Perspectives from ISB

In the ISB PGP application pool, we get a large number of re-applicants who have unsuccessfully applied to ISB once or more before. This is a key demographic for us and we value these candidates greatly, simply because they persevere when others in similar situations don’t.

There may be several reasons for not making it through ISB’s admissions process in the first attempt. Many may have applied in the previous year even though they had not spent enough time to build and present their most compelling argument. Or they may not have done sufficient homework to understand what the school looks for in prospective candidates. Perhaps they may not have been ready for business education at that time, and that came through in their application or interview. It is even possible (and is often the case) that they may have done everything right and submitted a great application, but may not have made the cut in a very competitive application pool. Whatever the reason, a candidate’s unsuccessful attempt can sometimes discourages him/her from reapplying to ISB next year, and may even lead to dropping the idea of going to B-school altogether. For those who do reapply, however, not getting an acceptance letter from ISB becomes a source of motivation to improve themselves, find out what needs to be done to make it next year, and then put in the necessary effort to get that letter. These are the candidates we seek.

So if you are keen on making it to ISB and have decided to reapply in spite of being unsuccessful previously, here are some of the things you can do to improve your chances this year:

  1. Identify what was lacking – Ideally, you did this exercise soon after learning that you did not get an offer of admission. While we may not provide point by point feedback, when you request for a feedback on your application, we do give detailed pointers on how to prepare a good application. For those who have been interviewed, it would be a good idea to work on presenting oneself better at interviews. We will try and provide inputs to everyone who seeks them, but sometimes it may not be possible to respond to all requests. Even then, share your application with friends, alumni, colleagues, mentors, admissions experts, etc. and figure out where you need to improve.
  2. Figure out your purpose – If your previous attempt failed to make a convincing argument, it could be because you yourself were not very clear about why you needed to go to B-school. Ask yourself, should you go to B-school? The answer might provide the clarity, direction and conviction you need.
  3. Showcase your strengths – By now, you must have realised that ISB focuses on applicants’ strengths rather than weaknesses. Strengths demonstrate to us that you are capable of becoming very good at things you take up (or at least, some of the things). So understand your strengths and differentiators, highlight them in your essays, and present your case better the next time.
  4. Be honest about your weaknesses – This is related to the previous point. While we focus on strengths, we also acknowledge that all our applicants have some areas where they need to improve. If not, why would they even need to come to B-school? In fact, you will notice from our online application portal that we do not ask about candidates’ weakness anywhere in the application. So do not be unnecessarily nervous about any weakness. Instead, understand it, figure out how ISB can help you address it, and communicate that to us clearly. If there are areas where you have proactively taken steps to overcome a weakness, we’d love to hear about them and also the results of such actions.
  5. Focus on improvement made since your last application – This is something that we do not compromise on. Once you have applied to ISB but not made it, you know that there is work to be done. You need to show us how much effort you have put in over the last year to improve yourself and what results you have achieved. In fact, there is one full essay dedicated only to this, and it is mandatory for reapplicants. You should also highlight any awards and achievements received. We will be looking at all this in the context of your previous application.
  6. Finally, prepare and present a strong case for why you should be part of the next PGP class. I have blogged in detail about several different aspects of the application procedure, so you have a great amount of information available at your fingertips. You can get started here.

In conclusion, my advice to you is this: If you have applied to ISB PGP before and not made it, do not lose heart. It is an opportunity to demonstrate perseverance and a never-say-die attitude. We value those candidates who can show tenacity and stay in the game long enough to succeed. So understand your strengths and weaknesses, put in the necessary effort to make critical changes, and be smart about putting your best foot forward. In fact, this is exactly what will be expected of you when doing business in the real world too.

All the best!

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