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Admissions Office Says AI Can Be a Tool in College Essays

Kylee Sanders

Junior Editor

Within the last few months, the use of AI in the academic world has increased drastically. ChatGPT, a form of AI that can create a response to any type of prompt you give it, has especially become popular with students everywhere since they can use it to do any of their writing assignments, including college application essays. The University of the South’s admissions team has noted the popularity of AI, particularly ChatGPT, and addressed how prospective students can use it for their college application essays. 

Assistant Dean of Admission Nancy York stated that they [the admissions team] hope “for applicants to use ChatGPT like a tool when writing their essay.” The admissions team is giving this opportunity to prospective students as “a way to even the playing field,” she explained. Every applicant comes from a different educational background and therefore will not have the same resources as one another. Some high schools may offer writing tutors like the University of the South does, but some may not, which leaves those students on their own to write their college essays. “Writing a college essay is a daunting task,” York said. “ChatGPT can alleviate this pressure prospective students may feel.”

However, using ChatGPT to help write a college essay “should not eliminate the individual voice of the student,” York said. Every prospective student has a voice and a story to tell, and the admissions team wants to hear that and not an essay conjured up by ChatGPT. She explained when using ChatGPT to write a college application essay “use it during the brainstorming and/or editing process” and “carefully think about what you ask it and how you utilize it.” 

The admissions team also addressed the use of AI with current students at the University of the South. Associate Dean of the College of Undergraduate Academic Affairs Alexander Bruce worked with faculty to develop a statement addressing the use of AI and ChatGPT for their classes. It states:

“When you matriculated, you agreed to follow the Honor Code: to do your own honest work and not to cheat in any form. All forms of cheating, including plagiarism, are violations of the Honor Code and will be treated as such. As per the Honor Code, plagiarism is defined as ‘[copying or imitating] the language and thoughts of others and [passing] the result off as an original work.’ Using the language or ideas of others without proper citation is considered academic dishonesty (cheating), and ‘others’ includes responses from artificial intelligence processing programs (for example, ChatGPT). If you ever have a question about an assignment or need additional help, please ask for assistance rather than jeopardize your academic career.”

Dean Bruce stated, “Faculty were encouraged to include it [the statement], or a version of it, on their syllabi along with clear guidance about what resources are approved.”

He also said they added the advice, “Please remind students and advisees, early and often, that unless explicitly directed to use AI tools in a course, they should assume that the use of AI to complete any assignment is prohibited. They should always do their own honest work, and they can always ask their instructor for guidance.” The Honor Council has consistently reminded students to ask about using AI for their classwork if they are unsure of what their professor’s policy may be as well.

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