.”
MBA Director of Admissions Chad Losee (MBA ’13) declined to comment, citing the sensitivity of admissions decisions. However, an anonymous source with knowledge of the situation shared, “When revisiting an admissions decision, we look at a few things: outright fraud, personal misconduct, and, of course, social media clout. We see posts getting hundreds, even thousands of likes. This guy couldn’t even break 100? He might be much happier at Sloan.”
While O’Connolly is understandably anxious pending the review of his application, if it doesn’t work out, he will take it as a sign. “I’ve always been a risk taker, and entrepreneurship is very appealing to me,” he said contemplatively. He was referring, of course, to his option of joining the founding team of his father’s new hedge fund.
Cooper Williams (MBA ’21) grew up in California and received his bachelor’s from Stanford. He worked for Alibaba Group in Hangzhou, China, and New York, where he also began performing as a standup comedian.