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ChatGPT vs. Admissions Counselors: Can AI write a compelling college essay?

Will ChatGPT affect your college essay? Are you no longer just competing with your peers in school when applying to college but with artificial intelligence (AI) as well? The new AI-based writing tool, ChatGPT, has been in the headlines. From writing funny song lyrics to writing essays and papers, people are in awe of this tool. More than one million people signed up to test it in the first five days after its release.

However, with ChatGPT’s endless possibilities comes many concerns. Some of our students are concerned that their college application essays will no longer be as powerful. Can the college admissions office even tell? We decided to put that to the test in our video: “ChatGPT vs. Purvi Mody: Can a ChatGPT college essay fool an admissions counselor?

(Some of our other counselors will be doing this challenge too! Check back for their videos!)


Is ChatGPT the Tool for Writing Your College Application Essays?

As we played around with ChatGPT and asking it to write different essays, we noticed that sometimes it brings in flawed examples or will completely just make up stories. For example, Purvi tried to ask ChatGPT to write an essay about how a student might use music to express him or herself. The essay contained inaccuracy notes on battling anxiety through music. In addition to fabricating content, ChatGPT also tends to have a much more superficial, generic tone. In short, no, it’s not intended to write your personal statement or college supplement essays for you.


For now, ChatGPT’s possibilities may seem limitless. However, for college applications, we should step back and really think about what a college essay is actually about. While it is something that is very scary for many students (and families) to approach, let’s reframe and look at this as an opportunity. This is your chance to tell the admissions offices almost anything that you want and to show them the side of you that is not evident anywhere else in the college application. It is also a method for you to learn more about yourself, your values, and your growth. Writing college essays is a huge task, but it is also rewarding. If you put in the hard work, you will come out of this process feeling more in tune with who you are.


Should I still use ChatGPT?

ChatGPT is a great tool, and we’re certainly not avoiding ChatGPT at Insight! Our team is playing around with it. We’re learning more about it. We’re trying to see its possibilities and how we can use it effectively. The biggest limitation, and why we advise against using it to write your college essays, is that ChatGPT is not you. It can mimic your voice, but it cannot replace who you are. When you’re writing your college essays, you need to come alive on the pages. Who you are needs to shine through. Thus, when you know yourself well, you don’t need a tool to tell your story. In fact, you are wasting more time to teach ChatGPT to tell your story accurately and authentically.


As you become a rising senior or a senior, your time is very precious. You want to spend time thinking through what you want to convey. Use that time to get to know yourself better. Think about what that you want to get across to college admissions office. We say this at Insight often, the most important part of your college essay is your voice. We know what a 17-year-old sounds like, so admissions officers are super aware of what a 17-year-old sounds like. This is why Insight counselors don’t even want parents touching their children’s college essays because the perspective is very different. When you use a tool that could lead you to losing your voice, you’re sacrificing the most important thing that you are adding to your own college application.

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