The Ivy Coach Daily

September 29, 2023

College Essay Plagiarism and the Use of A.I.

College Essay Plagiarism And The Use Of AI

Previously Published on March 2, 2011:

What do President Joe Biden, poet T. S. Eliot, and historian Stephen Ambrose all have in common? They have all, at some point, been accused of plagiarism. While Eliot’s plagiarism would be discovered posthumously, President Biden and Ambrose would live to regret their lapses in judgment.

The Consequences of Plagiarism in College Essays

The consequences of plagiarism on a college essay, in particular, can reverberate for a lifetime. It can very well result in one’s admission being rescinded, or, if one’s already enrolled, their expulsion. In fact, degrees can even be revoked. And then there’s the embarrassment it would bring to the student and their family, school, and community.

Getting Help with College Essays: Is It Okay?

Now, is it okay to get help with a college essay? You bet! To not brainstorm college essay topics with someone well versed in highly selective college admissions, and to not have someone review and critique those essays can put an applicant at a significant disadvantage.

Novelists don’t publish books without the help of their editors. Television writers don’t see their scripts go into production without notes from production company, studio, and streaming executives. It’s all part of the creative process. Good writing is about rewriting.

But notice we referenced human editors and human film and television executives. We didn’t reference ChatGPT because any college applicant who uses ChatGPT to help formulate their college essays is making a grave mistake. Not only will their admissions essays turn out poorly written and formulaic, but they run the risk — a risk surely not worth taking — that an admissions committee will use AI detection software to determine if a student’s writing is strictly their own. Do you really think they haven’t thought of that?

Artificial Intelligence Should Not Be Used for College Essays

Even students who use Chat GPT or some other form of AI in only the brainstorming or outlining process of college essays rather than the writing process are making an error in judgment since the outlines for the essays themselves will turn out formulaic. Indeed, even when students think they’re not plagiarizing from a source, they often do unknowingly. Admissions officers at America’s elite universities won’t care if an applicant did so knowingly or unknowingly. Their fate will be sealed — their application will end up in the pile of rejections.

Do Colleges Check for Plagiarism and AI in Admission Essays?

At present, The Common Application — shockingly — doesn’t yet have AI detection software built into its platform for colleges. As such, it will be up to individual colleges to run essays through the software. But this software exists, and it’s already quite accessible — even to individual admissions officers who suspect an essay might have been written with the aid of AI. And as AI evolves in the coming years, we suspect every elite college will run essays through such software. 

Ivy Coach’s Assistance with College Essays

If you’re interested in crafting essays that will wow admissions officers at America’s highly selective universities and showcase a singular hook rather than well-roundedness, fill out Ivy Coach’s free consultation form, and we’ll be in touch to outline our college counseling services.

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