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11 Ways to Use AI Ethically in the College Admissions Process

Artificial Intelligence (AI) tools, like ChatGPT, can be powerful resources for high school students, their parents and their counselors in the college preparation process. Everything from researching colleges and finding scholarships can be aided by these tools. But like any tool, it’s important they’re used properly and ethically. Below we’ve listed the top 11 ways that AI can be used ethically in the college admissions process, including sample prompts for you to put into the tool so you can start practicing and learning how these tools work.  

A word of caution: You must avoid using AI for substantive content creation, like asking it to write a 650-word personal statement and then copy/pasting that into the Common App. That tactic will likely backfire on a student since AI detectors like GPTzero can be used by an admissions office. Also, when using AI on essays, you run the risk of sounding completely unauthentic in an essay. Lastly, because of the complication of AU hallucinations that can occur, make sure to verify all facts on a college’s website or another trusted source. When using AI in schoolwork, students should always ask the teacher what’s permissible and understand how they prefer AI be cited in their work. 

  1. Brainstorming – A student can use AI to brainstorm ideas for personal statements, college essays, or short responses. Remember that all components of the application should be written in the student’s voice. If you use AI at all, like ChatGPT or Perplexity, we also recommend running it through an AI Detector, like GPTZero to ensure you’re not crossing any lines.  Sample Prompt: "Give me suggestions for personal essay topics for a high school student who is a future environmental scientist and is civic-minded" 

  2. Researching Colleges – A student can ask for information about specific colleges, including their programs, campus life, and any other details that can aid in decision-making. Make sure to always double-check that information on the college's website and/or with the college's admissions officer, since these tools can make mistakes or have old information.  Sample Prompt: "Tell me which college has undergraduate programs in landscape architecture." 

  3. Career Guidance – AI tools can provide insights into different career fields, helping students make more informed decisions about their academic and career goals. Sample Prompt: "Tell me how someone can become a medical doctor specializing in pediatrics." OR  "Give me some online resources for high schoolers who want to research how to become a medical doctor."

  4. Test Prep – Students can use these tools to request tips and strategies for standardized tests such as the SAT or ACT. While ChatGPT doesn't have real-time updates, it can provide general advice on study methods and test-taking strategies. There are also several AI test prep services that use machine-learning algorithms to give users questions they need help with (instead of questions they already know how to solve), like R Test or Acely Sample Prompt: "Give me some strategies to score well on the SAT." OR “Create a study plan for me to do my best on my SATs, which is in 3 months from today.”

  5. Doing Independent Research Projects – These tools can help you generate ideas for independent research projects in the field of study a student is interested in. There are also some academic research paper assistants available, like Jenni AI, but we caution against using them at the high school level. Lumiere Education does a deep-dive on the 10 best AI research tools for high school students – check it out here! Sample Prompt: "Give me some ideas for an independent research project in computer science that I can do as a high schooler.”

  6. College Selection – Use AI to get guidance on selecting the right colleges based on personal preferences, academic goals, and other factors. They can especially be helpful in helping to create a list of potential schools. Sample Prompt: "Give me a list of schools that have undergraduate business schools that have programs in Marketing."

  7. Choosing Extracurricular Activities and Programs – Seek advice on what programs or organizations are out there that may align with your application persona. For example, if you're searching for a summer program and your application persona is a, "civic-minded future environmental scientist", then try this prompt: Sample Prompt: "What are some summer programs for a high school student who is interested in environmental science that involve research?" 

  8. Helping You Find Scholarships and Financial Aid Information - Request information on available scholarships and tips on applying for financial aid. ChatGPT can offer general advice on navigating the financial aspect of college.  Sample Prompt: "Tell me some good online websites that can allow me to search for college scholarships?"  OR   "I'm a parent of a high school LatinX student in the Houston, TX area. Tell me some good online websites that can allow me to search for college scholarships?"

  9. Passion Projects – If you’re taking on a passion project while in high school, using AI can help you brainstorm ideas for the project or super-charging it or marketing it. Maybe you’re developing an app (try Momen or Softr), creating a website (try Wix or Jimbo) or creating a podcast (try Play).  Sample Prompt: “What are some passion projects for a high schooler interested in the stock market and social justice?” 

  10. Summarizing Large Amount of Information – If a high schooler is overwhelmed by the large amounts of information they’re getting on the colleges or in their schoolwork, AI can be used to summarize it efficiently and effectively. There’s many AI-based summarization techniques, like extractive summarization or abstractive summarization, but both work similarly in providing the most important points of a texts. Reading the entire text is always recommended, but an abstract can often provide much-needed clarity.  Sample Prompt: “Provide a summary of Mary-Jane Schneider’s Introduction to Public Health”

  11. College Interview Preparation - Practice for college interviews by having mock interviews with AI tools like ChatGPT. This can help improve communication skills and confidence. Sample Prompt: "Give me a list of questions my college interviewer could ask me and sample responses to those questions"

AI Tools to Check Out: 

General Question and Answer: ChatGPT or Perplexity

AI Detector: GPTZero 

Test Prep: R Test or Acely

Text to Speech: Speechify 

Monitor changes on website: Browse AI 

Making Decisions: Rationale 

Idea to Video:  Pika 

App Design: Momen or Softr

Website Design: Wix or Jimbo 

Text to Speech (for podcasts and more): Play 

The College Admissions Book Club is an online college admissions book club for parents of teens. Their goal is to create a culture of positivity around the whole college admissions process, both for parents and their kids! Their blog offers essentials like a comprehensive college prep Timeline, how to research colleges and careers, talking to teens about college, how to pick the right extracurriculars, essay writing strategies and tons more!   



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