A friend of mine emerges from the library with a shit-eating grin on her face: she’s just seen Nathan Chen, and he was Actually Doing Homework. Chagrined at my lack of reaction, she asks who I’d be shocked to see prowling the upholstered bomb shelter of the Bass Library lower level. Me? I’d only be starstruck by Josh.
Josh Beasley, Yale graduate and, inexplicably, real-life ROTC student, was the wunderkind of the college info YouTube world circa 2018. If you were a neurotic little AP student with Ivy League ambitions and a work ethic others described as “concerning,” you earnestly listened as he read his Common App essay and gave you an exclusive tour of his dorm room in none other than Timothy Dwight College, which weirdly makes perfect sense now that I go here. I went back to verify; he did, in fact, have a bunk bed and a borderline-worrisome amount of paraphernalia to support his amateur magic hobby. You can check, his 2,507-follower-strong LinkedIn boasts a three-year stint in “magic in mentalism.”
Beasley’s current view counts average somewhere in the low to mid thousands, with significant spikes for content regarding his return to school via Georgia Tech’s Online Masters in Computer Science Program. It’s endearing and a little sad to see that he’s still pumping out content in ad-hoc spurts, like when a rising star from the early 2000s ends up judging a singing competition show in a large rotating chair.
In his heyday, Beasley’s collegiate content consistently earned him over 50,000 views, and up to 410,000 for his most popular video, modestly titled, “READING MY COMMON APP ESSAY THAT GOT ME INTO YALE!!!” I was one of those viewers: my summer 2019 computer tabs alternated between his YouTube channel, the College Confidential forum — which I shudder to write out even now — and a Google Doc in which I was legitimately trying to craft a compelling Common App essay about doing my own laundry during a Life-Changing five whole weeks abroad in Spain. Had I been religious, I would have prostrated myself on the altar of Beasley for a fifteen-minute coffee chat with him.
Beasley graduated in spring 2021, meaning that with my COVID-19-induced gap year, I just missed the opportunity to cameo in one of his landscape shots of Cross Campus as copyright-free music played a little bit too loudly in the background. His time on campus also means the current generation of undergraduate Yalies all could have fallen into a Beasleyan rabbit hole during their respective application seasons; in conversations with ’24s and ’25s especially, the name rings a bell almost universally. It also brings a sheepish smile acknowledging the mild-to-moderate levels of crazy we had to afford ourselves in order to get here; Beasley seems the mascot for our application anxiety.
As I look through Beasley’s social media now, it’s almost laughable that I spent hours of my teenagedom idolizing some random 23-year-old just to have 21 LinkedIn connections in common with him and literally nothing else. As a Woman in Humanities with a disdain for cargo pants and rabbits in hats, it’s hard to conceptualize what I saw of myself in the crewcutted U.S. Space Force program manager. I think his content was mostly comforting: it reified Yale for me as an imperfect place where awkward little guys lived and worked and joined Chi Psi, rather than the unattainable, Clintonian fortress it looked like in Gilmore Girls. Whatever else you might say about him, Josh’s uncomfortable film roll of his suite’s 2K tournaments and his overly-proud documentation of his jaunts to Soad’s allowed us all to believe that normies could be Yalies too — a relief in an era in which the only alumni I knew of were Oscar winners and/or alleged war criminals.
I should note that as of this article’s release, I am harboring a grudge: Yale’s favorite Air Force Houdini wouldn’t respond to my really polite and duly ego-stroking Instagram direct message, even though we have 73 mutuals, and I can see that he’s been active. He did show face at the Yale Bowl last year, so maybe I can get my autograph — or vengeance — in Cambridge come fall.