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Is Using ChatGPT Cheating? College Admission Says YES


The Common App opens on August 1st and college application season officially begins. As students turn their attention to their applications the daunting task of writing persuasive college essays looms on the horizon. Students struggling to begin writing may be tempted to turn to AI, such as ChatGPT, to complete the task for them. Colleges, particularly those conducting a holistic review of the applicants, want to read essays that show who you are, what you value, your growth and maturity and are personal and vulnerable.


College admission representatives typically spend less than 15 minutes reviewing a student’s complete application package. Some admissions reps have said they spend 4-5 minutes per application. We are not telling you that to make you anxious but to point out that if your essay is not personal and memorable, you are missing an opportunity to make it onto the accepted pile!

To understand the difference, we generated a few essays using ChatGPT and compared those to essays written by our students who were accepted at the top ten colleges in the country. Our student essays were far more compelling and persuasive than those we generated using ChatGPT because we the following were lacking in the AI essays:


1. Lack of originality

AI language models regurgitate existing ideas. They do not create new ones. AI language models are designed to generate new text by learning patterns and structures from large datasets of existing text. As a result, you get the same old ideas packaged in a different way, lacking originality and creativity. Essays generated by ChatGPT are boring.

So, when you submit AI-generated essays, remember you are submitting recycled and possibly plagiarized content that lacks the creativity or originality that is expected in your college essays.


2. Inability to critically analyze

One thing admissions is trying to decide from your application is your ability to take in new information, think critically, apply your own values, make decisions, and form judgements. However, AI essay writers and chatbots don’t have the capability to analyze research critically, make decisions, or form judgments.

Further, ChatGPT’s writing can be cliche. It doesn’t get into the real details and emotions that make up a person. For your essays to compel, engage and move your readers, they need to take a stand and that can only happen when it is written by a human with emotional intelligence.


3. Robotic style of writing

Everyone has a different voice and style of writing. There is a tonality and texture to your writing that is unique to you. AI language models produce similar-sounding and generic writing. They do not use metaphors, rhetorical questions, examples, and other literary devices. Your essay needs to show admissions what is important to you and what your value through examples from your life. There is no way for a chatbot to know your unique human experiences, your reactions to those experiences and how they informed your choices, life, and future.

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