The Indian School of Business is among the most selective programs in India, and if you did not make it, don’t spent your time wallowing in disappointment, but try again.
If you’ve been rejected from ISB and have decided to reapply, your first step should be to figure out why you were rejected in the first place. The best way to do this is to call the admissions office and talk to someone there. Hopefully, they’ll give you some specific feedback that will help you with your reapplication. More often than not, though, they won’t be able to share very much information with you because of the number of applications. In recent years, ISB has been known to share application feedback with rejected applicants that showed promise.
While ISB does not have any specific guidelines for reapplicants, you should use this opportunity to address whatever issues were raised during your previous application cycle. If you didn’t get called for an interview last time, it’s likely that something was lacking in your application. Take some time to identify what could have been done better and then incorporate that into your reapplication strategy.
The Admissions Committee at ISB has every reason to want a diverse class that is filled with people who will add value to the school and contribute interesting stories and perspectives to the program. That doesn’t mean that everyone who gets admitted will be a perfect fit for every member of the Admissions Committee! Stop criticizing your profile, and start looking at your application instead. That is what your starting point would be.
How you can improve as an ISB reapplicant
Here are five things you can do to improve your chances the second time around
- Review your weaknesses from last time: Do not go simply by the feedback given by the alumni or anyone else who has interviewed you for ISB. Instead, review your application and see what was wrong with it. If there were some weak points, work on correcting them and revisit them in your reapplication. The ISB admissions committee or a professional consultant are your best bets in analyzing what went wrong. You weaknesses could be anything from poor essays to a low GMAT to poor interviewing skills or goals that are not aligned to your background and skills.
- Enhance teamwork and leadership experience: Work on activities that provide exposure of working in teams. If you don’t have any team experience so far then join a club where you can meet new people and work in teams. This would also be good to highlight in your application.
- Improve GMAT Score: If your GMAT score was significantly below 700, it may be wise to retake the test and try and ensure 700 and above score. While there are people who make it to ISB every year with less than 700 on the GMAT, you are doing yourself no favours by applying again with the score that is significantly below the average. In case you have already taken multiple GMAT attempts and are unable to make further progress with your score, taking the GRE is an option you may want to explore.
- Take a gap year: This one is tough but if you have already tried for ISB once and not been through, then there is no harm in taking a year off and working on the mentioned pointers above. The break will also give you an opportunity to test out various career options which can help you decide what exactly do you want to pursue post MBA. This is especially useful for those applicants who have been asked to get more managerial or relevant experience related to their post-MBA goals.
- Rework your essays: You cannot use the same essays as last year. If there have been no significant developments, then you will not be able to improve your application significantly. While your goals or some aspects of your achievements can understandably remain similar to the previous application, you need to make a fresh attempt at the essays. We have often seen this to be the top reason that ISB applicants get rejected. They do not focus enough on their essays, and in many cases, express their goals and aspirations very poorly. If you are going to get into ISB, you need strong essays and especially a strong goals statement. Your essays should not be generic in nature and should not be targeted at any other business schools. The essays should focus on your goals and how the program at ISB will help you achieve these goals. Also, avoid including essays from previous applications to other business schools as your ISB essays. Instead, take some time and write new essays that reflect who you are and what you want to achieve through the program at ISB.
- Treat the online application seriously: Do not leave out or rush through important sections – when filling in your ISB application, make sure that you fill out each section completely and thoroughly with no gaps of information in between paragraphs. A common mistake that many applicants make is leaving out important details about themselves or rushing through the application while omitting awards or activities or hobbies or responsibilities. Take our advice – don’t!
- Consider a different or refreshed recommendation: Make sure that you ask for new recommendations from people who know you better this time around and also people who can add value to your candidature by talking about how much you have grown over the past year. Even if you go with the same recommender, you should discuss with her/him in greater depth about your profile and skills, and make sure that she/he knows about your passion for getting into ISB.
How to answer the ISB reapplicant essay
Before we get into the ISB reapplicant essay, a point to note: most successful reapplicants make a significant change in their profile. You can only write so much in the reapplication essays that you have changed as a person. The adcom sees through that. This is why a significant change in your profile is important – to show them that you have indeed evolved and have become a better candidate.
ISB wants to know how your reapplication has changed you as an applicant and, more specifically, why you are a better match for the school now than you were when you applied the first time.
ISB has a 200-word reapplicant essay, titled thus:
How has your profile changed from the time you last applied to the ISB?
Through the reapplicant essay, ISB is looking for key areas in which you have grown and become a better applicant. Hopefully, you have gained some solid work experience that can help you build a stronger profile and help strengthen your overall candidacy. If so, this is the place to highlight it!
Even if you weren’t able to change much about your profile between applications, there are still plenty of other ways you can show growth in the essay. You can show greater business knowledge through certifications or strong leadership or extra-curricular aspects on this essay. You can also improve your test scores by retaking the GMAT or GRE and scoring higher.
ISB is particularly interested in applicants with demonstrated leadership experience, so it’s important to highlight any major leadership roles or responsibilities that you have taken on since making your first application.
Through the reapplicant essay, ISB is looking for key areas in which you have grown and become a better applicant. These can include academic or professional achievements, improved GMAT scores or additional extracurricular activities.
In your reapplicant essay, make sure you clearly mention what you did not do well in your previous application and how you have improved yourself since then. This will help the Admissions Committee understand why they should give you another chance to get into the program.
Think about what would make you a stronger candidate now than before you applied. Maybe you’ve taken an additional leadership role at work and can cite specific examples of new responsibilities and accomplishments. Maybe you’ve done some consulting work on the side and can show your ability to manage projects outside of normal working hours. Maybe you’ve learned some new skills through independent study (perhaps even an MBA-level class) that will help you hit the ground running in school.
Caveat: Don’t neglect your previous ISB interview
Although there may be many reasons for a rejection, the most important factor for reapplicants is to not repeat their mistakes. Some applicants get rejected simply because their interviewing skills are poor, and not because their profile or GMAT score was lacking. This is why you should focus not just on your application but also your previous interview and try to identify areas in which you could have potentially improved. Often, interviewers are ISB alumni who are open to sharing feedback, and this may be a valuable source of information on how to improve. Even if you felt you did decently well on the interview, it’s good to get this feedback, because usually, candidates are not very accurate evaluators of their own interview performance.