“The path from dreams to reality does exist. May you have the vision to find it, the courage to get onto it, and the perseverance to follow it.”

-Kalpana Chawla

These words epitomize my journey to ISB. I made it in my third attempt and this time, with a full merit-based tuition waiver.

I first applied to the ISB, in Cycle 1 of the 2012 admissions, as a naive research guy with no more than 1.5 years of work experience but a lot of innovative ideas with regards to business research. I had just moved into the social sector, my real calling. I was put in the wait-list only to be eventually rejected. The feedback I received from team admissions, made it clear that I needed to have more work experience and settle into my new sector for my leadership potential and real personality to emerge – a feeling I shared upon deep self-introspection.

Contemplating that now enough water had passed under the bridge in terms of work experience, I re-applied to the School in Cycle 2 of the admissions cycle of 2013. This time, I was rather optimistic as I thought I had an understanding of how the admissions process worked. But, I did not even get through to the interview stage. I think I must have tried too hard to show my professional qualities and achievements, and that deviated me from my natural self and true motivation behind applying to ISB.

I took the feedback given to me, seriously; but also found the core issue that was being a hurdle in my application process. I was trying to fit in to what I thought was their idea of an ideal PGP student; during which I lost my focus. Realizing that this is a bump, like in all great journeys, I stayed on course, tenaciously.  I continued to innovate at my work place and grow in my scope of work, while trying to comprehend my true self, simultaneously. From operational and financial aspects of social projects, to consulting based on Indian mythology, and eventually social venture capital for my foundation, I did it all, without giving up on my goal to get into the ISB.

A meeting with the Admissions team at an info session in Mumbai, instilled confidence in me. It made me comprehend the fact that from Cycle 2 last year to Cycle 1 this year is not too short a time. After all, it is the qualitative change that matters on the re-application. So, in 2014 – I applied in Cycle 1, with great zeal. I went through the entire application process once again. Conveying my motivation and highlighting what drives me to keep holding on seems to have worked for me. I presented my complete story in my essays, the way it really was.

My patience and hard work finally paid off, and it overwhelms me even as I write to you all, for – I set out to receive an ISB admit, alongside which I was offered an unexpected scholarship – a full tuition fee waiver that is offered to Cycle 1 applicants on merit basis. Honestly, I was not even aware of such a scholarship until it was being offered to me.

I take pride in narrating my journey as it has been a fantastic learning experience on both – personal and professional levels. To sum it up, I’d like to quote Constantine P. Cavafy,

“As you set out for Ithaka
hope the voyage is a long one,
full of adventure, full of discovery.
Laistrygonians and Cyclops,
angry Poseidon—don’t be afraid of them:
you’ll never find things like that on your way
as long as you keep your thoughts raised high,
as long as a rare excitement
stirs your spirit and your body.”

I wish you all the best for your journey, and to all the re-applicants out there – do not lose hope.

-Yash Agrawal, Class of 2016