Artificial intelligence (AI) has disrupted the world of college admissions essays, leaving students and educators grappling with its implications. There are three main attitudes toward AI in this context: anxious uncertainty, existential dread, and simple pragmatism. As generative AI tools like ChatGPT become accessible to students, they can now complete essay assignments in minutes, producing grammatically impeccable but often intellectually bland content.
The debate over AI’s role in college essays raises questions about ethics and equality. Institutions are grappling with how to address AI’s use in applications, from outright bans to conditional acceptance. The challenge is distinguishing between authentic and AI-generated essays.
Some universities are taking a proactive approach. The University of Michigan Law School banned AI tools in its applications, while Arizona State University Law School allows students to use AI as long as they disclose it. Georgia Tech offers guidance to undergraduate applicants, encouraging them to use AI for brainstorming and refining ideas while emphasizing that the final submission should be their own.
AI’s potential to democratize the admissions process is a point of discussion. It can provide students, who lack access to expensive tutors or college counselors, with valuable assistance. However, concerns linger about AI’s impact on essay quality, with some arguing that it can help students advocate for themselves in the competitive admissions landscape.
While AI tools can help improve essays, they are not a silver bullet. AI-generated content often lacks the specificity and personal touch that make essays stand out. Students still need to work on refining AI-generated drafts to create compelling narratives.
The issue of access to AI tools also comes into play. Bans on AI in some school districts inadvertently disadvantage students without access to devices and the internet at home. Without proper guidance, students may resort to plagiarism or misuse AI tools.
Overall, the debate surrounding AI in college admissions essays raises important questions about equity, ethics, and the changing landscape of education. AI has the potential to reshape the admissions process, but it must be harnessed responsibly to ensure fairness and integrity.