ISB YLP Essays

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ISB YLP Essays


The ISB YLP program was born with a simple idea – finding the best talent and nurturing it need not have to wait till the talented garner 4-5 years of work experience to apply for top executive MBA programs. There are a large number of students who have the leadership potential, academic ability, and passion to be business leaders in the future. The ISB YLP aims to recognize these leaders, tap them, and groom them even before they begin their MBA. ISB YLP essays, an integral part of stage 2 of the process, play a special role in this selection process.


As part of the ISB YLP program process, outstanding students from top institutions are encouraged to apply to the program in the penultimate year of their undergraduate course.

In the final year, they take the GMAT and apply to the ISB YLP. If selected, they will be required to gain a minimum work experience of 21 months before they can join the PGP at ISB. In these 21 months, they will also attend four learning weekends at ISB, where they will be groomed by ISB faculty and mentors.

Admissions pre-requisites

Applicants must be in the pre-final (penultimate) year of study to apply for the ISB YLP. Bear in mind though, that you cannot apply to the YLP if the duration of your undergraduate program is less than four years.

Any applicant who wishes to apply to ISB in their YLP program must be in the pre-final or final year of undergraduate, or a post-graduate student, at the time of application. The admission process takes place in four stages:

  • Stage 1
    Fill out the online application form.
    Provide your academic details as requested.
    Mention all your awards and accomplishments.
    Answer the Essay questions.
    Pay the fees and submit the form.
  • Stage 2
    Provide your GMAT/GRE score.
    Essay answer.
    1 Evaluation.
  • Stage 3
  • Stage 4
    Offer Letter/Admission Offer.

The first stage of the process is only a light filter

The first stage of the ISB YLP admissions process involves a basic preview of the applicant’s profile and a review of a video submitted by the applicant.

At GyanOne, we have seen that most applicants who have a decent academic and extra-curricular profile are able to make it through this stage.

The video is important, but provided that one comes across as logical, coherent, and clear in it, this stage should not be too much of a hurdle.

The ISB YLP essays in the second stage of the process are critical

In the second stage of the ISB YLP admissions process (post taking the GMAT), the candidate is required to submit three essays and also two evaluations (recommendations).

The focus on the essays at this stage is especially important. Looking at the ISB YLP essays for 2011, 2012, and 2013, we see common strains in what ISB is looking for:

1.ISB requires YLP applicants to strongly differentiate themselves from their peers

2.ISB requires applicants to have a clear career vision even at this stage of their careers

3.The admissions committee wants to see how the applicant envisions that ISB can help him/her to fulfill his/her career vision

In a sense, this is a surprise, because the ISB PGP application too stresses on much the same.

While drawing from professional experience makes the task easier for PGP applicants, YLP applicants need to probe a bit to hit the right chords. Asking yourself which career you want to choose, why, and how ISB can help you to excel in it is critical here.

Remember, there are no ‘right’ answers here – just appropriately framed ones. Try to really find out about the industry you are going to be a part of, and also of how ISB can help you to step up through the MBA program.

Click here to read a detailed analysis of the YLP stage 2 essays.

The third stage of the process reinforces the first two

If you did fairly well in the first two stages of the YLP process, you need to make sure that you are well prepared to take on the admissions interview.

The third stage really feeds on the first two (a strong profile, decent communication skills, and a clear career vision).

Contrary to popular belief, though, interview success is not a natural consequence of clear career goals and good communication skills, though these definitely help. Preparation and good research play a strong part too.

ISB YLP essay analysis for Stage 1

ISB YLP essay: 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 essay analysis: YLP essays are the hardest to write. You’d be surprised by how many people are let down by their essays. Here is how you should approach this essay.

This question is about your personal growth as a human being. Let’s face it. When we are at school, we just want to get through with our studies because that’s what we’ve been conditioned to do. We don’t spend time thinking, debating, and reflecting on important things in life. Though this sounds a bit extreme, it’s true.

This essay is an opportunity to showcase your journey as a person and how it has shaped you into the person you are now. Often, the events that have impacted us the most in life have been ones we were thrown into – rather than those planned. That is what makes this essay so interesting.

Sometimes, all it takes is a small event, which you may not even recall now, to shape something inside of you that propels you to greatness later in life. It can be anything from something as small as winning a prize, being spoken to by someone who inspires you, or a full-fledged trip to another country that changes your entire perspective on things.

Whatever it has impacted you in this way, remember that it is not about the size of the event – but about the impact, it has had on your thinking and personality. It should be something that deeply impacted your psyche and changed your perspective about yourself or others. To answer this essay effectively, pick out one incident/achievement that impacted how you saw yourself or the larger world around you.

So what do you write?

Write about an incident that changed your perspective on life and made you realize that there is more to life than just making it through school or college. So, for this answer, it would help if you’d talk about an incident that turned your thinking around. A change in thinking so profound that it changed the course of your life – incidents that shook your belief system. Pick a situation where you felt strongly about something and then one experience challenged that belief.

The incident has to have had a profound impact on your thinking and, therefore, impact your life decisions. Something like: “I went trekking in the Himalayas and realized that I need to spend more time doing things I love” would not work as it is too generic. For example, if you come from a small town in India, you grew up believing that everyone from Delhi was arrogant and rude. Then one day, you move to Delhi for college or work and meet someone who turns out to be the nicest person ever. This incident could change your perspective about life. Imagine… a small town girl moves to Delhi for college, never expecting to meet an actual human being from there. But then she does. And he’s lovely! A rude and arrogant person? No way! This changes everything. She leaves Delhi with a whole new perspective.

Admissions officers want to see how your life experiences have made you who you are and how you would fit into their school. This should be clear from the start. The first sentence should be a bold statement of your experience, which will be described in detail throughout the rest of the essay. Once you identify the impact, then think about what specific incident or achievement caused it. This is a challenging task because your life experiences are unique and the change you underwent may not easily be apparent. Start by thinking about what has changed in you after this incident or achievement. How did it change your opinions? Your views on yourself or others?

Here are some examples of possible situations that can be used:

  • Living in a different country (a move to a new country, an exchange program)
  • Interacting with people from other cultures (travelling, working with international teams)
  • Taking on leadership roles (leading a team of peers, managing a team)
  • Dealing with pain and loss (losing someone close to you, overcoming illness)

These are just possibilities, and of course, you should write about something you actually experienced, but these examples should get your mind racing.

Once you have chosen an experienced and identified the change it brought in your perspective, the next step is to make this change apparent. The best way to do that is by telling a story — starting from the event itself, describing how it affected you – and then authentically and smartly driving towards a conclusion on how you changed.

The qualities that ISB YLP looks for

This is what the Indian School of Business Young Leaders Program (ISB YLP) looks for in its applicants:

Good academics. For all three stages, good grades are a must. The higher your grades, the better your chances of getting through. A certain CGPA or percentage may not be mandatory, but the competition is intense at each stage and your marks give you an edge.

Good essays and resume: You have to write essays in Stage 1 and Stage 2, so you must do them right. A good essay (in Stage 1) should highlight your leadership initiative, while a good essay in Stage 2 should adequately define your goals and how ISB will help you achieve them. And your resume should highlight your achievements and leadership potential in a short, crisp way.

Leadership skills: This is where most candidates go wrong — they focus too much on their academics and not enough on their other achievements. ISB wants to know what you’ve done apart from studying. Have you done internships? Have you taken part in competitions? Are you interested in social work? What about extra-curricular activities? All these things show initiative and leadership qualities, so be sure to highlight them in your SOPs, especially at Stage 2 and above.

Communication skills: Stage 3 of the YLP admissions process is an interview, and as applicants don’t have work experience, communication skills become very important. Starting 2022, YLP applicants also spend time abroad in ISB partner schools before they begin at ISB, so having good communication skills is critical to get an admit and make the most of the program and the pre-program component.

The ISB YLP – a good alternative to other 2+2 programs and Masters in Management courses

Finally, the ISB YLP program offers applicants at the cusp of finishing college an excellent alternative to having to wait 3-4 years to apply to a top MBA program.

Students with an active interest in business management / business leadership might also like to consider Masters in Management courses or other programs similar to the ISB YLP.


Want to check out more on ISB YLP?

The ISB YLP program

The Harvard 2+2 and the ISB YLP: Not the Only Early Admit MBAs


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