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What to do if you are waitlisted by ISB?

Firstly, well done and hard luck! You were very close to securing the elusive Indian School of Business (ISB) PGP admit, but missed out by a whisker. A few parallels would be <Spoiler Alert!>

  • Rocky (1976), Rocky Balboa (2006)

  • Ted Lasso Season 1

However, the decision is not final and your story is not over yet.

What does being “Waitlisted” by ISB mean?

Basically, you were really close to ISB’s ‘internal weighted average cut-off’.

Wait, what? There is a cut-off and a score? Weights?

Before this sets off any further alarm bells, this is not a publicly available score, it will never be disclosed and in all probability, the ISB Adcom will have a better name for this.

For simplicity, let us call this the “secret score”.

Let’s go step by step. Your secret score (and as a result, ISB admit) is heavily defined by 5 broad factors

  • GMAT Score

  • Academics (UG College, GPA etc.)

  • Work Experience (quantum, company, role etc.) & Letter of recommendation (LOR form)

  • Essays, Extra-curricular activities, Awards & Achievements

  • Interview

Note: Don't assume the weightages of these 5 factors. Avoid making assumptions of your own candidature on these lines.

As mentioned by the ISB Adcom, in one of their Insta-live sessions (hence you probably will not find this information of the internet), if a candidate’s cumulative weighted average score (secret score for us) exceeds the cut-off (secret again), they get the ISB PGP admit.

As a parallel, Waitlisted (“WL”) candidates were just below this secret cut-off, and similarly “Rejected” candidates were further below the Waitlisted candidates scores.

Okay, understood! But what are my chances?

ISB does not publish any data on waitlist conversion, nor is there any credible public source that tell us the % of candidates that get converted post waitlist. If there is one thing our ISB PGP taught us, it’s the axiom “It depends”. Simply put, not all waitlisted candidates have the same chances.

An allocated seat will go empty when a candidate who received an admit, does not pay the admission fee. Continuing with our secret score concept, logically, the WL candidate with the highest secret score will get allocated the first freed up seat; and so on.

Now, unfortunately, your position is NOT KNOWN. So,

  • Nobody has the answer to what are YOUR chances of converting WL to admit

  • Even if the conversion was X%, this statistic is meaningless as the waiting list is actually a queue where your position is not known

If you are waitlisted, we understand your pain, but any statistic / data point you come across surrounding waitlists will only provide a false short-term comfort. A 20% will make you hopeful and a 5% would increase your anxiousness (coupled with hope) and whatever your final result is, will merely by a self-fulfilling prophecy.

At Preppie we have a saying, “Statistics look good on paper but reality is binary”

Do Round 1, Round 2, Round 3 have separate waitlists?

No, the Indian School of Business has 1 combined waitlist for its PGP.

If you’re a Round 1/2 candidate, the wait is going to be longer as WL conversion emails are typically sent at the end of Round 3.

The wait is cruel and brings two contrasting feelings – hope and anxiousness!

Historically, there has been more than 1 batch of WL conversions. For example, Week 1 has a bunch of "Waitlist converted to Admit" emails sent out and basis the fill rate of the empty seats, a new bunch of emails might be sent in Week 3/4.

So if you come to know of other WL folks getting an admit, do not panic. Your only source of true information is the final email from the ISB Adcom.

Quoting Rocky Balboa (you can probably sense a pattern here), “It ain’t over until it’s over

What can I do?

In the ISB admit context, not much. You’ll have to wait it out.

In the MBA context, depending on which Round you applied, you may choose to apply to other B-Schools in India / abroad.

In the Professional context, you can continue upskilling yourself in the direction of your short-term and long-term goals. Taking up courses, side-projects, indulging in your extra-curricular activities will reap benefits in the long run, irrespective.

There is light at the end of this tunnel

As ISB alums, a few things the folks at Preppie can assure you are:

  • Waitlisted candidates are in no-way inferior / not-good-enough as compared to other candidates

    • No one talks about these labels at ISB, ever

    • It does not affect your placements / shortlists / social life

  • If you don’t make it, your journey has only begun

    • You will achieve your goals, with / without an MBA / ISB degree

    • Re-applying is always an option, ISB does not discriminate re-applicants

      • Make sure you assess the 5 Factors of admission (preferably with experts) and identify areas of improvement

      • Pro-tip: Essays, GMAT and Interviews are in your power of control, the rest is history

We’re here to help, sign up for a Free Consultation if you want to talk it out, strategize for the road-ahead or have a judgement-free opinion!

You can also read this heartfelt blogpost (page “Namesarelabels” by Laxmi Nayak) about the Waitlist journey of an ISB student.

Lots of Love,

The folks at Preppie


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