Influential Counselor: AI Essays

Have you been paying attention to the amazing new advancements in artificial intelligence these days? Of course you have! New language processing tools like OpenAI’s ChatGPT are being used to explore the uncanny valleys of everything from code and music to… academic papers and college essays.

You may not consider yourself an early adopter, but nobody who works with teens can ignore the implications of these shockingly simple and sophisticated tools. Plagiarism has long been a concern thanks to the profusion of paper mills and unscrupulous online providers, but the new AI produces original–albeit derivative and clunky–work.

If you are a counselor who reviews college application essays or are at least counseling students writing their essays, know that tools do exist to detect if someone uses ChatGPT to complete an assignment. But how accurate are these screens? Some of our colleagues have been testing the assessment tools and their vulnerabilities:

I asked ChatGPT to write me a college admissions essay with my desire to go into education… it detected as 99% fake.

I refined and told it to rewrite, adding English teacher Mrs. Brayman as my inspiration along with my ten years in martial arts.  Conclusion: solid essay and 95% real.

Ready or not, this is really happening. In December, the Atlantic declared, “The College Essay Is Dead.” Rick Clark, esteemed executive director of undergraduate admissions at the Georgia Institute of Technology, followed by shoveling dirt over the proverbial casket when he said“In the year ahead, due to the emergence and prevalence of artificial intelligence software such as ChatGPT, I expect more colleges to either drop their admission essay altogether or expand the format through which students can convey their voice and demonstrate their ability to articulate their opinions and interest.”

Whether you agree or not, counselors will have to find a way to navigate the unprecedented ability of AI to produce amazing yet inauthentic essays. How will you do it?

Mike Bergin

Perfectly Pertinent Podcasts

Sharing the right podcasts can extend, enrich, and deepen your influence as a counselor.

One for your students:
Writing Rhetorically in Admissions Essays (Tests and the Rest)

One for their parents:
Taboo Essay Topics (Tests and the Rest)

One for you and your colleagues:
Strategies for Acing the College Essay (College Admissions Decoded)

BONUS: Golisano Institute for Business & Entrepreneurship

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