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ChatGPT and College Admissions

There's been a lot written and discussed recently about OpenAI's ChatGPT language model and how it represents a seismic shift in the way we will use AI-generated tools in various aspects of our lives. As a college admissions advising company, we are especially interested in how ChatGPT will impact the college application process - most specifically the college application essays.


I recently spent some time with ChatGPT to explore its current abilities to generate writing on the college admissions process and application essays based on supplemental essay prompts. Overall, it's performance is impressive. In my view, for less selective colleges with relatively simple essay prompts, the tool is able to generate compelling essays. For more selective colleges with complex prompts (such as University of Chicago), the tool is not able to generate essays that could be submitted, but certainly provides interesting starting points from which students could build their essay drafts. That said, the model is constantly getting better, so we will only see improvements in its abilities moving forward.


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The tool provides some serious opportunities but also concerns for the admissions process, and we will be working to stay out in front of this emerging technology!


Below are some examples of questions I submitted (in bold) and the ChatGPT responses.


What should high school juniors be doing to prepare to apply to college?

High school juniors should be taking the following steps to prepare for college applications:

  1. Research colleges: Start researching colleges to get a sense of what types of schools might be a good fit for you. Look at factors such as location, size, academic programs, campus culture, and cost.

  2. Take standardized tests: Many colleges require applicants to submit scores from standardized tests like the SAT or ACT. High school juniors should plan to take these tests at least once during the spring of their junior year, in order to have the option to retake them in the fall of senior year if they want to improve their scores.

  3. Take challenging classes: College admissions officers look at the rigor of a student's high school curriculum when making admissions decisions. High school juniors should take challenging classes such as honors and AP classes to demonstrate their academic readiness for college.

  4. Get involved in extracurricular activities: Admissions officers want to see that students are well-rounded and have a passion for something outside of academics. High school juniors should get involved in extracurricular activities that they are interested in and that will help them stand out on their college applications.

  5. Start thinking about essays: Many college applications require students to write an essay. High school juniors should start thinking about the topics that they might want to write about, so that they will be ready when the time comes to actually write their essays.

  6. Reach out to college representatives: Many colleges will have representatives visiting local high schools during the fall of junior year. High school juniors should take advantage of these visits to learn more about the schools they are interested in and ask questions of the representatives.

  7. Meet with a counselor: High school juniors should meet with a school counselor to get more information about the college application process, including deadlines, requirements, and scholarships.

  8. Get organized: Keep a calendar of important deadlines and make sure to stay on top of all the requirements for each college application.

Write an application essay explaining why I should apply to Penn state university.

Penn State University is a world-renowned institution with a rich history of academic excellence and a vibrant student life. I believe that my academic and personal experiences have prepared me well to thrive in this dynamic and challenging environment.

First and foremost, I am a dedicated student with a strong passion for learning. I have consistently taken challenging courses throughout high school, earning high grades and participating in various academic extracurricular activities. I am particularly interested in pursuing a degree in [major], as it aligns with my career aspirations and personal interests.

In addition to my academic achievements, I am also an active member of my community. I have volunteered at various organizations, such as [organization], where I have helped to [specific responsibilities]. Through these experiences, I have developed strong leadership and teamwork skills. I am eager to continue to give back to the community at Penn State through volunteering and community service opportunities.

Furthermore, Penn State is known for its vibrant student life, and I am excited to take advantage of all the opportunities the university has to offer. I am particularly interested in joining [club/organization], as it aligns with my hobbies and interests. I am also looking forward to participating in the many events and activities that are organized by the university.

Overall, I believe that my academic achievements, community involvement, and passion for learning make me a strong candidate for admission to Penn State University. I am confident that my experiences and skills will contribute to the diverse and dynamic student body at the university and I am excited to take the next step in my educational journey at Penn State.


University of Chicago Supplemental Prompt: You are on an expedition to found a colony on Mars, when from a nearby crater, a group of Martians suddenly emerges. They seem eager to communicate, but they're the impatient kind and demand you represent the human race in one song, image, memory, proof, or other idea. What do you share with them to show that humanity is worth their time?

As a language model, I don't have personal preferences, but I can suggest a few options for what one might share with the Martians to represent humanity.

  1. A song: "Imagine" by John Lennon, which encourages unity and peace among all people and nations.

  2. An image: A photograph of Earth taken from space, to demonstrate the beauty and fragility of our planet and our interconnectedness as a species.

  3. A memory: A personal memory of a moment of kindness or selflessness experienced or witnessed, to show that humanity is capable of compassion and empathy.

  4. A proof: A scientific discovery or technological innovation that illustrates humanity's capacity for creativity and problem-solving.

Ultimately, the decision of what to share would depend on the specific circumstances of the encounter and the goals of the individual or group representing humanity.


University of Chicago has been affiliated with over 90 Nobel laureates. But, why should economics, physics, and peace get all the glory? You are tasked with creating a new category for the Nobel Prize. Explain what it would be, why you chose your specific category, and the criteria necessary to achieve this accomplishment.

Creating a new category for the Nobel Prize would be a significant undertaking, and there are many areas of human achievement that could be considered. However, one category that I believe would be valuable to recognize is "Environmental Stewardship." This category would recognize individuals or organizations that have made outstanding contributions to the preservation and protection of the natural environment. The criteria for this award could include achievements in areas such as:

  • Reducing greenhouse gas emissions and addressing climate change

  • Preserving biodiversity and protecting endangered species

  • Developing sustainable and renewable energy sources

  • Promoting conservation and responsible use of natural resources

  • Advancing the field of environmental science and technology

I chose this category because the protection of the natural environment is an issue of critical importance for the survival of humanity and all life on Earth. Climate change, loss of biodiversity, and unsustainable use of natural resources are all major challenges that must be addressed if we are to ensure a healthy and livable planet for future generations. Recognizing and rewarding those who are working to address these issues through the prestige and prestige of the Nobel Prize would help to raise awareness and support for these efforts. The criteria for this award would be rigorous. The nominee's work should have made a significant and measurable impact on the environment, and it should have been accomplished through a combination of scientific research, technological innovation, policy development, or community engagement. Nominees should have a proven track record of producing results. It could be a group, an individual, or an organization. It is important to note that creating a new category for the Nobel Prize would require the approval of the Nobel Foundation and its board of directors, and would likely require significant discussion and debate among experts in the field of environmental stewardship.

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