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AI And Your College Application Essay

college essay college essay topics essay Oct 21, 2023

AI tools like ChatGPT disrupt educational norms, including the college application essay. A simple prompt typed into ChatGPT can instantaneously produce humanlike content across broad subjects. While educators grapple with handling this new technology, you should know its impact and implications as you prepare to write your college application essay.

AI Policies and Detection Protocols

While colleges and universities develop their AI policies and invest in AI detection software, educators at all academic levels recognize its inevitable use by students. Some believe AI can enhance rather than impede learning, but there is no widespread agreement about the appropriate use of AI by college students.

If you’re considering using AI to create your college essay, learning your target institutions’ existing AI policies and their use of AI detection software is important. Along with ChatGPT, its creator, OpenAI, developed one of several tools to help educators differentiate between AI-generated and human-written text.

While using AI content verbatim is plagiaristic and academically dishonest, there are non-plagiaristic uses that can be helpful and time-saving in developing a college essay. If you’re wondering what non-plagiaristic uses of AI are, here are a few suggestions:

Generating or Refining an Essay Topic ChatGPT can expand on your vague ideas for an essay topic by producing a list of related suggestions. Not only can this electronic brainstorming save you time, but it can also offer ideas you might not have otherwise considered.

Organizing Thoughts Once you’ve decided on your topic, ChatGPT can break your ideas into essay sections and create an outline to help jumpstart the writing process.

Providing Useful Suggestions and Other Information ChatGPT can suggest relevant thought leaders and other information to enhance your essay. It can also tell you where to access additional information by referencing websites, databases, and other resources. Proofreading Your Content Like Grammarly (another AI tool), ChatGPT can check your spelling, punctuation, and grammar. If you ask, it will also explain why your grammar, punctuation, or spelling is incorrect.

Bypassing Writer's Block If you find yourself staring at an empty computer screen, or you’ve written an awkward sentence and are unsure how to rephrase it, you can ask ChatGPT to create or reword specific content. You can then edit the suggestion to reflect your writing style.

While ChatGPT can help with several aspects of developing your college essay, it is important to realize its limitations. Here are some important facts to consider:

ChatGPT Can Provide False and Outdated Information ChatGPT content was produced through September 2021, so it is not the most updated resource. It does not scan the web for new information and has been known to state inaccuracies. ChatGPT has also raised concerns about confidentiality, ethics, bias, and discrimination, so users beware.

ChatGPT is a Breeding Ground for Plagiarism Chat CPT acquires new content from every single user. Chances are high that it will reuse content from one person’s essay elsewhere. With improving detection devices, opportunities both for plagiarism and detection are ever-expanding.

ChatGPT Can’t Articulate Emotion You can prompt ChatGPT to write about your passion for a particular field of study or your exuberance, charging past an impenetrable goalie to win a soccer game. But don’t expect ChatGPT to express your euphoria. It may offer flowery adjectives without replicating your authentic experience. The results are often cliché and flat.

ChatGPT Can’t “Think” ChatGPT can’t expand an original thought. It generates existing information to fill in the blanks of your queries. It cannot differentiate, evaluate, or advise what content would make the strongest point in your essay. Also, its simplistic language can reduce your clever wit to a watered-down version of your ideas.

ChatGPT Produced Mediocre Reactions Business Insider and Forbes independently asked college admission readers to critique ChatGPT-generated college application essays.

The readers agreed the essays could pass as actual student work (without AI detection software), but the essays were rated “mediocre” and considered middle school-level quality.

While AI can deliver an entire essay in nanoseconds, it can never replicate your unique voice, articulate your heart, or express your intellect. Writing, rewriting, and editing your college application essay may be tedious, but creating a cogent, well-written essay is more likely to impress readers, and it will help you develop lifelong skills whether the internet is firing away or temporarily out of service.


Photo by Andrew Neel:

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