ISB Young Leaders Programme (YLP) Overview and Stage 2 Essay Analysis 2020

Are you one of those students who want to define their career trajectory during college itself? Do you know you can secure admission at one of the top b-schools in the world with no work experience?

If yes, then the Young Leaders Program (YLP) at the Indian School of Business (ISB) is your best bet in India. In this article, we will have a brief overview of the ISB YLP and the tips on writing the ISB YLP Stage 2 essay 2020 (Class of 2021).

ISB YLP: Overview

ISB’s YLP is one of the three ways one can get admission to its Post-Graduate Programme (PGP) in Management. 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.

How does the ISB YLP work?

The program was introduced in 2012 and is a great fit for students across all educational backgrounds. Students who are in the pre-final year of their undergraduate or post-graduate degree programs can apply for the YLP and once admitted, they go through a mix of online learning modules and on-campus weekend sessions where they get to interact with the faculty, current students and alumni which gives them a fair idea of the program they’d get into ~2 years later.

The YLP eventually immerses into the PGP when the students complete 20 months of full-time experience. This program works on the similar lines as Harvard Business School’s 2+2 program, Booth Scholars Program, etc.

Difference between students admitted through ISB YLP and regular / EEO?

The only difference between the two is in terms of the application procedure. As soon as the students complete the full-time work-ex requirements, they become part of the regular PGP intake. Post that, all admitted students go through the same courses, get taught by the same faculty, etc.

The only advantage ISB YLP gives you is that the students secure their admissions to the PGP ~2 years in advance and can choose to start their careers in the desired sectors.

What does ISB look for in a YLP candidate?

ISB looks for the following qualities in your YLP application and candidature:

  • Academic and analytical prowess
  • Leadership potential
  • Extra-curricular activities
  • Personal attributes

ISB assesses the overall package you bring to the table. The bar is set very high since ISB is offering a secured seat in its flagship program two years in advance. Hence, you’ve got to demonstrate that high-performance streak throughout academics (high GPA), analytical prowess (700+ on GMAT), extra-curricular (led initiatives, state/national level achievements), etc.

ISB YLP Application Process

The application process is divided into 3 stages:

  • Stage 1: Application form with one essay and fee (deadline: 25 Mar 2020). The results were out on 5th May 2020
  • Stage 2: GMAT/GRE score, one essay and a recommendation (deadline: 31 August 2020)
  • Stage 3: Interviews with shortlisted candidates (between 15th September 2020 and 10th November 2020). Results due by 15th November 2020

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, 2020. In addition to preparing for GMAT / GRE, the shortlisted candidates should’ve started working on the essay and recommendation by now.

ISB YLP Stage 2 Essay Topic 2020 (Class of 2021)

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

Writing this essay would require a lot of introspection and regardless of the outcome of the application, you would come out knowing yourself better. What makes it trickier is the fact that you have not seen the professional world outside your classroom, a short internship or the initial couple of months in case you have started working after your final year exams.

How to Write the ISB YLP Stage 2 Essay

Here are the things to keep in mind while writing this essay:

Identification of the Skill:

This is the first step in the process (obviously!). The skill or trait can be personal or professional and it should be a manifestation of the experiences (academics, internships, projects, etc.) you’ve had so far. Those experiences should’ve led you to believe that this is the primary thing you’d like to improve upon. Do not have functional gaps such as accounting, statistics, etc. there since these can easily be accomplished without the program

Alignment to short and long-term goals:

Whether you are a pre-final or final year student, the improvement plan should link with your immediate and slightly longer-term aspirations. Otherwise this would seem like a generic trait that you’d like to improve but to what effect?

How would ISB help?:

Although the question doesn’t specifically ask you how would ISB help improve the trait, fitting the YLP + PGP combination in the plan would be a good idea to demonstrate your research of the programs and would also give an impression that you have an end-to-end plan along with the enablers

Link it to stage 1 essay:

Your stage 2 essay should naturally flow from the stage 1 essay topic “Describe an event or accomplishment that became a turning point in your life? How did it change your perspective about yourself and others?”
The adcom would have access to your previous submission and contradicting the narrative from the stage 1 essay would be detrimental to your chances.

Art of storytelling:

Amidst trying to fit in everything above, do not forget that the essay should be an interesting read for the adcom. Be sure to articulate your experiences and examples in a fashion that grabs the adcom’s attention!

Hope this helped you to get a good overview of the program if you’re new to it or get rich insights on how to approach the stage 2 essay if you’ve cleared stage 1.

Author Bio:

Manan Puri - MBA Admissions Consultant

Manan Puri (ISB Class of 2013) is the Co-founder of S4G (, a premium b-school admissions and GMAT strategy consulting firm. With alumni from the top b-schools across the globe, S4G guides b-school applicants through the end-to-end journey, from GMAT to the final admit.


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Featured Image Source: ISB

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