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Expert advice for ISB from Admissions Consultant blogs

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Joined: 23 Mar 2014
Posts: 1001
Expert advice for ISB from Admissions Consultant blogs  [#permalink]

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New post 30 May 2018, 18:05

Poonam, founder and president of myEssayReview, is publishing interviews of her recent successful students as well as first year and second year students.  This is the latest in the series. Here is a chat with Arjun, who was accepted into 2 top MBA programs– ISB and Oxford Said. Arjun decided in favor of Oxford Said Business School.

In a video interview with Poonam, Arjun talks about his background, career aspirations, application strategy, challenges during the application process, and his ‘fit ‘with the Oxford Said MBA program.

Arjun has 10 years of professional experience, so he also shares his insights on the chances of older candidates for MBA programs.

Here is the transcript of Arjun’s interview ….

Poonam: Congratulations on admit offers from 2 good programs- ISB and Oxford, Said. How does it feel?

Arjun: Thank you, Poonam. It feels great when all the effort that you have put in finally takes a shape and you are recognized. It has been a long process, and I am glad that everything finally paid off. This is going to be the beginning of a new chapter in my life. I am happy and excited and am looking forward to the challenge.

Poonam: Sure. Can you tell us a little about yourself? Where are you from? Where and what did you study as an undergrad? What do you do now?

Arjun: I am originally from Kolkata, India. I completed by Bachelor’s from West Bengal University of Technology with a specialization in Electrical Engineering. Post undergrad, I joined Tata Consultancy Services, and I have worked for it for 10 years. Out of those 10 years, I have worked for 4 years in Chennai, India and 6 years in the USA. I was based out in Indianapolis for the first few years and then in New Hampshire and Greater Boston area. As a Project Manager of a large-scale transformation project, I was managing a team of 20. Now I am back to India until I join the program.

Poonam: Good. When did you start thinking about MBA? Why now?

Arjun: MBA was on my mind for quite some time. People around me always told me that I should go into management, and I also felt that I will be able to do the kind of work that I want to if I pursue that path. But when you have a full-time job with a big responsibility of managing a team, it is not easy to balance work and study for GMAT. But I am glad that I made the decision, and I stuck to it. To be honest, the real inspiration is my wife. She has been the biggest force pushing me literally to take GMAT, helped me get into a study routine by taking care of several household activities. She supported and motivated me when I had low GMAT score and through this entire admission phase as well. I am grateful.

Why MBA now?  I know I have 10 years of work experience, which is considered higher than average experience when it comes to MBA. But I believe that there is no right age for an MBA. It all depends on when you are ready for it and what your post MBA career goals are. I think my international experience as well as my experience of managing and leading teams through crisis situations have taken me a step further and an MBA from here will empower me to be a global manager and allow me to shape the society around me in a way I want to.

Poonam:  What are your career goals?

Arjun: My career goals are in the lines of Product Management or Operations/Supply Chain Management. I am still trying to keep the options open, and if that doesn’t work, my second choice would be into management consulting.

Poonam: You were accepted into one European program –Oxford Said and one Indian Program ISB. After some deliberation, you finally chose Oxford. How is Oxford the best school for you? How are you a better fit for Oxford?

Arjun: Yes, choosing between Oxford and ISB was one of the hardest decisions of my life. Hands down, ISB is the best B-school in India whereas Oxford is one of the top European schools and is recognized across the globe. There were many factors that went into my decision making. First, Oxford has global Student Body whereas ISB will primarily have the Indian Student Body . So, I have more to gain from Oxford. Secondly, I will take pride in carrying the brand value of Oxford, not just MBA.

Moreover, the quality of education at ISB is no doubt very good, but I think Oxford is one step above and is the best school for me because my goals of transforming the society align very well with the goal of Said Business School. I am certain that by studying at Oxford and by interacting with such a diverse and global student body, I will be equipped with skills to take better decisions as a manager and lead a diverse international team. At the same time, I aim to continue my volunteering activities in a more organized way in my post MBA career and contribute to the society in a more significant manner.

Poonam: I remember you discussed the issue of global hunger and malnutrition in your essay about global problem.

Arjun: Yes, I did. Thank you for helping me shape that essay so well. Initially, I thought that this problem is prevalent in India only, but after having lived in the US, I realized how huge this problem is. I think we need to pay more attention to it. I was asked about the possible solution to this global issue in the Oxford interview, and I said that I feel concerned about the amount of wastage of food in restaurants and office campaigns, and we need to stop it.

Poonam: I agree .Could you please share your application strategy, planning and preparation with our readers?

Arjun: To begin with, I did my research and shortlisted 4-5 schools. I was concentrated only on 1-year programs, so I focused on European and Indian schools. Out of the 4 schools that I applied to, one was my dream school where I had a long shot and one I kept as a fall back option in worst case scenario.

I think it is very important to know and understand the essence of each school, why the school is best fit for me and how can I contribute to the school and its community. I read up all the information available in the school’s website, read student blogs, talked to current MBA students and a couple of alumni as well. These things helped me to understand the essence of the school.

Secondly, I had to self-introspect a lot to bring the best out of myself into the application. This is exactly where a great admission consultant guides you. It is important to showcase your strengths and at the same time acknowledge your weaknesses, choose your recommenders wisely and highlight all your significant achievements in a 1-page resume.

Lastly and most importantly, discipline is very important. Sometimes we get too emotional after failure, but we need to get going. I was very disciplined and never missed nay deadlines.

Poonam: Looking back, what was the most challenging aspect of the school admissions process? How did you approach that challenge and overcome it? What would you advise other MBA applicants who are facing similar challenges?

Arjun: For me, the most challenging aspect was how I fit into the school’s vision and how the school can empower me to fulfill my career goals. It took me some time and a lot of research to figure these two things out. So, I had to do a lot of ground work before I shortlisted my schools and started working on the application essays.

As I mentioned in my answer to the previous question, if you are applying to a particular school, you should reach out to at least one or two current students and alumni and it will help you understand if the school fits your criteria. I don’t think it is the right strategy to go only by rankings; instead visiting the campus on an open day, attending webinars or 1:1 meetings with the admission consultants really help you figure things out.

Poonam: True. I am sure it has been an arduous journey. What advice do you have for the prospective applicants to these schools?

Arjun: I think patience is the key here. It is really a long process. By the time you apply, you need to wait for a month or so to get the interview call, and if you are selected for the interview, you need to prepare for the interview, and once the interview is done, you probably need to wait for three weeks or so for the result. If you are not selected for the interview, then you wait for the result of the other school you applied to. I have a few key suggestions for the prospective applicants. First, if you are applying to 5 or 6 schools, then choose two schools where you just want to give a shot (dream schools), and choose 2 schools s where you think you can get in (reach schools). You should also have 1-2 backup schools (safe schools). Doing the ground work is very important.

Secondly, I remember you advised me that, and I also recommend that we should not rush to submit the application. Some of the essays may look very straightforward, but they are not. You really need to present yourself in the best possible way since there are thousands of applicants applying for a spot. You must present the best version of yourself. You might have a very strong profile with a stellar GMAT score, but if you are not able to present yourself in a right way and cannot show how you can contribute to the school, then you may not be able to make it. Regarding GMAT score, I would say that GMAT score is not the only criteria for admission. Sometimes people with low GMAT score think that a particular school is not for them. This is far from truth. I have seen people with a score of 650 get into Oxford, and some people with 740 score get rejected. GMAT, though very important, is just one aspect of the whole application process. Treat each part of the application with equal importance whether it is essay or the letter of recommendation or the resume. Resume is very important because most of the schools will ask for one-page resume, and showcasing the achievements and the extra-curricular activities in that one page is very critical. Your resume should be able to catch the attention of someone who is reading hundreds of resumes or applications.

Poonam: True. The focus should be on the achievements and the impact you have made on your organization.

Arjun: The other part is the application. For Oxford, there were very difficult question in the application. There were questions like what your career goals are, what have you done, what research have you done, what are you going to do before you join the program to improve your chances. I found them as difficult as essay questions. Although people just talk about essays and letters of recommendations, but you need to spend equal amount of time on the application form as well.

Poonam: I fully agree. Those questions in the application form were as good as full essays.

Arjun: Absolutely. Another thing that I would advise to the prospective applicants is that once you finish the application, just sleep on it for couple of weeks or days, think about what you have written, and then come back to it if you want to make a change. Do not rush to submit the application right after finishing it. Please give yourself sufficient amount of time. Read and re-read your essays, resume and other key parts of your application. Have a friend or your partner do a proof reading. The key is how you can stand out from the crowd. The school will read 200-300 applications in a day, so try to distinguish yourself from the rest by showing your achievements and extra-curricular activities in a way that it brings out the best version of yourself on paper. This waiting before submission gives you a fresh perspective to the whole application. Working with a great admission consultant and doing self-introspection really helps here.

Poonam: Very valuable advice. I am sure that the prospective applicants will benefit from this. Let us talk about something other than the application.  What are your favorite non-school books? What are your hobbies?

Arjun: To be honest, I am not much of an avid reader. My favorite book is Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini. That book left a deep impact on me.

I enjoy a variety of activities outside of my work and most of them stem from my love of exploration and familiarizing myself with different communities and cultures. As you are aware, I have been volunteering for a long time. As a CSR champion at TCS, I regularly volunteer in food banks and local thrift stores and participate in philanthropic causes of different kinds. As a member of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), I contribute to the well-being of rescued animals through donations, fundraising in my organization and raising awareness of animal cruelty. My passion for volunteering also brought me to Bangla-o-Biswa, a non-profit organization whose mission is to uphold the Indian culture and tradition in Boston, where I have served as the General Secretary since 2015. We are a team of 8, and we plan and organize 4-5 cultural events annually involving 500+ guests. I think it has been a very humbling experience of trying to make a difference to the community in my own small way.

I also have a great passion for photography and cinema. I participate in photo walks and am an avid movie follower. I have been exposed to the unique cultures of various nations, all through their cinema. I am more interested in the film-making process, and I consider myself as a student of cinema. I attended 3-4 film festivals when I was in the US.

At home, I like to bring my creative mind to the kitchen, where I try my hand at different cuisines. It works as a great stress buster and strengthens my bond with my family. I am also a part of the local soccer team in my town where we play regularly throughout the summer, another community bond that I greatly enjoy. I am a big fan of Manchester United and Leo Messi.

Poonam: Great! Is there anything else that I haven’t asked that you would like to share with the readers?

Arjun: There is one thing I will like to mention. Most people face a question about the right experience for an MBA? I was really concerned about my age when I was applying and researching for MBA. I have 10 years of work experience which is not an ideal experience for an MBA applicant. Now I can say that experience matters, but no school will reject you only because you have more number of years of experience than others have. I have seen people going to Oxford and INSEAD with 13 years of experience. It all depends on the different aspects of your profile, your work experience, what you have done in those years, and how you can bring all that on paper in your application and/or during your interview. There are people who have reached out to me asking if 33 or 35 is the right age or not. I tell them it doesn’t matter. All that matters is the quality of your experience and how you can bring that out in your application.

Poonam: True. Your story should make sense to the Ad Com. Ten or twelve years of experience should not discourage you from applying. If your story is effective and convincing, you can make it. Last year, I worked with a client who got into UNC with 15 years of work experience.

Arjun: Absolutely. There is no right age of doing an MBA. I cannot stress this fact enough.

Poonam: Thank you, Arjun for sharing your story with us. I am sure your feedback will be helpful to those who are new to the process.

Arjun: I would also like to take this opportunity to thank you for your valuable support with my essays.

Poonam: It was my pleasure. Good luck on your Oxford experience and your post Oxford professional career. I hope you have a great time at Oxford.
Link to Video Interview with Arjun:
This interview was first published in myEssayReview blog.
myEssayReview has helped many applicants get into top MBA programs including Oxford and ISB.

For questions, email Poonam at">

Web /Blog/ Free resources/LinkedIn/ Facebook


















You can connect with Arjun via LinkedIn:

This interview was first published in myEssayReview blog.

myEssayReview has helped many applicants get into top MBA programs including Oxford and ISB.

For questions, email Poonam at">

Web /Blog/ Free resources/LinkedIn/ Facebook
Joined: 23 Mar 2014
Posts: 1001
Re: Expert advice for ISB from Admissions Consultant blogs  [#permalink]

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New post 11 Sep 2018, 18:30

The Indian School of Business PGP program is the best choice for MBA applicants who want to build or advance their careers in India.

“Whether you are looking for a career-switch or a career progression, or to start an entrepreneurial venture, the Post Graduate Programme (PGP) in Management will help you achieve your career goals. The one-year global management program will embark you on a transformational journey.”

Each applicant to the Post Graduate Programme in Management at the Indian School of Business is holistically evaluated on the following parameters:
  • Academic Credentials
  • Leadership Potential
  • Personal Attributes
ISB Application Deadlines:

Cycle 1
Application Deadline:              September 15, 2018
Final Offer Decision:                November, 2018

Cycle 2
Application Deadline:              December 15, 2018
Final Offer Decision:                February, 2019

Acceptance Date: 10 days from the date of offer.

Advantages of applying in Cycle 1:
  • Full tuition fee waivers will be offered only to Cycle 1 applicants
  • 50% of all merit and need-based waivers will be offered to Cycle 1 applicants
Non-Indian Origin Applicants

To enable non-Indian origin applicants to complete their Visa formalities in time, we follow a rolling evaluation process for them. Their application is evaluated, and their admission decision is communicated within six weeks of receiving the completed application.

The essay questions of the PGP program of The Indian School of Business have been changed for the admission cycle of 2018-19. Like last year, this year’s applicants will write the two required questions. However, the word limit of essay 1 has been reduced from 500 words to 400 words. Hence instead of 800 words, this year’s ISB applicants will have only 700 words to showcase their candidacy to the Ad Com. ISB no longer provides an option to write optional essay. However, applicants have space on the Education page of the application to explain any gaps during their education.

Note that ISB’s online application will not accept even one word over the limit of either of its essays.

With significant self- reflection, careful planning, and preparation, you can present an impressive and convincing picture of your candidacy as well as your fit with the school.

Let’s take a closer look at the essay questions:
Essay 1: At ISB we value diversity as it enhances both the in-class and out of class learning experience. Tell us how would you contribute to the same? (400 words max)

This question is a little different from last year’s question. Instead of asking what distinguishes the applicants from others (personally and professionally) this question specifically asks them what they will contribute to the learning experience of their class mates in and outside the classroom, and how they will add to the diversity of the classroom. The topic is similar to last year’s essay topic in essence as you have to showcase your best self, your well- rounded personality in order for the ISB admission committee to admit you.

Showcase your uniqueness in Different Areas: To paint a cohesive and strong picture of you as a candidate, focus on your unique attributes (personal and professional), provide examples of how you have demonstrated them in the past, and what you would bring to the ISB. The ‘how’ part of your story/accomplishment is as important as the ‘what’ part.

At ISB, you will be competing with the traditional IT applicant pool, so in the professional realm, you can showcase your ability to face challenges in other roles e.g. your adaptability to changes in the global world, your talent to convince others of executing your innovative ideas, your courage to take calculated risks that yielded results, and so on. If you are from a different industry, you will bring to the table your deep knowledge and experience of your industry. After explaining your unique professional attribute/skill, illustrate it by an example explaining how you have demonstrated it at work, and then explain how you will add value to the ISB through your contribution in classroom discussions or your participation in student led clubs or organizations.

When discussing personal attributes, think of your special talents. Pick one extracurricular activity i.e. sports, music, dance, painting, writing or any interest/ hobby that you are passionate about and have enjoyed pursuing. Share your achievements in that area and explain how you will enrich the experience of your class mates by getting involved in a club or student led organization at the ISB , leaving it a better place. Please note that it is important to support your claims about your potential contribution to specific clubs and organizations by specific examples from your past experiences, personal or professional, in the given area. To demonstrate your ‘fit’ with the program, you must showcase what you have done in the past and how you are going to be a strong contributor to ISB.

To craft an effective response, you should have a thorough understanding of the school’s resources (curriculum, faculty, clubs, organizations, and student led activities). You should also reach out to alumni and current students to get additional insights about the school’s resources and culture.

Lastly, and most importantly, be as precise as you can in presenting your stories. With 400 maximum words allowed, you can allot approximately 150-200 words to detailing your unique attributes illustrated by your accomplishments (mainly leadership stories) and approximately 200-250 words to explaining what value you will add to the ISB.
Essay 2: Enrolling in a Business School is an important career decision. Critically look at your career to date, the choices you have made, the key influences behind those choices, your goals for the future and how do you think ISB's PGP can help you in achieving your goals? (300 words max)
There is a slight change in this year’s goals essay question. That is, in addition to asking career goals and how ISB will help you achieving your goals, it also asks about applicants’ career history and the choices they have made in their career.

This is a straightforward goals essay that requires you to make a logical connection between your past, present, and future. This means your story should connect your past (work-experience, skills), present (your need of an MBA from ISB to achieve your goals), and your future (goals and objectives).

Begin your essay with a brief career history and provide details about how you have pursued your career, acquired new skills and progressed along your career path all these years (2-3 sentences). Provide your rationale behind the career choices you have made. Then go on to describe why you believe that an MBA is the next logical step in your career path NOW? What are those skills that you still lack which you hope to acquire by an MBA? How an MBA will fill the gaps in your career?

Then explain your post MBA and long-term goals. Please make sure to demonstrate a logical connection between your short-term and long-term goals. In other words, explain how you will move from step 1 to step 2 and so on. Make sure that your goals are realistic as well as ambitious. That is, if you aim for a technology or a consulting role, you’ll need to demonstrate that you already possess some skills/experience in that area and are now aiming to enhance those skills. Likewise, if you are a career changer, you should provide evidence as to how your current skill set would facilitate this transition.

Once you have elaborated your goals, explain how an MBA from ISB is your best bet at this time? How it will help you achieve your goals? Please make sure to have a thorough knowledge of PGP program of ISB so you can demonstrate how its resources (curriculum, faculty, clubs, student communities etc.) are aligned with your goals and will bring you closer to your dreams.

Since you have only 300 words to discuss your career history, your career goals and their link to the PGP program of ISB, you need to be extremely precise in presenting your case and make every word count.

Note that ISB’s online application will not accept even one word over the limit of its essays.

You may organize your essay in the following way:
  • Brief career history (approximately 80-90 words)
  • Short term Long term goals (approximately 90-100 words)
  • Connection between ISB’s resources and your goals (approximately100-120 words)
When choosing your stories for these two essays, make sure you maintain a balance between your professional and personal stories that showcases your well-rounded candidacy.

To further help you in developing your application essays, you may review the general Essay Tips.
For Essay Analysis of Other Schools by MER, click here.
Since 2011, MER (myEssayReview) is committed to helping applicants get accepted into top 20 MBA, programs, including ISB.
Interviews of ISB Admits :

Previous years’ ISB essay questions analysis:

ISB Essay Questions Analysis 2017-18

ISB Essay Questions Analysis -2016-17

ISB Essay Questions Analysis -2015-16

ISB Essay Questions Analysis -2014-15

ISB Essay Questions Analysis -2013-14

Want to discuss? Email Poonam at">

Web /Blog/ Free resources/LinkedIn/Facebook/

 This article was first published in myEssayReview  blog.



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Re: Expert advice for ISB from Admissions Consultant blogs   [#permalink] 11 Sep 2018, 18:30
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