[Moms and dads – play this in the background while you’re reading this article.]
Can I say I did 5 hours of community service per week when I really did 2?
Can I say I was the VP of a club my friend started, even though we never met or did anything?
Can we say we have $50,000 in our savings account when we actually have twice that amount?
Can I round my GPA up a little bit?
How will they know?
Students and parents ask us questions like these all the time, related to their college applications. This year, we’re hearing a new question:
Can I use Chat GPT to write my essays?
Some colleges select some applications to verify, but most colleges trust that applicants are telling the truth. They actually EXPECT that you will – in fact, the concept of honesty is very much at the heart of the college admission process. Every time students submit an application, they check a box that confirms everything they claimed in their application is their “own work, factually true, and honestly presented.” You’re affirming you’ve told the truth. Here are the statements every student signs before submitting every application:
This year, some colleges now ask students to verify that they’re not using AI to write their essays. A number of colleges have shared their thoughts about how AI is and can change college admissions – with some warnings about over- or mis-use. From Georgia Tech Admissions Director Rick Clark (who I constantly read and frequently quote):
“ChatGPT can write an essay or supplemental response for you.
Will it have any personal style, unique details, valuable specifics, or soul? No.
Is copying, pasting, and submitting something you did not write ever a good idea? No.”
- Here are Rick’s full thoughts about ChatGPT and how it may impact college admissions
- Here’s some advice from Caltech about using AI in your college apps. Not surprisingly, this very tech-based school LOVES AI! But it doesn’t love the concept that you might allow someone/something that is not YOU to write your college essays.
- The University of California (with its 9 undergraduate campuses) very clearly states its expectations, both for AI and your presentation of all information in your UC application, in this Statement of Integrity.
And what if you DO embellish just a bit, leave something out, add a little extra something? Well, your college acceptances are conditional. They hinge upon your graduating successfully, completing the classes you said you were taking with success levels that match your prior performance. That means if you applied with straight As and got a massive case of senioritis and ended the year with Bs and a few Cs, the colleges can rescind their invitation to join their community. Don’t believe me? Texas Christian University (TCU) tells you as much before you submit.
So the bottom line: Can you fudge things a little bit? You could.
But honesty is expected, appreciated and rewarded in your college applications.
And being honest means you won’t have to worry if they find out you weren’t.