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An Ivy Admissions Officer's Take on ChatGPT for College Application Essays

Robot writing on a paper, symbolizing the use of AI like ChatGPT in college admissions essays
Is AI the future of college essay writing? Explore the implications of using tools like ChatGPT with insights from admissions experts.

As someone who has reviewed thousands of applications during my tenure as an Associate Director of Admissions at an Ivy League institution, I've seen a wide range of approaches to the college application essay. From compelling narratives to compelling failures, the essay can significantly influence an application's outcome. So when the question arises, "Should you use ChatGPT (or other AI writing platforms) to write your college application essay?", it's imperative to treat it with the gravity it deserves.

The Appeal of AI Writing Platforms

Let's start by acknowledging why someone might consider using an AI writing platform like ChatGPT. The college application process is undoubtedly overwhelming, and writing an essay that encapsulates your identity, aspirations, and qualifications in just a few hundred words is a daunting task. These writing platforms can generate text quickly and have become increasingly sophisticated in their ability to mimic human writing styles.

Understanding the Essence of the Essay

However, it's crucial to remember what the essay is supposed to achieve. The essay is not merely an exercise in literary skill or an intellectual showcase; it's a glimpse into who you are. It's your opportunity to show the admissions team your personality, character, and potential fit for the institution—attributes that your grades and test scores can't fully convey. When a computer generates your essay, the result might be grammatically sound and thematically coherent, but it won't authentically represent you.

The Risks

  1. Authenticity: The first risk is one of authenticity. Admissions officers have a keen eye for essays that don't reflect the genuine voice of the applicant. Using AI to write your essay undermines the essence of what the exercise aims to capture.

  2. Ethical Implications: There are also ethical considerations. Most schools explicitly ask for personal essays to be the original work of the applicant. Utilizing an AI tool to generate your essay may fall into a gray area, if not outright contravene, the ethical guidelines set forth by universities.

  3. Competitive Disadvantage: Colleges receive thousands of applications each cycle, and a key part of the admissions officer's role is to identify students who will enrich the campus community. An AI-generated essay is likely to lack the nuances, quirks, and unique insights that make you, well, you. This puts you at a competitive disadvantage.

A Balanced Approach

That's not to say AI writing platforms don't have a role to play. They can be an excellent tool for brainstorming ideas, organizing your thoughts, or even polishing your grammar and style. However, the initial draft and the core substance should come directly from you. Think of these platforms as a supplementary tool, not a substitute for your own voice and creativity.

The Art of Self-Expression

The essay writing process is also an invaluable experience. It forces you to introspect, articulate your goals and aspirations, and confront your fears and weaknesses. This act of self-exploration is not just beneficial for your application; it's an important life skill. Delegating this task to a machine deprives you of a crucial learning opportunity.

A Better Alternative

Navigating the complexities of the college application process is challenging, and many students and their families choose to hire an admissions consultant for expert guidance. An experienced consultant can offer tailored advice, and unlike AI, they understand the nuances of what different schools look for in applicants.

I offer admissions consulting services, drawing on my years of experience evaluating Ivy League applications. While it's an additional cost, the personalized guidance can significantly increase your chances of getting into your dream school. It's an investment in your educational journey, potentially saving you from costly errors that could negatively impact your application.


While AI writing platforms like ChatGPT are captivating pieces of technology with a lot to offer, they should not replace the authentic, human element of your college application essay. Your essay should be a sincere, original reflection of who you are—and that's something no machine can replicate.

If you're seeking assistance, consider hiring an admissions consultant who has genuine experience with the application process at top schools. It's a decision that can offer substantial returns on your academic and personal development. Remember, the goal is not just to get in, but also to thrive once you're there, and that begins with an application that truly reflects you.


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