Essay Analysis

ISB YLP Stage 2 Essay Analysis

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The ISB Young Leaders Programme (YLP) is an exciting entry channel to the ISB PGP for MBA aspirants who are still in college. The popularity is reflected in the consistent year-on-year increase in YLP applications that the school receives. With a three-stage process of evaluation, if you are still reading this article, the assumption is that you have already been shortlisted for the Stage 2 application which is due by August 31, 2020. 

While this may seem like a lot of time, this time is going to be consumed mainly by your GMAT / GRE preparation, finally leaving very little time to work on the application essay & the recommendation. We have seen many high potential candidates with 700+ GMAT score getting rejected mainly because they started working on their application very close to the deadline and did not do justice to the application. Hence, starting work on the application along with the GMAT / GRE preparation will give you enough time to introspect well and develop a stronger application. 

The YLP Stage 2 application requires you to answer the question, What’s the first and foremost thing you would like to improve in yourself? How do you plan to do it?” within 300 words.

The question surely is tricky! Firstly, identifying that one thing that you would like to improve & present a plan for improvement does require significant soul searching. YLP applicants who haven’t yet seen the real business world would struggle to identify that one significant improvement area and develop it into a coherent story. 

More importantly, that improvement area would need to be something that can be realistically & uniquely improved upon through the ISB YLP + PGP combination. For example, saying that the one improvement thing is to learn digital marketing, accounting or another such functional skill may immediately lead the application reviewer to discount it as trivial and something that can be achieved through other options. Though this essay doesn’t specifically ask for your goals or your fit with ISB, it might be a good idea to at least touch upon how ISB will help achieve your career aspirations and how it is a perfect fit for you. Creatively building that into the 300-word essay response will help you make a more compelling case to the Admissions Committee that you have a strong reason to pursue the YLP and eventually be at ISB. 

To be able to do this, since the YLP applicant is either a pre-final year (now in the final year) or a final year (now presumably a fresh graduate with a job), it would be important to link how your past achievements and near term plans align with the mid to long term improvement plan. Pre-final year students will have the advantage of presenting intentions (plans of pursuing an internship, academic courses & a job after graduation) that align with the improvement plan. Final year applicants may not have high flexibility to present an improvement plan that’s not connected with their current job/industry/function since they would have already started working by now. They will have to structure their improvement plan & goals to fit the current job narrative. It would be illogical if the job that they are doing doesn’t even remotely align to their improvement plan & future goals. One way could very well be to present the skills they hope to develop through their current employment and discuss how they are keen to develop complementary capabilities such as people skills or further analytical ability. 

Another aspect to be careful about is to not throw-up contradictions with the YLP Stage 1 application essay, “Describe an event or accomplishment that became a turning point in your life? How did it change your perspective about yourself and others?”. Structuring the Stage 2 essay narrative in a way that it flows seamlessly with the Stage 1 application will earn additional brownie points. Application reviewers and interviewers at ISB have access to the Stage 1 application, and any conflicting stories will surely get noticed.  

ISB YLP Stage 2 Sample Essay Structure

Here is a Sample Essay Structure for the ISB YLP Stage 2 application that you may follow, but it’s important to realize that a good application essay is original and creative:

  • Start with a larger theme of the core skills you have demonstrated till now (leverage academics, internships, projects, extra-curricular initiatives, etc.)
  • Present the skills that you intend or plan to work on in the short term
  • Elaborate how you hope to develop those skills
  • Conclude with how the ISB YLP + PGP combination will add significant value to your plans
  • Structure all the above creatively within the 300-word limit

Remember, ISB likes leaders and people who are able to take charge. So, go ahead, take charge of this essay, and give it your best shot.

About the Author: Sanjay Dhingra is the Chief Mentor & Managing Partner at ISBmantra & Admit Square Consulting. An ISB PGP alumnus himself, previously he was an Admission Officer at ISB where he reviewed, interviewed and admitted students to the ISB PGP, Early Entry Option (EEO), YLP & PGPPro programs. 

About ISBmantra

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