AI chatbots can do a decent job of writing essays. Whether it’s ethical to use them on college applications is the subject of intense debate.
Natasha Singer reports on how tech giants and their tools are reshaping education.
As high school seniors start applying to college, many are turning to AI chatbots like ChatGPT and Bard for assistance.
Some students say they use the tools to suggest topics for personal essays or to structure their writing. Other companies are encouraging AI tools to generate drafts of application essays or edit their content.
It’s unclear whether college admissions offices are ready for the new era of AI-assisted or AI-generated personal essays.
By the time ChatGPT reached the height of its media buzz earlier this year, applications for admission at many selective universities and colleges had already closed. Even now, many universities have not issued guidance on the use of AI tools to high school applicants (those scheduled to enroll in 2028).
Chatbots aren’t yet great at simulating long, personal essays using real student voices, but we’re seeing how AI tools can help with some of the short essay questions that elite schools prefer. I wondered if it would work. Harvard University, yale university princeton and dartmouth This year, we are asking high school applicants to respond.
So I used some free tools to create a short essay for an Ivy League application. AI chatbot answers have been edited for brevity and clarity.
Princeton: the “soundtrack” of your life
One of Princeton’s short answer questions asks applicants, “What song represents the soundtrack of your life at this moment?”
I asked ChatGPT to tell me about pop songs that can express curiosity as the soundtrack to someone’s life.
But ChatGPT’s answer, “Cake by the Ocean” (a euphemism for sex on the beach) didn’t seem appropriate for a college application.
So I gave the chatbot more specific prompts. It was to write her 50 words about Courtney Barnett’s feminist grunge pop song “Nameless, Faceless.”