Indian School of Business 2014 MBA Essay Tips & Deadlines

Indian School of Business campus in Hyderabad

Indian School of Business campus in Hyderabad

The Indian School of Business has become one of the strongest graduate business programs in Asia. While it dropped from 20th to 34th in this year’s Financial Times’ Global MBA rankings – making it only the fifth best MBA program in Asia – 100% of its graduates secure job offers within 3 months of graduating and salary increases for graduates are still 152% over their pre-MBA pay! Competition for seats in this esteemed 1-year program is intense and the admissions process is highly competitive for native Indians. Here are ISB’s essay questions and my advice for how to answer them (in blue).


1. Attitude, skills and knowledge differentiate people. Elaborate with two examples on how you would differentiate yourself from other applicants to the PGP. (300 words max)

To answer this well, you need to know what makes you special. Think about who you are and perhaps even ask your friends and mentors for input to gain some perspective. ISB recently revealed in a summary of Myth Busters that it is looking for applicants with a “thirst for knowledge, involvement in professional and personal pursuits, willingness to learn and eagerness to contribute, well balanced personality with thought-provoking ideas and ability to challenge status quo,” so think about examples of these in your own background.

Once you have selected the two qualities you wish to highlight, make them come alive by sharing examples  and/or evidence of them. While you certainly can split this essay into two 150-word sections of each quality, you do not have to be so even-handed: if one differentiating factor needs more space or just is more interesting, it’s worth giving it more room.

2. How does the ISB PGP tie-in with your career goals? (300 words max)

ISB’s Admissions Director has listed “Clarity of thought in terms of career aspirations and goals” as one of the three most important qualities sought in the ISB application essays. This goals essay is your opportunity to show that you possess that clarity. You must begin by explaining your goals. Keep in mind that these goals must “make sense” and stem in some way from your past. If entrepreneurship is in your future, it should really appear in your past as well. If you aim for a technology or consulting role, you’ll need to demonstrate that you know what qualities you will need to succeed in these and bring some proof as to your readiness for this career. You do not need an exact map of your future, but you do need to reveal a thought process, reasoning, and evidence of your ability to reach your goals through the ISB program. Highlight in this essay what makes ISB the perfect stepping stone to those goals. 

3. Pick the most significant achievement (professional or personal) you have had and elaborate on the key learning you took away from it. (300 words max)

ISB is looking for leadership potential in its applicants, the ability to take responsibility then collaborate with, motivate and drive others to produce results. This essay is a perfect opportunity to demonstrate that you have these skills. An ideal achievement essay will show the obstacles that were in your way and how you used creativity, interpersonal skills, and intellect to surpass them and make an impact.

Optional Essay:

Please provide additional information, if any, that will significantly affect the consideration of your application to the ISB. (300 words max)

The open-ended nature of this question causes infinite hand-wringing, but it should really be viewed as a gift: here is your opportunity to share whatever makes you special. This could be from your work, community service, education, or travels. Don’t make the mistake of just listing an experience or award that is mentioned elsewhere in the application form. Instead, use this space to share why the experience was meaningful, what you gained from it, how you grew, and why you are better prepared for ISB and your future career or leadership as a result.

If you would like professional guidance with your Indian School of Business application, please consider Accepted’s MBA essay editing and MBA admissions consulting or our  MBA Application Packages, which include advising, editing, interview coaching, and a resume edit for the ISB application.

ISB 2014 MBA Application Deadlines:

International applicants (Non Indian Passport Holders) to the Indian School of Business (ISB) have a rolling application process. If you are shortlisted, you are likely to be interviewed within one month of submission of a complete application. However, in exceptional situations it might take more than a month. You will be informed about the decision within three weeks from the date of the interview.

As an international candidate, you might need additional time to arrange for visas, housing and financial aid, and to work on their English Language proficiency if necessary. Hence, you are encouraged to apply early.

Application for PGP 2014-15 is now open. It will close on January 15, 2014.

Application Deadline for Early Entry Option candidates is January 15, 2014. Offers will be made on March 31, 2014.

Jennifer Bloom By who has been helping applicants to the top MBA programs draft their resumes, application forms, letters of recommendation, and essays for 14 years. She is happy to serve as your personal coach and hand-holder throughout the entire process. There’s no time like the present to begin!

Lies, Darned Lies, and Misleading Statistics: Duke Fuqua’s Early Action

Kisses of Death

Duke Early Admissions: The “Kiss of Death”?

GMAT Club is a wonderful forum for insights into MBA admissions: it offers discussions, interviews, surveys, and expert feedback for all aspiring MBAs. One unique element of GMAT Club is its Calling All Applicants features in which current applicants can share their major data points – the deadline to which they applied, their GMAT scores, GPAs, months of work experience, etc. – to provide statistical insight into their application results. Unfortunately, only a small portion of applicants do provide their data, so the results may not be representative of the actual applicant pool and may even be skewed. It’s also self-reported and anonymous data, which implies that a grain of salt may be advisable.

For example, GMAT Club’s Calling All Applicants for the Duke Fuqua MBA program, generated misleading conclusions. From the data that applicants shared, it appeared as if Duke’s early action deadline was – as one client called it – “the kiss of death,” with only a 12% acceptance rate, in contrast to the overall rate of 30%. An applicant looking only at that data would certainly be justified in eschewing Early Action to instead apply to Round 1.

When this applicant came to us with his concerns, we did what we recommend all applicants do: go straight to the source to clarify. A big shout out to Duke’s Director of Admissions Megan Overbay for letting us know that the GMAT Club data was indeed “a misleading sample”: in fact, says Overbay, Duke’s Early Action round has a “similar or slightly higher acceptance rate than the other rounds.”

So while Calling All Applicants unfortunately does not offer the insight that it would if indeed all applicants responded and all were accurate, I do love GMAT Club when I’m feeling like a real stalker! How fun is it to troll around and see the guy with the 770 GMAT who was rejected without interview from Duke and is attending Chicago Booth in the fall?! This is an example that tells the real truth about MBA admissions: that demonstrating fit is EVERYTHING! This analytical guy is probably a perfect fit for the Booth MBA class but did not emit the vibe of collaboration and dynamic influence that Duke is looking for (I’m guessing here; I don’t know anything else about the guy!).

Takeaway: When you see admissions data that doesn’t make sense – whether it’s on an online forum, in rankings, or anywhere else – go to a more reliable source for verification. For admissions data, that more reliable source usually is the MBA program in question.

Jennifer BloomAs an editor with Accepted for 14 years and a Certified Professional Resume Writer (CPRW),  has gained great experience in crafting CV’s and essays that truly differentiate applicants from the rest of the driven applicant pool. If you would like help with your applications, please consider Accepted’s editing services for both your CV and essay.

Stanford Reliance Dhirubhai Fellowship

Stanford GSBIndian students considering applying to the Stanford MBA program should check out the Reliance Dhirubhai Fellowship. The scholarship covers everything for up to 5 Indian students to attend Stanford GSB, and the top 50 finalists for the Fellowship will even receive a break on applying – submitting Stanford’s application for free. The Fellowship’s application process has already begun and registration will end on June 21st, so if you are considering applying to Stanford this year, be sure to complete the application soon.

Successful Fellowship applicants will need to demonstrate excellent academics and career progress plus a strong commitment to India’s development (financial need is also a factor). The Fellowship application is short, asking for educational history, test scores, employment history, a CV, financial information, and only one short essay of 250 words or less: “How do you aspire to shape your country’s future?”

Two-hundred and fifty words is not a lot of space, so I recommend that your past leadership experiences be detailed well in the CV to leave this brief essay solely to your vision for the future: In what areas do you aim to make the greatest headway? How do you plan to undertake that effort? What goals do you aspire to and how do you intend to help India reach them within the next 10 to 20 years?

Obviously, goals based upon previous experiences and involvement will strike the Fellowship’s review committee as the most authentic, so take the time to identify what areas of development are truly the most important in your eyes and share your passion through this essay. Once the top 50 finalists for the Fellowship are selected, they will proceed to complete the regular Stanford application.

Jennifer BloomAs an editor with Accepted for 14 years and a Certified Professional Resume Writer (CPRW),  has gained great experience in crafting CV’s and essays that truly differentiate applicants from the rest of the driven applicant pool. If you would like help with your Fellowship application, please consider Accepted’s editing services for both your CV and essay.

Brand vs. Fit in MBA Admissions (and Choosing Shorts)

FitMy Liz Claiborne shorts! How I loved them! I felt worth a million bucks when I bought them – on sale! – at Macy’s when I was in college. Liz Claiborne was usually out of my price range but the sale and a bit of a splurge made it possible, and I felt great!

But something shocking happened when I wore them. Someone whom I didn’t know and had never even seen before – okay, I admit I was in Israel for the summer, so it was an Israeli (a population not known for its subtlety) – literally stopped me on the street and told me I looked fat. Actually, two separate strangers told me that on two separate occasions.

After the second time, I threw out those Liz Claiborne shorts.

Why do I bring this up? Because last week one of my successful clients who earned a spot in two of the top 5 MBA programs in the world told me that she was not going to accept either offer. After visiting the programs, she just didn’t feel they matched her personality or career goals. She had gotten the “Liz Claiborne shorts” but also realized too late that they just didn’t fit right!

Now – months before the first application deadline – is the time to research programs and get a good sense what the students are like, what the recruiting picture is, and how these fit your own needs and personality. Talk to students and alumni, visit the campus once classes are in session, and scrutinize each program’s employment statistics. Only then will you ensure that you’ve gotten a good fit – and not just a good brand!

Jennifer Bloom By  who has been helping applicants to the top MBA programs draft their resumes, application forms, letters of recommendation, and essays for 14 years. She is happy to serve as your personal coach and hand-holder throughout the entire process. There’s no time like the present to begin!

Will Facebook Destroy Your Admissions Chances?

MBA Waitlist Chat

Never post any comments or pictures that you wouldn’t want everyone in the world to see.

When Kaplan Test Prep released the results of its survey of business school admissions officers, revealing that 32% of business school admissions officers performed internet searches on applicants, 27% visited an applicant’s social media (Facebook, Myspace, etc.) page, and 10% had found something online that negatively impacted an applicant’s admission chances, applicants around the world collectively shuddered. Not only do we have to consider every comma and turn of phrase in the applications themselves, now we have to worry about what we may have posted online in the past as well?! YES! Here are a few tips to consider when using Facebook given these stark statistics.

1. Make sure that your Facebook profile is for Friends only (and not open to Friends of Friends or Everyone), and also remember to check that you’ve selected this option for every picture that you post.

2. As a general rule, never post any comments or pictures that you wouldn’t want everyone in the world to see. That way no one of your closest 1300 friends who is offended by your post can simply take a screenshot of it for global dissemination. Think very hard before using Facebook as a forum to comment on a political matter, your satisfaction with your job, your affinity for a particular teacher or supervisor, etc. Go through now and delete any questionable posts.

3. Even if your Facebook profile is private and viewable only to Friends, you need to keep in mind that some things are viewable by anyone on Facebook: all of the data you’ve entered in Basic Information, the names of Groups you’re a member of, the pages you’ve Liked, all of the pictures you’ve saved as Profile or Cover Photos, and any pictures or comments you’ve posted to an open group. Be conservative in your Group memberships and contributions to open groups, and delete any cover or profile photos that you don’t want in your application file.

Jennifer Bloom  has been successfully helping applicants demonstrate their readiness for the top MBA programs around the world for 14 years.