ISB Young Leaders Programme (YLP): Overview and Stage 2 Essay Analysis 2021

When you are in college, you want to secure your career. Be it through a job or through higher studies. In most cases, students want to pursue an MBA to get into a management role as early as possible. You can go the CAT route and get into an MBA program without work-experience, or you can go for India’s number 1 MBA program at Indian School of Business.

If the GMAT route is your preferred choice, then the Young Leaders Program (YLP) at the Indian School of Business (ISB) is your best option in India. In this post, we give you a low-down on the ISB YLP and share some useful tips on writing the ISB YLP Stage 2 essay 2021. Note- While the stage 2 essay is not yet released at the time of writing this post, it is expected to be in line with last year.

ISB YLP: How to get into it?

There are 3 ways to get into ISB Post-Graduate Programme (PGP) in Management. ISB’s YLP is one of the three ways you can get admission to ISB PGP. The other two are Early-entry Option (EEO), for professionals who are employed and do not have the minimum 2 years of work experience, and the regular PGP option for those who have completed 2 years of full-time work experience.

ISB YLP : Who is it for?

The YLP was introduced in 2012 and is a great fit for students coming from different educational backgrounds. ISB YLP is for students who are in the pre-final year of their undergraduate or postgraduate degree programs. Once admitted, candidates go through a program containing online learning modules and on-campus weekend sessions where they have an early interaction with the faculty, current students and alumni giving them a good idea of the program that begins 2 years later.

The YLP selected candidates eventually begin the PGP when they complete 20 months of full-time experience. The ISB YLP is designed on the lines of Harvard Business School’s 2+2 program, Booth Scholars Program, etc.

Are students from ISB YLP treated differently than regular PGP or EEO?

No. All the three, i.e. YLP, PGP and EEO begin their program together. There is no distinction between them. The only difference between is in terms of the application procedure.

Let’s say as of today you have 2 years of full-time work experience. You can then apply for PGP directly and get into ISB.

If you have less than 2 years of experience but have graduated from the college, then you can apply through Early Entry Option (EEO)

If you are in pre-final or final year of college, then you can apply through YLP route to get into ISB.

As soon as the students complete the full-time work-ex requirements, they become part of the regular PGP cohort. Once you are in, all students go through the same courses, get taught by the same faculty, no difference whatsoever.

The advantage ISB YLP has over other options is that it gives you slightly more time to immerse yourself into ISB in comparison to other modes.

What qualities make a candidate desirable for ISB YLP?

ISB adcom looks for the following qualities in your YLP application:

  • Academic performance
  • Analytical ability
  • Leadership potential
  • Extra-curricular activities

Excelling in just one of these areas is not sufficient. You need to be an all-rounder with a strong streak in at least 2 out of these 4 areas. You need to meet the same standard as you would for ISB PGP so there is nothing that comes easy. For starters, your college GPA matters a lot at ISB YLP. If you have a GMAT score, then it should be in the vicinity of 700 (the higher the better). For leadership, your college clubs are fine but if you lead a team to a national or international event then it elevates your application. Consistency in extra-curricular activities (e.g. social work) is also a great way to score high on the adcom list.

ISB YLP Application Process

The application process is divided into 3 stages:

  • Stage 1: Application form with one essay and fee (deadline: 28 Mar 2021). The results will be out on 5th May 2021. You can check your ISB YLP result here.
  • Stage 2: GMAT/GRE score, one essay and a recommendation (deadline: 31 August 2021). Result between 31 August to 5 November 2021
  • Stage 3: Interviews with shortlisted candidates (between 31 August to 5 November 2021). Results due by 10th November 2021

Every applicant selected through the ISB Young Leaders Program (ISB YLP) is awarded a scholarship of INR 100,000

ISB YLP Stage 2 Essay Analysis

For the 2020 process, the stage 2 application is due by August 31, 2021. In addition to preparing for GMAT / GRE, the shortlisted candidates should’ve also submitted one more essay and recommendation letter.

ISB YLP Stage 2 Essay Topic 2021 (Tentative*)

The topic for ISB YLP Stage 2 could be “What’s the first and foremost thing you would like to improve in yourself? How do you plan to do it? (300 words)”

Oh the dreaded weakness question is here. Why would the adcom be interested in exploring your weakness? After all you have been a success story throughout your college.

No matter how successful you are, there is always something that you can do better. This essay is the place where you talk about that ‘something’. Writing this essay requires a great degree of introspection. The biggest challenge with college students is that they have limited professional experience, apart from internships.

Analysis of the ISB YLP Stage 2 Essay

You need to keep the following things in mind while you write the ISB YLP stage 2 essay:

Gap Identification:

Knowing what you want to improve is the first step of improving something. This is the introspection part, which is the hardest step in the essay writing process. When we work with candidates, we give them the framework to structure their thoughts about their skills, gaps and strengths.

The good thing is that you can improve on your ability to critically reflect your past and come up with a blueprint of your personal and professional career streak. It is important that you realise you don’t write about the skills or gaps you can improve without the ISB PGP program.

Linking it to your goals

Your improvement should be able to contribute to your goal. MBA adcoms absolutely love candidates who have clarity on their goals. You don’t need to set the long term goal yet for ISB YLP but for the short term, you are expected to be clear.

Building on your stage 1 essay:

Your essay from stage 1 should align with your stage 2 isb essay. Most of the candidates fail to weave a coherent story in their essays and go vague or oblique. In stage 1 ISB wanted to know “Describe an event or accomplishment that became a turning point in your life? How did it change your perspective about yourself and others?”

You can’t go back and change it now in stage 2, so the consistency of your point of view would be important while you write your essay for stage 2.

STEPVUE consultation for ISB YLP Essay

If you’re looking for professional help in your ISB YLP journey, we would be happy to talk to you. You can schedule an appointment with us and we will get back to you to discuss your prospects for ISB YLP stage 2.

Remember, it is better to have company in your journey than doing it all alone 🙂

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Abhijeet Singh
Abhijeet is the Founder & CEO at STEPVUE. He is a heady mix of ambition, sarcasm, sports and something more. Ex: GAIL India Limited (Brand Marketing), RSM MBA and DTU
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