Should You Use ChatGPT to Write College Application Essays?

The college application essay is a critical component of your application process. It’s your chance to showcase your personality, achievements, and aspirations beyond what your transcripts and test scores reveal. With the rise of artificial intelligence (AI) tools like ChatGPT, some students might be tempted to use these technologies to write their essays. But is this a good idea?

What is ChatGPT?

ChatGPT is an advanced AI language model developed by OpenAI. It can generate human-like text based on the prompts it receives, making it a useful tool for various writing tasks. This technology has been trained on a vast dataset, enabling it to produce coherent and contextually appropriate text. 

While ChatGPT can produce coherent and grammatically correct essays, it lacks the ability to understand personal experiences and emotions genuinely. Its outputs are based on patterns and data, not personal insights. Therefore, while it can mimic human writing styles, it cannot replace the authenticity of a personal narrative. ChatGPT can help with grammar, style, and even idea generation, but it falls short of conveying the unique, personal touch that an applicant’s story requires.

Why Students Are Tempted to Use ChatGPT

Students often juggle multiple responsibilities and deadlines. The college application process can be overwhelming, and the idea of using ChatGPT might seem like a time-saving solution. With so much to balance, the temptation to offload the essay writing task to AI is understandable. The rigorous schedule of classes, extracurricular activities, and part-time jobs leaves little time for thoughtful essay writing.

Some believe that AI can enhance the quality of their writing, producing polished and articulate essays that might impress admissions committees. The advanced language capabilities of ChatGPT can indeed generate well-structured sentences, which might appear more sophisticated than a student’s draft. However, this perceived improvement in quality may come at the cost of losing the essay’s personal essence.

Not all students feel confident in their writing abilities. Writing can be a difficult task, and the fear of not producing a compelling essay can drive students to seek help from AI tools like ChatGPT. They might think that AI can bridge the gap between their skills and the high standards expected by colleges. This lack of confidence can lead students to believe that an AI-generated essay might better reflect their potential than their own writing.

Why You Shouldn’t Use ChatGPT to Write Your Essays

Detection by Admissions Committees

Many institutions have measures in place to detect AI-written content. If your essay is flagged, it could jeopardize your application. Advanced plagiarism detection tools and human intuition can often identify inconsistencies in writing style and content that suggest AI involvement. We read essays all the time that sound robotic – which usually tells us it wasn’t written by a human. The consequences of such detection can be severe, leading to rejection of the application and questioning of your integrity.

Getting caught using AI for your essay can have serious consequences, including rejection of your application and potential blacklisting. The repercussions can extend beyond a single application cycle, affecting your chances of admission to other institutions as well. Additionally, a breach of trust in the application process can have long-term implications for your academic and professional reputation.

Lack of Authenticity and Uniqueness

ChatGPT generates content based on patterns and data from its training. While it can create unique text, it lacks the depth of personal experience and emotion that make an essay truly unique. The content produced by ChatGPT may be technically sound but often falls short in terms of personalization and genuine reflection.

Admissions officers seek authenticity. They want to hear your unique voice and story, which an AI cannot genuinely replicate. An essay written by ChatGPT lacks the personal touch and unique insights that make your story compelling. Authenticity is often what sets applicants apart in a sea of applications. ChatGPT cannot genuinely replicate your personal experiences, thoughts, and emotions. The nuances of your unique journey and perspective are best conveyed through your own words. Admissions committees are skilled at detecting generic or formulaic writing, which can detract from the overall impact of your essay.

Ethical Considerations

Using AI to write your essay breaches academic integrity. Your application should reflect your own efforts and abilities, not those of an AI. Colleges value honesty and authenticity, and submitting an AI-generated essay violates these principles. It’s essential to understand that part of the application process is demonstrating your integrity and ethical standards.

Part of the college application process is demonstrating responsibility and maturity. Writing your own essay is a crucial aspect of this. It shows that you are capable of handling tasks independently and that you respect the application process. Using AI to complete such a significant part of your application can undermine this aspect of your character.

Potential Harm to Personal Growth

Writing your own essay is a learning experience that helps you grow and develop critical skills. Bypassing this opportunity can hinder your personal and academic growth. The process of self-reflection, brainstorming, drafting, and revising is invaluable in developing your writing and critical thinking abilities. These skills are not only essential for college but also for your future career and personal development. 

The Value of Writing Your Own Essay

Crafting your own essay improves your writing skills, which will benefit you throughout your academic and professional life. Writing is a skill that is honed over time, and each opportunity to practice contributes to your overall proficiency. By writing your own essay, you learn to communicate your ideas effectively and persuasively, a skill that will serve you well in many areas.

The process of writing your essay allows for personal reflection, helping you understand your goals and aspirations better. It’s a chance to articulate your thoughts and experiences, providing clarity and insight into your own journey. This reflection can be a powerful tool for personal growth and self-awareness, enabling you to make more informed decisions about your future.

Your essay is a platform to present your true self. Authenticity resonates more with admissions officers than a flawlessly written but impersonal essay. Your unique experiences, voice, and perspective are what make your essay stand out. By writing your own essay, you ensure that your application truly reflects who you are and what you have to offer.

Alternative Ways to Improve Your Essay (NOT Through AI)

Getting constructive feedback from teachers and peers can significantly improve your essay. They can offer valuable insights and suggestions to enhance your writing. Feedback from others can help you identify areas for improvement and refine your ideas, making your essay more compelling and polished.

Many schools offer writing centers, and there are numerous online resources to help you enhance your writing skills. These resources can provide guidance on structure, style, and content. Utilizing these tools can help you improve your writing and gain confidence in your abilities.

If you have the budget, you can hire a private college admissions consultant to help you write your essays.

Using AI as a Tool, Not a Crutch

AI can be a useful tool for generating ideas and inspiration, but it should not be relied upon to write your entire essay. Use ChatGPT to brainstorm topics and explore different angles, but ensure that the final content is your own creation. This approach allows you to benefit from AI without compromising the authenticity of your essay.

You can use AI to check grammar and style, ensuring your essay is polished and free of errors. Tools like ChatGPT can help identify and correct grammatical mistakes, making your writing more polished. However, it’s important to review and revise the content yourself to ensure it aligns with your voice and message.


In summary, while using ChatGPT to write your college application essay might seem tempting, it’s not worth the risk. Writing your own essay is an invaluable experience that helps you grow, reflect, and present your authentic self to admissions committees. Take the time to craft a genuine and personal essay—you won’t regret it. Embrace the challenge, seek help and feedback when needed, and trust in your ability to tell your own story.