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How to write ISB YLP Stage 1 and Stage 2 essays?

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, stage 1 deadline is March 27, 2022 and stage 2 deadline is August 31, 2022.

ISB YLP essay

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.

ISB YLP Stage-1 Essay Question

The Stage-1 Application Essay remains critical to one’s application, given that the essay is the only key component that the applicant is able to present to the admissions team, to communicate their best stories.

The following is the Stage-1 Essay Question for YLP 2022:

“Describe a personal incident or achievement which changed you as a person. How did it change your perspective about yourself or about others? (300 words)”

ISB YLP Stage-1 Essay Analysis & Tips

YLP applicants do not have any full-time professional experience. The question, therefore, aptly asks for a “personal” incident or achievement. While you may touch upon any aspect of your life, relating this story/incident/example to a leadership role may further add value, instead of presenting a standard, ad hoc situation, where you may just be an individual contributor. This leadership story can come from a college activity, community engagement, or an initiative beyond college.

It is possible that you have had incidents/experiences relating to your childhood that transformed your approach to life – but if you had no role to play in that incident (other than being affected by it), then it may not be the best story to pick.

The second part of the question asks how the incident or achievement “changed you as a person”. While this is open-ended, you do not need to take this part too literally. The change need not be too transformational or dramatic. The idea is to present how the experience left you with some crucial learnings.

“How did it change your perspective about yourself or about others?” – well, at some level, the answer to this part of the question becomes easier if you have presented an incident that involves other stakeholders. This will allow you to demonstrate skills such as teamwork, empathy, humility, etc. Additionally, you may present what you learned from others, as well as from the entire experience, bringing about a positive shift in your perspective or approach.

The 300-word limit ensures that you communicate the story or incident in brief and touch upon how it impacted you.

ISB YLP Stage-1 Sample Essay Structure

  • Intro – well begun is half done (approx. 50 words)
  • The primary story/incident – the devil is in the details (approx. 150 words)
  • Learning/change of perspective – finish strong (approx. 100 words)
isb-ylp-stage1-essay-structure

This article has been contributed by Prashant Tibrewal.

Prashant Tibrewal is the founder of ISBmantra and Admit Square Consulting and has mentored 1000+ MBA aspirants to get into top global universities such as Harvard, Stanford, INSEAD, Oxford, HEC, ISB, etc. Over the last 10 years, Prashant has worked closely with candidates from a diverse range of profiles and has mentored applicants with GMAT scores as low as 610 to make it to ISB.

With a strong focus on ISB and a team of Former ISB Admissions Officers on Board, ISBmantra offers personalized interview prep with its Interview Builder Assured Admit with over 80% success rate and a moneyback guarantee. Feel free to drop a line at info@isbmantra.com to know more.

ISB YLP Stage 2 Essay topic

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.

How to write the ISB YLP Stage 2 Essay

You can write a good ISB YLP Stage 2 essay if you follow these 2 steps:

  1. Identify a skill you want to improve
  2. Align your past achievements with your future plans

Step 1 – Identify a skill you want to improve

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.

ISB YLP Essay goals

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.

Step 2 – Align your past achievements with your long term plans

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.

ISB YLP essay tips

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 with 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.

An important tip for the ISB YLP Stage 2 essay

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

Prashant_Tibrewal_US_News_Business_School_Rankings_2020_Analysis

Prashant Tibrewal is the founder of ISBmantra and Admit Square Consulting and has mentored 1000+ MBA aspirants to get into top global universities such as Harvard, Stanford, INSEAD, Oxford, HEC, ISB, etc. Over the last 10 years, Prashant has worked closely with candidates from a diverse range of profiles and has mentored applicants with GMAT scores as low as 610 to make it to ISB.

With a strong focus on ISB and a team of Former ISB Admissions Officers on Board, ISBmantra offers personalized interview prep with its Interview Builder Assured Admit with over 80% success rate and a moneyback guarantee. Feel free to drop a line at info@isbmantra.com to know more.

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