• College Counseling
It Depends, A College Counseling Blog Series: ChatGPT & Essay Writing


Editor’s Note: 

It Depends is a series from the Office of College Counseling, that aims to answer some common questions asked by students and families as they navigate the college search and application process, within the context of today’s world, with today’s technology.   

Check back monthly as Co-Director of College Counseling Keegan Ash poses frequently asked questions to ChatGPT and analyzes the responses, going deeper than the generic replies by reminding us, “it depends.” 


Welcome to It Depends, a blog series from the College Counseling Office.  

In each post, I will pose a question to ChatGPT about the college process and then respond and add perspective to the AI generated response. The goal is to provide the general content anyone could find on internet forums, or websites, or through AI, but to go one step further and add the expertise, experience, and perspective of an experienced counselor. 

AI content will be displayed in normal text, while my comments will be purple and bolded to distinguish between the two perspectives. 


Let's get started.  

Question: Why should I NOT use Chat GPT for my college essay? 

While Chat GPT can provide assistance and generate text on various topics, it is not advisable to rely on it for your college essay. Here are a few reasons why: 

1. Lack of human expertise: Chat GPT is a language model trained on a wide range of internet sources, but it does not possess real-world experience or deep expertise in specific academic subjects. When writing a college essay, it's crucial to demonstrate your own understanding of the topic and engage with scholarly resources. 

Well, yeah… it isn’t you.  You’ll get a bunch of nice words, but there’s no actual connection to your life and experience.  Chat GPT won’t be able to provide examples of what actually happened in your life. 

2. Plagiarism concerns: Submitting an essay generated with the help of Chat GPT without proper attribution or without substantial original input could be considered plagiarism. Educational institutions have strict policies against plagiarism, and it can have severe consequences for your academic standing. 

It’s never a good look to plagiarize.  It’s never a good look to just use Chat GPT and try to pass it off as your own.  

From an admissions perspective, imagine the rep’s reaction, “You couldn’t even put forth the effort to write your own essay for the application.  Is that who we’d want at our college?  We couldn’t even trust you in your application to be honest. Why would we accept you?” 

Probably a situation where the risk isn’t worth it. 

3. Inconsistency and unreliable information: While Chat GPT can produce coherent and relevant responses, it is also prone to errors and inconsistencies. It may generate incorrect information or misleading arguments, which can adversely impact the quality and accuracy of your essay. 

It’s not your writing, so the chances that Chat GPT lays out some inconsistencies are pretty good.   


4. Missed opportunity for personal growth: Writing a college essay is an opportunity for personal expression, critical thinking, and development of your own voice. By relying solely on Chat GPT, you miss out on the chance to strengthen your writing skills, showcase your unique perspectives, and demonstrate your intellectual growth to the admissions committee. 

It’s worth it to go through this process.  You learn a lot about yourself and the opportunity to reflect and consider your outlook is beneficial to your growth as a student. I really like this one. 


Don't miss this opportunity for personal growth. Write the essay.


5. Adherence to guidelines and expectations: College essay prompts often come with specific guidelines and expectations. Chat GPT may not fully comprehend the nuances of these requirements, leading to essays that do not meet the criteria set by the institution. It is essential to tailor your essay to the prompt and adhere to any specific guidelines provided. 

This is especially true for the supplemental essays. 

Instead of relying on Chat GPT for your college essay, consider using it as a tool for brainstorming ideas, gathering general information, or seeking inspiration. It's always best to personally engage with the writing process, conduct thorough research, and seek feedback from teachers, mentors, or college counselors to produce an authentic and compelling essay. 

Blah blah blah.  Nah… again, Chat GPT isn’t helpful for brainstorming… it doesn’t know you!  Gathering information isn’t helpful because you’re the expert on yourself.  Seeking inspiration?  If you’re going to Chat GPT for inspiration, we need to talk about the people you’re surrounding yourself with because if a robot is more inspirational, that’s a problem.  I think Chat GPT was just trying to end this response on a high note and promote itself.  

. . . 

The college process is filled with nuances, and as the name of this blog series reiterates, a lot of this process comes down to context.  The answers to many questions will be “it depends.”   The College Counseling Office is here to give the best advice possible within that context.  Our student-centered approach is focused on meeting the needs of our students while keeping their goals in mind -- and celebrating them along the way.  

If you have additional questions, schedule a time to speak with your counselor.  You can use the links below to schedule a time. 

Mr. Ash: https://calendly.com/kash-perk

Ms. Davidson-Kellogg: https://calendly.com/perk-davidson-kellogg



College Counseling at Perkiomen School

Read more by the College Counseling Department


Check out the It Depends Podcast


'It depends' is meant to lead to further discussion. It is an opportunity for us as counselors to ask follow-up questions. It is a chance for us to gather more information about each child in this process. We are student-centered.  We know every student is unique and therefore every process will be unique.    - KEEGAN ASH, Co-Director of College Counseling