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How Will Admissions Offices Deal with ChatGPT?

Last week, I showed an example of a lackluster college essay presented by Jeff Selingo, author of Who Gets In and Why? Regarding the essay, he wrote:

“I asked admissions deans who already find the essay susceptible to manipulation what they thought of ChatGPT. One dean at a highly selective private suggested it might accelerate an idea floated by some of his colleagues to turn the essay into an independent assessment proctored by a counselor. In such a case, students would be given a random prompt and asked to answer in a specified time period.

I told the dean that I can't imagine counselors will want to do more work in the college application process. “Well, if they really want their students to apply here, then they won’t have much of a choice,” the admissions dean said flippantly.”

My feeling: whatever changes colleges will require, I am glad to do more work to help students write uncommon, human-generated essays. I expect that many students may start with a computer-generated draft: we all use tools to make our lives easier.

That’s the purpose of technology! Since humans began using the five simple machines in the stone age to address basic needs like building shelter and finding food, we’ve created and refined tech to reduce our workload physically and mentally. Think the wheel and the washing machine, the calculator and autopay (which frees up brain space). Then there’s speed. Once machines drove production, markets, wealth, and opportunity grew more quickly. All that adds up to ease.

Our text-generating apps can make writing easier, but they can’t make it better–at least not today. “The right tool for the job” of writing a strong college essay is still the human brain.


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