ISB Class of 2022 (2021 Intake) Essay Analysis

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ISB has announced the essay topics for the PGP class of 2022 (2021 intake) applications. Salient features of the admissions cycle this year,
  • Round 1’s admissions deadline is 20th September 2020, only a change of 5 days from last year. Round 2’s deadline hasn’t been announced yet. ISB might have only 2 rounds unlike previous years since ~200 2020 admits are rumored to have deferred their admissions to 2021
    Overall, the application remains similar to previous years
    The program will commence on April 10, 2021. ISB could start with the Digital Head-start Module (DHM) for next year as well as the current class is expected to graduate by May 31, 2021
Changes to the program and application deadlines covered in detail here ... s-of-2022)

Like previous years, the underlying tenet of the essays remains the same, i.e. ‘Why you’ and ‘Why PGP /ISB’. However, the way ISB is expecting you to answer the former has slightly changed. Here’s our take on the essays and the themes which you should cover.

Describe with examples the most important personal quality that you possess that significantly enhances your prospects of being successful as a leader? (400 words max)

This isn’t the classic ‘Why you’ essay wherein ISB gave you an opportunity to explain why you should be an addition to the program. In the past, this essay focused on your candidature for ISB and to demonstrate a good trait about the ISB, much like other schools have done in the past. For e.g.

- At ISB we value diversity as it enhances both the in-class and out of class learning experience. Tell us how would you contribute to the same
- Kellogg’s purpose is to educate, equip & inspire brave leaders who create lasting value. Tell us about a time…
- Teamwork is at the core of the Wharton MBA experience with each student contributing unique elements to our collaborative culture. How will you contribute to the Wharton community..

This year, ISB has moved away from this norm and forces the candidates to introspect a lot more on what qualities you possess to become a leader. This is a much harder essay compared to previous years. Here are tips to keep in mind while writing this essay,

- Focus on the inputs to leadership: ISB knows that becoming a successful leader is always a work-in-progress. Hence, you need to demonstrate qualities (i.e. inputs) which add to you capabilities as a leader. For e.g. an ability and desire to innovate, helping others, taking initiative, challenging the status quo, etc. are all traits of good leaders
- Combine personal and professional examples: Leadership can manifest itself into different forms. ISB is not only looking for examples from your work, it is equally interested in how you are as the person behind the professional. Personal examples would reinforce your multi-faceted capabilities as a leader it is also a great way to show a clear pattern of leadership
- Art of Storytelling: Merely highlighting the outcome and the fact that you were at the centre of it wouldn’t be enough. Often, candidates fail to explain the need for them to action and demonstrate the trait. Hence, use the STAR (Situation, Task, Action and Results) method to communicate the examples. At the end, also mention what you gained from the experience
- Be Authentic: In the interview, expect questions on each and every line you write in the essay so make sure your examples are believable and you did experience / significantly contribute to the situations / outcomes you portray. Hence, do not go overboard with the traits of becoming a leader. If you have the potential, the adcom and alumni on the interview panel will be able to gauge it without you having to exponentially oversell
- Don’t forget how you’d contribute to the class: Although ISB hasn’t specifically asked for it, you should still highlight how your experiences and traits would help brand ISB and your peers. This is still an opportunity to demonstrate your research on the school.

Remember that the areas covered in this essay should complement other parts of your application. Needless to say, stay within the word limit.
This essay requires a lot more thought and would need large number of iterations. Regardless of the outcome, you’d know far more about yourself during this process than you do now!

What are your short term and long term career goals? How will Post Graduate Program at ISB assist you in achieving your goals.(400 words max)

This is the classic ‘Why PGP/ISB’ essay and naturally ISB wants to know how it would enable you to reach your goals.
This essay should cover WHAT are your goals, HOW an MBA fits in the picture and WHY ISB is your choice. The essay is more about you and how ISB is a very good choice in the mix. ISB’s principles for evaluating this essay include (but are not limited to),
- Realistic expectations from the school
- Clarity of thought on your goals
- High employability post MBA

You should start with your overall experience and the career plans in the short and long term. Make sure to articulate the linkage between your past and the future you envision for yourself, i.e. why you want a particular career path. Also, try and be specific about the industry or role you intend to target.

Then the focus should be on how a PGP from ISB fill the gaps you have. This is your opportunity to showcase the research you’ve conducted on ISB. Avoid focusing only on things such as world-class faculty, infrastructure, networking, etc. Instead, cover the specific clubs, events and centers of excellence which would help your achieve your goals.

Last tip, your essays should be like a correct critical reasoning passage, it should have linkages between cause and effect and no out of flow statements which are of no significance to the premise of the passage.

Hope the above essay analysis helped. All the best for this application season! Feel free to reach out for a free profile evaluation.

Co-founder, S4G | ISB Class of 2013

Team Strategy4GMAT
an ISB alumni venture

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