Navigating the college application process can be overwhelming, but our blog showcases how ChatGPT can help simplify and enhance your experience. Discover the benefits of leveraging AI-powered tools to streamline your college applications, from personalized essay suggestions to expert advice on crafting a standout application. Learn how ChatGPT can assist you in finding the right college fit, preparing for interviews, and optimizing your chances of acceptance. Unlock the potential of AI and revolutionize your college application journey with our insightful blog. Explore the possibilities and embark on a successful path to higher education.
How ChatGPT Can Help with College Applications
ChatGPT has taken the world by storm with the AI bot superpowered to enhance our productivity, learning, and creativity in a myriad of ways. It’s been latched onto by many—software developers, advertising and content creators, customer service representatives, educators, and even students. As a startup that uses data-driven tools to assist our students, we believe the use of AI has huge potential in education but would also caution students on its limitations. We were curious to explore just how ChatGPT can help with college applications and examine what it can and cannot do.
Embracing AI in the Classroom
ChatGPT can be a powerful teaching assistant for both teachers and students. With its capabilities usually associated with human intelligence – such as planning, learning, reasoning, problem-solving, perception, and social intelligence – and its ability to process vast amounts of data, the tool is like a dream teacher’s aide. The difference is, it is able to work faster and with less error than a human.
In the classroom, it can be used to create lesson plans, generate ideas for classroom activities, create quizzes and assignments, grade assignments, and generate prompts or questions for discussion. The uses of ChatGPT in the classroom are practically endless.
For the student, ChatGPT can also be a huge resource. Its 24/7 tutoring and guidance services, quick answers to questions, and study plans allow students to receive support at any time and from anywhere (with internet access). It can offer practice exams and study points to help students keep track of their progress and learn the material more effectively. The AI bot can also help enhance creativity by providing ideas for activities and projects outside standard assignments, and its ability to process vast amounts of data can help generate new insights into topics and encourage students to think outside of the box. The fact that ChatGPT is free and accessible to all, regardless of socio-economic status, creates a level playing field for students in under-resourced schools who may not have access to the same learning support as those in more privileged schools.
Using ChatGPT to Help with the College Application
ChatGPT can also offer practical support to the college applicant. It can draw up a college list, plan out the application process, as well as provide ideas and starting points for the college application essay. We tested its ability to guide us on college choice and applying early, checking the accuracy in its responses.
Here is what we observed.
We asked: I want to apply as an undergraduate to Cornell, Lehigh, UC Berkeley, Drexel and University of Colorado Boulder. My GPA is a 3.8 and I scored a 1500 on the SAT. What are my chances of getting into these colleges? Are they reach, target or safety colleges for me?
ChatGPT: Unfortunately, it is difficult to give an accurate answer without knowing more information about your academic record, extracurricular activities, and other factors. Generally speaking, Cornell and UC Berkeley would be considered reach schools for you, Lehigh and Drexel would be considered target schools, and University of Colorado Boulder would be considered a safety school.
We asked: Can you tell me what the application deadlines for these schools are?
ChatGPT: Cornell University: January 2, 2021 Lehigh University: January 15, 2021 University of California Berkeley: November 30, 2020 Drexel University: February 1, 2021 University of Colorado Boulder: February 1, 2021
We asked: Which school would you recommend I apply early to, Lehigh, UC Berkeley, Cornell or Drexel?
ChatGPT: It is difficult to recommend a specific school without knowing more information about your academic record, extracurricular activities, and other factors. Generally speaking, if you are looking to apply early, Cornell and UC Berkeley would be the two schools to consider. Both of these schools have highly competitive admissions processes and your GPA and SAT score indicate that you would have a strong chance of being accepted. In addition, Lehigh and Drexel are both good choices, but your chances of acceptance are slightly lower than with Cornell and UC Berkeley.
Here is another example.
We also tested its ability to find relevant information to include in a response to essay prompts. Here is an example:
We asked: The essay prompt for Cornell asks “How do your interests directly connect with Cornell Engineering? If you have an intended major, what draws you to that department at Cornell Engineering? (100-150 words)”. Can you tell me some unique aspects at Cornell Engineering that sets it apart from other colleges?
ChatGPT: Cornell Engineering is unique in its commitment to interdisciplinary collaboration, which encourages students to find creative solutions to complex engineering problems. In addition, Cornell Engineering boasts a wide range of research opportunities, with over 200 projects available to participate in. Cornell Engineering also offers a number of specialized programs, such as the Engineering Innovation and Research (EIR) program, which allows students to design and create original projects. Finally, Cornell Engineering is well-known for its strong alumni network, which provides students with access to a wealth of resources and potential career opportunities.
We asked: Can you provide me with the links to those programs?
ChatGPt: Cornell Engineering Innovation and Research (EIR) Program: https://www.engineering.cornell.edu/academics/undergraduate/engineering-innovation-and-research-program
Cornell Engineering Research Opportunities: https://www.engineering.cornell.edu/academics/undergraduate/research-opportunities
ChatGPT response analysis:
The AI bot does a fairly good job sifting through information and providing factual responses. For the first question, it responds with relatively good judgment assigning a reasonably accurate ranking for each of the schools according to the GPA and SAT score. ChatGPT rightly states that it cannot provide a wholly accurate answer in the absence of extracurricular activities and other elements of the college application. This is an important reminder for students that the chatbot should be used as a supplement to their own research and analysis of the application process, rather than a source of comprehensive, accurate advice.
On the second question relating to application deadlines, the dates are correct, however, ChatGPT is trained on data up to 2021, so its advisable to always double-check information like deadlines that can change from year to year. However, it failed with its response to the follow-up question on the best choice for applying early. Firstly UC Berkeley does not offer early decisions. Secondly and more importantly, while it recommends applying to Cornell, which is the obvious choice, its rationale for recommending this is because chances at Drexel and Lehigh are lower than UC Berkeley and Cornell, is incorrect. Drexel and Lehigh are less competitive colleges than Cornell.
As for its final response it missed the mark, a search on the web didn’t bring up any results for the program Engineering Innovation and Research program and the link was broken. Likewise the link for Cornell Engineering Research Opportunities was broken. For this type of question, a simple Google search produces better results.
We asked: Can you tell me some unique aspects at Cornell Engineering that sets it apart from other colleges?
Google: What makes Cornell Engineering unique?
- We are the largest and highest-ranked engineering program in the Ivy League.
- Our program has incredible depth with 14 majors and 22 minors in addition to the breadth of academic opportunities across the University.
- Cornell Engineering sponsors 34 student-led project teams. https://www.engineering.cornell.edu/admissions/undergraduate-admissions
On the whole…
On the whole, ChatGPT’s assistance for some questions can be helpful; however, its assistance is best coupled with the guidance of a college admission expert who can ensure accuracy of information, provide greater insight into college choice, and focus on the substance of a compelling college application. The AI bot cannot construct a college list that suits the unique interests and needs of a student. Nor can it help identify the storyline of an application essay and ensure the information referenced is accurate.
One of the main advantages of using ChatGPT for essay writing is its capacity to generate ideas and provide factual information to include in an essay. This is particularly useful for students who are experiencing difficulty in coming up with ideas. With ChatGPT’s help, these students can quickly and easily come up with ideas to get their essay writing process underway and verify any factual information included.
However, students may be tempted to use it to write their entire college application essays. ChatGPT has the ability to not only generate coherent and grammatically correct sentences but also string them together into a complete essay. A college applicant short of time could rely on ChatGPT to write a complete response to the college application essay. This raises ethical questions around the correct use of ChatGPT and whether in this context could be construed as plagiarism. In some school districts, ChatGPT has been banned for fear of the negative impacts it could have on a student’s learning.
While we didn’t test it for its ability to write a complete essay, it has been tested by others to write a response to college application prompts. College admission experts have looked at its responses to the college essay prompts and agree they could measure up as genuine responses written by real students and could be accepted by some colleges. One admission expert stated that he knew students admitted to colleges after submitting essays lower in quality than these. However, the essay responses lack a student’s authenticity, creativity, and critical thought that you’d expect to see in an essay and wouldn’t pass for admission into a top college.
If used unabated it could create a loss of trust in college admissions. The world just changed ChatGPT’s introduction and colleges will need to adapt to it. Several companies have already developed tools to detect AI-generated text. Turnitin just launched an AI writing detection tool that has a 98% confidence rate for detecting AI writing tools. These tools are a much better approach to managing the use of the chatbot than banning it altogether and creating a digital divide between students who know how to use it and disadvantage those that don’t.
How does Empowerly use data-driven tools?
AI that uses intelligent algorithms to process large amounts of data can offer fast and accurate solutions to the student. At Empowerly, we have combined college admission data with an algorithm that can measure every factor included in the college application—including grades, course difficulty, and test scores, extracurricular activities and writing skills—to gauge a student’s chances of college acceptance. The Empowerly Score®, goes beyond that of an AI chatbot (which could only offer suggestions based on GPA and test scores) and provides the applicant much more comprehensive recommendations on college choice.
However, we also believe that the college application process is a personal one, that requires not just data-driven tools but individualized one-on-one help from experts. AI can help students make informed decisions but it can’t replace the advice of college admission experts who have years of experience with college applications and have helped hundreds of students get into their college of choice. Empowerly offers a comprehensive package of services combining the use of our Empowerly Score®, with the personalized help of college counselors, essay editors, and college admission experts to help students make informed decisions and draft applications that really highlights the biggest strengths in each of our students.
If you are about to embark on the college application journey and are feeling anxious about your chances of standing out from the crowd, Empowerly can help. Our team of experienced College Coaches takes a personalized approach to ensure that each student has the best chance of success. Don’t hesitate to reach out and book a consultation today!