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WINGSPAN

The student news site of Liberty High School in Frisco, Texas

WINGSPAN

Implications of artificial intelligence spread to college applications

With+the+rise+in+prevalence+of+Artificial+Intelligence%2C+new+implications+arise+every+day%2C+especially+college+applications.+As+students+continue+to+apply%2C+many+grapple+with+the+usage+of+AI.
Lilian Johnson
With the rise in prevalence of Artificial Intelligence, new implications arise every day, especially college applications. As students continue to apply, many grapple with the usage of AI.

The emergence of easily accessible artificial intelligence, like ChatGPT, has raised a lot of questions regarding its place in daily lives. It is an especially contentious issue in education, as tools like AI can write essays and complete assignments for students, taking away from the academic integrity of the school environment.

However, ChatGPT could be an issue in another avenue of education: college admissions.

Creativity is one of the things that’s emphasized through the application process,

— senior Ella Mack

It is a well known fact that essays are a huge part of college admissions. According to Collegeboard, “A powerful, well-written essay can make a difference and elevate an applicant in an admission committee’s eyes when colleges have to choose between applicants with similar qualifications.” But when we have access to tools that can write these essays for us, how could this affect college admissions?

On one hand, you’ve got those that will put essay prompts into an AI and submit that as their college essay, using the AI’s ideas as their own. This method not only challenges the authenticity of the admissions process, but also introduces a potential disparity in the evaluation of applicants. Admissions officers, tasked with discerning between actual personal narratives and AI-crafted content, may find themselves navigating a blurred line. The risk is that the essence of the applicant, their unique journey, and their capacity for genuine self-expression could be lost in the text generated by the AI.

“It honestly seems counterproductive,” senior Suchir Mishra said. “The point of the essays is to help the colleges get to know us. We write about authentic experiences – an AI can’t necessarily simulate that.”

Moreover, an overreliance on AI for the entirety of the essay-writing process may inadvertently diminish the skills that the admissions process aims to assess—skills such as critical thinking, creativity, and the ability to communicate one’s thoughts effectively.

“Creativity is one of the things that’s emphasized through the application process,” senior Ella Mack said. “A lot of the supplemental prompts had references to our own creativity and had us come up with new ideas for things.”

In essence, by outsourcing the creative and reflective aspects of the application process to AI, applicants may unintentionally undercut the very qualities that colleges seek in their students.

On the other hand, you’ve got those that will write their own essays, and use AI to maybe check spelling and grammar, or not use it at all. Dr. Ham, AP Research and Biology teacher, and adjunct professor at the University of North Texas, offers a unique insight into the most ethical way to do this.

So you can use ChatGPT to help you think of ideas, and with how to format things, but the writing should be yours because that’s what you’ll ultimately be judged on

— AP Research teacher Chris Ham

“I think it’s best to work backwards,” Ham said. “They want to know your story, and how you write. We want the story to be real. So you can use ChatGPT to help you think of ideas, and with how to format things, but the writing should be yours because that’s what you’ll ultimately be judged on.”

Applicants that embrace this approach might leverage AI to check spelling and grammar, ensuring that the technical elements of their writing meet the highest standards. This approach acknowledges the practical advantages of AI without sacrificing the personal touch that admissions committees value. In doing so, applicants aim to strike a balance, embracing technology as an aid while preserving the essence of their narrative.

“Every single person is unique,” Ham said. “If you use ChatGPT, it’s like one writer writing on behalf of millions of people.” 

There are limitations to the use of artificial intelligence in this context. The essay prompts asked by college admissions are deeply personal. For example, the ApplyTexas prompt for the 2023-24 admissions cycle is, “Tell us your story”. 

“Every essay I wrote asked about my own personal experiences,” senior Kirtana Gadde said. “Even the ones that asked ‘why this college’, there’s still a capacity to talk about yourself. That’s what colleges want you to do, so they can get a better idea of who you are.”

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About the Contributors
Sindhuja Pannuri, Staff Reporter
Sindhuja (Sindhu) Pannuri is a senior entering her second year of Wingspan staff. At school, she is captain of the varsity debate team and President of Youth and Government. In her free time, she reads books to escape reality and enjoys boxing in the ring. She’s so excited for what this year will hold!
Lilian Johnson, Sports Reporter
Lilian Johnson is a sophomore and in her first year with Wingspan. She is on the Varsity basketball team and is a part of several clubs. In her free time, Lilian enjoys reading, watching movies, and spending time with her sister. Contact Lilian: lilian.johnson.332@k12.friscoisd.org

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