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Social Media: The Hidden Dangers for MBA Candidates


September 19, 2019


Josh Jones

f you’re reading this, you’re nobody’s fool – you know to clean-up your social media presence before you start applying, right?  We all make mistakes (looking at you Gov. Northam!), but you don’t need a reminder to clean-up your messes, right?

Good, glad we got that out of the way; now, we can have some fun.

Think about the “bad” aspects of social media – the “fake” news, the witch-hunts, the trolling.

What do they all have in common?

I’d say their most important commonality is a complete lack of critical thinking.  Face it, we should know better: so many of those stories can’t possibly be true.

I think these “panics” demonstrate an important economic insight: rational ignorance.  For most of us, the truth simply doesn’t matter most of the time; consequently, we don’t bother to investigate.  Honestly, think about the most recent conversation you had with anyone about anything: how much of what they said did you investigate in any way?  Did you ever bother to consider whether their statements matched their previous statements? The objective evidence? Your previous beliefs?

Was the “truth” of what they said very important to you?  Or were you mostly just chatting? Or taking orders? Or giving them?  If your boss is wrong, do you care? If you’re wrong, do you care to be set right?  If you think about it, we often don’t care about the truth, and, thus, we often don’t bother to look for it.

Why does this matter?  Because the MBA admissions officer reading your essay will suffer from rational ignorance: your life will change if he or she makes the wrong decision on your application, but his or her life won’t; consequently, she won’t be trying that hard to get to “know” you.

You need to overcome that rational ignorance – you need to make your application interesting enough to make yourself worth knowing.

So think about social media: what do you read?  What catches your eye? Obviously, you can’t talk about the Kardashians or any of that, but why do people like to read about the Kardashians?  

Ask yourself what makes clickbait clickbait and how you might be able to incorporate those elements into your own application.  How can you increase the conflict in your story? How can raise the stakes?

What do we read?  The rise of the unknown, the fall of the privileged, the life and death of the protagonist, the star-crossed lovers, love at first sight – it’s the same basic stories over and over again.  These stories work as click-bait, and they work as application essays because they’re common human experiences we all care about.

To put it another way, no one really cares about your award at the I-bank because everyone else has one and because it’s got nothing to do with them, but everybody cares about job loss, bankruptcy, and disgrace because we all share those fears.  If your victory over those fears culminated in an award, then that’s a story that will overcome any admission officer’s rational ignorance – even though it’s the same story.

In short, it’s all about presentation, which is precisely why you need our admissions consulting.


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