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Rethinking College Admissions and Applications with an Eye on AI

Schools, colleges & students’ families must make clear that while ChatGPT is fine for structuring college essays, plagiarism is not.

Applying to college is a high-stakes process for students, a crucible of stress and expectations. Many young people feel their fates ride on finding just the right college to reach their dreams. As professionals who have supported high school students through thousands of college admission journeys, we believe the process is ripe for the use of ChatGPT, a powerful new artificial intelligence writing tool.

The entry point is likely to be the college essay, a task many young people find immobilizing. Anyone who works in college admissions must familiarize themselves with ChatGPT and begin to grapple with how the tool might enter into student work in the very near future.

If you haven’t given ChatGPT a try, you should. When asked to write a 500-word essay suitable for college admission, the computer produced a piece in seconds about a student’s interest in science and technology, work on the high school robotics team and desire to be part of a college community. It was a decent response to a basic prompt.

A more complex prompt left no question about the program’s strength: “Write a 500-word college admission essay that tells a dramatic story of a high schooler overcoming something significant in their life. Include references to places in their hometown of Philadelphia and a quote from a famous Philly artist.” The response was well-rounded and intriguing. It described the student coming out from behind an older brother’s shadow through community service using a quote from Will Smith and talked about learning and growing. Any counselor would have believed this was a well-written, human-authored essay.

This nuance is unprecedented, and already, schools in New York are banning access. However, the use of this technology is unavoidable. ChatGPT is on a path to shake up college admissions, and whether schools like it or not, students, admissions professionals and high school counselors must prepare. 

While the college application is full of basic demographic and academic questions, the essay is one of the few areas where students are expected to express aspects of themself they feel are important and let their voices be heard. The stress of conveying the right set of values, or telling a good story, or sharing something deep and heartfelt in 650 words can be paralyzing. Students can spend months on just this one task. 

ChatGPT can help. The program can write an outline to remove writer’s block and offer suggestions for building on students’ existing work. Used responsibly, it functions as a powerful writing companion.

But plagiarism is a serious risk, and educators must send a loud and clear message that it is wrong. ChatGPT adds a new variable to the equation because stealing from a computer may seem less harmful than stealing from a human. However, the program is built using input from countless writing samples from real humans. Passing off the work of ChatGPT as one’s own is plagiarism, plain and simple. This is where the conversation among students, teachers, counselors and parents needs to start.

High school educators should engage students in discussions about the ethics of using artificial intelligence and what constitutes plagiarism. AI has implications in a wide variety of subject areas, so counselors could partner with teachers to discuss its potential use in careers students may pursue. Counselors should also reiterate the importance of students telling their own, original story in their essay and should introduce ChatGPT to students’ family members so they can discuss it at home as well.

Admission offices that rely on the essay might expand their use of interviews, video submissions and/or writing samples that show a student’s response to teacher feedback. While these practices are time-intensive for application readers who are already stretched thin, they get to the heart of who a student is. At the same time, each college’s website should mention ChatGPT with a blurb from the admissions team about how they believe it should be used. 

None of these are perfect solutions. But banning ChatGPT or trying to avoid the topic by downplaying AI’s impact will not change the reality of the new college admissions or technology landscape. High school and college stakeholders must work together to build on existing admissions practices and address the inevitability of ChatGPT directly. 

This is an opportunity for college admissions stakeholders to collectively brainstorm novel approaches to this novel issue.

This story was produced by The 74, a non-profit, independent news organization focused on education in America.

Resources for students interested in STEM Careers

Students who are in interested in pursuing STEM careers (science, technology, engineering & math) have lots of opportunities. The demand for talents in these fields have never been higher. Students who start learning relevant skills now will set themselves up for a successful future and excellent earning potential.

Here are some great resources you can point those students to that may help them learn more about the possibilities these careers offer them:

1. Codeacademy

Codeacademy is a well-known online tool for learning programming skills. Students can start learning a variety of in-demand programming languages for free, such as Python, Java, HTML, and CSS. It’s a great way for students to build their basic programming knowledge and see which languages they enjoy the most.

2. Khan Academy

This is a nonprofit that offers a wide range of resources for students who are interested in programming. Many of Khan Academy’s courses offer interactive and fun learning exercises that will engage students and help keep them interested in technology careers.

3. Make

A website dedicated to sharing projects and tutorials from makers all over the world, students can get step-by-step instructions for a range of DIY technology projects. Students can explore robotics, 3-D printing, and more. It’s a great way for tinkerers to build skills and focus on their areas of interest.

4. STEM Jobs

If students want to know more about the different job options for computer engineering and technology, and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) fields in general, then they might want to check out STEM Jobs. This website can help students learn more about different career paths they can take and what kinds of skills are required for success in these careers.

STEM Jobs also offers profiles of people who work in different STEM fields so students can understand more about the pros and cons of each career and what an average day on the job might look like. The website has job search tools so students can get an idea of what skills employers are currently looking for.

5. Girls Who Code

Getting more girls interested in STEM careers is critical. Unfortunately, there are many roadblocks to getting more women working in these fields. To help girls maintain their enthusiasm and to have a support system, gender-specific resources, like Girls Who Code, can help.

In addition to offering a variety of programs that teach girls to code and prepare them for jobs in the tech industry, Girls Who Code also helps girls set up coding clubs at their schools. They also know the power of positive role models and feature profiles of female tech leaders and innovators.

6. IEEE TryEngineering

Engineering is an exciting career option with almost unlimited areas of study. Students can use IEEE TryEngineering to help students decide which type of engineering matches their interests. They can also find resources and games that will help introduce them to the field of engineering and the day-to-day work of engineers.

7. Raspberry Pi

A versatile, inexpensive, and tiny computer, Raspberry Pi is a great piece of hardware for students to explore programming, robotics, and more. There are lots of resources and tutorials for using Raspberry Pi, so students can explore on their own! The Raspberry Pi Foundation even offers a showcase for “young tech creators” worldwide for students to show off their work, called Coolest Projects.

8. TED Talks

Although most technology and computing curriculums focus solely on tech skills, students who want to get into these fields also need to have solid communication skills. Interpersonal skills, public speaking, leadership, and other “soft” skills often get neglected. Students who are interested in founding their own tech companies will also need business knowledge.

TED Talks are a great way for students to start learning about these skills from successful business and technology leaders. They’re free, interesting, and cover a wide range of topics!

9. Coursera

With an extensive library of free and paid courses on every topic imaginable, Coursera is a great place for students to look when they want to learn a specific skill. From technical skills to interpersonal skills, Coursera is a fantastic starting point for students.

Encourage Students’ Interest in STEM Careers

When selecting resources to recommend for students interested in technology, it’s important to prioritize accessibility and engagement. Each student’s situation is different, but there are countless resources available that will help to encourage students’ interests and help them find the field they’re most passionate about.

These 9 resources are just a starting point. It’s never been easier to find free and accessible information to prepare students for their future careers!

Transferring to High School? Remember the Five Cs

This is the time of year when counselor chat rooms are filled with posts like “Thinking about interviewing for a high school counseling position. Thoughts?”

You bet. It’s as easy as remembering the five Cs.

Curriculum Most of the people on hiring committees don’t know that, just like there’s a math curriculum and an English curriculum, high schools are supposed to have a counseling curriculum. Once you shake hands, pass out a one pager (front side only) of your version of a high school counseling curriculum, delineated by grade level outcomes for each of the three key counseling services—social/emotional growth, academic progress, and college/career planning. Add your contact information, and you’re off to a good start. This handout gives you a nice overview to consider.

Career You really need to make sure there’s more to this section than an interest inventory, resume preparation, and interviewing skills. Getting students on job sites, bringing employers into the school, lessons on hot national and regional jobs and soft skills, and a comprehensive aptitude test (by end of tenth grade, so students can plan schedules) are the minimums here—here’s a nice overview to guide you.

College This tends to be the one area most interviewees fluff, simply because their training in this area was just so weak. Most members of hiring committees know nothing about college counseling either, but don’t leave this to chance. View this article and its links, and get a copy of the high school’s profile, which should show where students attend college. Once you get the job, take a brief course that covers these topics in detail, like a new one from NACAC. And seriously—if you don’t think part of your high school job is to help kids with college or college applications, stay where you are.

Credits Counselors often struggle with reviewing students’ progress towards graduation, and with good reason—like schedule changes, this isn’t a counseling task. Still, it ends up in our offices, so finding an effective, efficient way to complete this work is essential. It’s unlikely you’ll get asked about this in an interview, other than the occasional question where you acknowledge this is part of the work—but again, if this isn’t your cup of tea, high school may not be for you.

Crisis Not all of the social/emotional counseling work is on the urgent end, but studies suggest more students need affective support in this post-COVID era. Now is the time to pull out those grad school textbooks on developmental psych, and get current on what other schools are doing in this area. If there’s a community mental health service in the town, it wouldn’t hurt to check in with them and see what they’re offering teens as well. No point in reinventing the wheel.

The Question That Ends the Interview, For Better or Worse If you do interview for a high school position, it’s likely you will get asked what appears to be a pretty basic question—“Why do you want to work at the high school level?” You need to construct an answer that conveys what you hope to give to the high school, and what you’re looking forward to doing, not what you’re tired of in your current job. “I’d love to work with students who speak in full sentences” may be the truth, but that doesn’t give the committee a lot of inspiration. Talk about your interests, your strengths, and what you think high school students need from their counselors. They’re looking for a reason to hire you. Hand it to them.

Patrick O’Connor is a contributing writer to High School Counselor Week and a former High School Counselor at Cranbrook Schools in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan

Top 10 Entry-Level Remote Careers for New Graduates

Despite a changing job marketplace and uncertain economy, the National Association of Colleges and Employers reports that employers plan to hire 3.9 percent more graduates from the Class of 2023 than from the Class of 2022. For new Gen Z grads and job seekers in particular, remote and hybrid work options remain a priority when looking for a post-college career. In fact, recent studies have found nearly a quarter of Gen Z students and new grads ranked remote work as the most important job factor, and more than three out of five said they prefer a hybrid environment.

Flexjobs recently published the top 10 entry-level remote careers for graduates. According to their research, they are:

The following categories are ordered from highest to lowest according to the number of remote entry-level positions available to job seekers as of April 30, 2023.

  1. Customer Service
  2. Accounting & Finance
  3. Medical & Health
  4. Administrative
  5. Bilingual
  6. Computer & IT
  7. Bookkeeping
  8. Sales
  9. Marketing
  10. HR & Recruiting

The most common entry-level job titles with remote work opportunities during that same time period include: 

  1. Administrative Assistant
  2. Customer Service Representative
  3. Business Development Representative
  4. Data Analyst
  5. Graphic Designer
  6. Marketing Coordinator
  7. Staff Accountant
  8. Therapist

Careers in Healthcare

Helping Students Fuel Their Passion for Healthcare Before Heading to College

As a counselor, it’s not always easy to spark excitement and foster passion in your students. However, there are some key practices that you can engage in to help foster curiosity in your students.

When it comes to healthcare, it can be beneficial to instill in your students a certain gusto that they can take with them into their higher education career. As such, knowing some keyways to excite your students about healthcare can be extremely helpful.

Here is helping students fuel their passion for healthcare before heading to college.

Share Information About Various Career Paths in Healthcare

While many people think of either doctors or nurses when thinking about healthcare careers, the truth is that there are far more types of professionals in the field. From travel respiratory therapists to nurse practitioners with private practices, the professional world of healthcare is robust and heavily varied.

To truly spark excitement and interest in your students, it’s important to show them the many options they have available to them in healthcare. In addition, it can help to expose them to the many opportunities that certain professionals in healthcare have to start their own businesses.

By helping your students understand their healthcare career options, you can help them narrow down which path is right for them. Once they find one that they like, students are far more likely to continue doing research on their own and carrying their newfound zeal with them to college.

Connect Students with Shadowing or Internship Opportunities

Though researching jobs may be somewhat interesting, this process will never be quite as gripping as the experience of actually getting into the field. This being the case, pairing your students with shadowing and internship opportunities in the healthcare field can be an incredibly effective way to get them excited.

Some common options that you can help students find include shadowing opportunities at hospitals, internships at pharmacies, and internships in medical labs. Depending on the temperaments and interests of individual students, you’ll be able to match them with the right opportunities for their unique needs.

Hopefully, actually being in the field and experiencing what it’s like to work in these healthcare roles will help spark feelings of passion in your students. As a result, they’ll be able to step into their higher education pursuits with a sense of excitement about healthcare.

Point Students in the Right Academic Direction

For many students, a foundational understanding of certain topics makes it easier to thrive when pursuing higher education in a healthcare-related field. To give your students a taste of what’s to come and ensure that they enjoy it, it’s important to steer them in the right academic direction.

Some typical subjects that students will need to study before exploring healthcare roles include biology, anatomy, and chemistry. By pursuing more electives around these relevant subjects, students will have more opportunities to develop a strong passion for them.

Ultimately, having a foundational understanding of relevant topics will put students in a better position to thrive in their higher education pursuits. This can translate into them feeling more confident in their decision to pursue a role in healthcare as well as in their own abilities.

As such, making sure students know which classes they should be focusing on before they graduate can help them keep and cultivate their passion for healthcare.

Help Students Plan for Their Dream Healthcare Careers

Whether a student wants to be a chiropractor, a doctor, or in a healthcare management role, showing them a clear path to stepping into their dream role is key. The more clarity they have around the process of achieving their career goals, the more likely they’ll feel driven and motivated to achieve them.

It can be helpful to have brochures for various programs for a variety of different healthcare-related programs. By being able to give these to students and explain the processes, you’ll be able to give students an understanding of the amount of time and work they’ll need to put in to reach their career goals.

By understanding the process of stepping into their dream healthcare roles, students can mentally prepare themselves for their educational journey. As a result, they’ll be better equipped to deal with feelings of overwhelm that arise and stay passionate about healthcare. Consequently, helping students plan their journey as they pursue their careers is key to helping them stay excited about healthcare.

You Can Help Students Get Fired Up About a Career in Healthcare

Healthcare careers can offer students stability and fulfillment in their professional lives. Unfortunately, it’s not always easy to get them to feel passionate about healthcare before heading off to college. Thankfully, there are keyways to get them excited about pursuing a healthcare role. From exposing them to various healthcare jobs to helping them chart a course for their personal career, you can make a huge impact on their levels of excitement.

Tell Your Students to Trust Themselves!

This time of year, we talk to a lot of high school counselors and other professionals about gearing up for another college application season.

We’d like to share a favorite message we tell our own students at the beginning of every season.

Trust yourself. This is your journey, so own the process.

When you are done, you will be a more confident, empowered writer, ready for college and your future.

We hope our message resonates with you as you enter another college admissions cycle.

Students are inundated so much inaccurate and out-of-context information about admissions and the essay, they may start to second guess themselves. That won’t help them.

Let’s help them.

Protect them a little bit from all that noise.

Cheer them on; help them feel good.


Before your students start prep work for any college essay, just talk to them.

Tell your students they have something important to share.

Tell them colleges want to hear what they have to say.

Make sure your students know that to succeed, they must trust their own words, style, and voice.  

Tell them you trust them. And remind them to trust themselves.

Every year, we work with students who tell us they cannot write; they don’t believe in themselves.

When that happens, we challenge them.

We ask, Can you think?

They always say yes.

We respond: Well, then, you can write.

Works like a charm. Every time.

The college essay is a thinking task as much as it is a writing task. And if your students can think, they can write.

There’s more about this, and other great tips for student and parents, in our book for students, How to Write an Effective College Application Essay: the Inside Scoop for Students. You can download a free copy here.

Feel free to share it with your families.

Wishing you a successful season.

Kim Lifton, is the President of Wow Writing Workshop. Her articles on the college essay appear regularly in print and on the web, and her work has been featured in a variety of newspapers, magazines, and online publications. Kim is a former newspaper reporter and corporate communications manager with a BA in Journalism from Michigan State University. You can email Kim anytime about the college essay; she will always respond

Things Your Class of 2024 Should be Doing Over the Summer

As the end of the school year approaches, many students are already thinking ahead to the next academic year. For high school students, senior year is an important time that requires preparation and planning. Here are some things your students can do over the summer to get ready for their senior year of high school:

  1. Research colleges and universities

If they plan to attend college after graduation, it’s important to start researching potential schools and programs early. Use the summer to explore different college websites and learn about their admission requirements, tuition fees, and scholarship opportunities. They can also attend college fairs and visit campuses to get a feel for the school’s atmosphere and student life.

  1. Work on college application materials

Senior year means college applications, and the summer is a great time to start working on them. Begin by creating a list of schools they plan to apply to and identifying their application deadlines. They can also start drafting their personal statement and preparing their resume or activity list. This will help them stay on track and avoid last-minute stress.

  1. Build their resume

Senior year is a crucial time for college applications, and their resume can make a big difference. Use the summer to build their resume by volunteering, taking on internships, or working part-time jobs. These experiences can demonstrate skills and interests to college admissions committees and potential employers.

  1. Prep for standardized tests

Standardized tests such as the SAT and ACT are important for college admission, so it’s important to prepare early. Consider taking a summer test prep course, hiring a tutor, or using online resources to help their study. Start by taking a practice test to identify areas where they need improvement and create a study plan to help them achieve their goal scores.

  1. Explore their interests

Senior year can be stressful, so take advantage of the summer to explore interests and passions. Join a club, take a class, or attend a workshop in an area that interests them. This can help them develop skills, meet new people, and discover new opportunities.

  1. Get organized

Senior year can be overwhelming with college applications, coursework, and extracurricular activities. Use the summer to get organized by creating a planner or calendar to help them manage their time. They can also create a list of important deadlines and set reminders to ensure they don’t miss anything.

In conclusion, senior year is an important time in a high school student’s life, and the summer is a great opportunity to prepare for it. By researching colleges, working on college application materials, building their resume, prepping for standardized tests, exploring their interests, and getting organized, they can set themselves up for a successful senior year and beyond.

You’ve Decided….So What’s Next? (Free Archived Webinar)

Your student has decided on which school he/she will attend. Now what? Here is a great webinar that lays out everything that your students should do before setting foot on campus this Fall.

The webinar is hosted by Kristina Dooley, President of Estrela Consulting, Elizabeth Pyle, Founder & President of College Success Plan and Catherine Davenport, VP of Enrollment & Dean of Admissions of Dickinson College.

Here is the registration link – You’ve Decided…..So What’s Next Webinar

10 Essential Tips to Help you be the Best Counselor you can be!

You play a crucial role in guiding students through one of the most important phases of their lives. You help them navigate the challenges of adolescence, choose the right academic path, and prepare for life beyond high school. However, being a counselor is no easy task. It requires a combination of compassion, patience, and expertise to help your students succeed. Here are 10 tips to help you do your job better:

  1. Build relationships with your students – Students are more likely to trust and open up to someone they feel comfortable around. By building a relationship with your students, you can help them feel supported and heard.
  2. Communicate effectively with parents and teachers – Collaborating with parents and teachers is essential to help students achieve their goals. Make sure you keep all parties informed and work together to create a supportive environment.
  3. Stay up to date with trends and resources – As a counselor, it’s important to stay informed about the latest trends and resources related to education and mental health. Attend conferences, read articles, and network with other professionals in your field.
  4. Advocate for your students – Sometimes, students may need additional support to succeed. As a counselor, it’s your job to advocate for your students and help them get the resources they need to thrive.
  5. Create a safe and welcoming environment – Your office should be a space where students feel safe and welcomed. Consider adding calming elements like plants, music, or comfortable seating to create a relaxing atmosphere.
  6. Be knowledgeable about college applications and scholarships – Many high school students aspire to attend college, but the application process can be overwhelming. Be knowledgeable about the requirements and deadlines and help your students prepare for college admission tests.
  7. Be an active listener – Active listening is a critical skill for counselors. Be present in the conversation, listen carefully to what your students are saying, and ask questions to clarify any confusion.
  8. Use data to guide your counseling – Data can be an excellent tool to help you identify areas where your students may need additional support. Use test scores, attendance records, and other metrics to guide your counseling.
  9. Encourage self-reflection – Encouraging students to reflect on their feelings and experiences can help them develop self-awareness and emotional intelligence. Help them identify their strengths and weaknesses and set realistic goals for themselves.
  10. Take care of yourself – Finally, don’t forget to take care of yourself. Counseling can be emotionally draining, so make sure you take time to rest, exercise, and do things that make you happy.

As a high school counselor, your job is to help students succeed academically and emotionally. By following these tips, you can create a supportive environment that helps your students achieve their goals. Remember, your role is essential, and your work is appreciated by the students, parents, and teachers whose lives you touch.

Preparing High School Seniors for College Curriculum, Both in Online and Traditional Settings

It’s a hard time being a high school senior getting ready for college. Student debt levels are at an all-time high, the job market continues to shift in uncertain directions, and universities all across the country are still recovering from the pandemic.

As a guidance counselor, your job is to help prepare your seniors for college, be they getting ready for online classes, traditional schooling, or some hybridized combination of both. In this article, we take a look at some of the most important issues weighing on the minds of incoming college freshmen.

How Things Are Different

Of course, counselors have been getting kids ready to go to college forever. It’s the job, right? How have things changed in the last few years to reshape that responsibility?

The biggest change has likely been the proliferation of remote learning. Where once online school was obscure and even stigmatized, it is now mainstream. Many students who attend in-person universities will wind up taking at least a few online classes during their time in college.

While the learning process remains much the same in remote classes, there are unique responsibilities that your students should prepare themselves for.

  • Self-guided: A good deal of remote work is self-guided. Of course, to be successful at college, students do need to be able to take initiative. This need is simply greater in the online setting. Often, classes will simply ask their students to complete a certain amount of work each week. They may not have any zoom classes at all, putting a bigger premium on being able to motivate yourself to work.
  • A different way of learning: Kids should also understand that learning on a screen is biologically different than learning in person. The human mind processes screen-based learning differently. Study after study shows that the human mind places a lower priority on facts that are presented on a screen. The why of it isn’t entirely understood yet, but we do know that learning effectively online requires a heightened degree of effort.

Fortunately, most high school seniors will be at least somewhat acquainted with the concept of remote learning thanks to the pandemic. However, it’s still a good idea to go over their new responsibilities with them. Self-guided learning in high school is much different than it is in college. Without the structure of home life as an anchor, many new college students struggle to establish the firm study habits that are required for college success.


The average college student graduates without even knowing how to make a budget. Unacceptable as that is, it’s also indicative of another problem— high school students are going into an independent setting with no knowledge of money.

Not only will an understanding of finance help them navigate the college world, but it may also inform their decision of where they go. It’s strange to think that kids make one of the biggest financial choices of their lives— short only of buying a house— without even realizing it. A little bit of financial wisdom can be enormously beneficial as they weigh their student loan options.

Of course, there is only so much that can be done at this stage in the game. A senior poised to graduate won’t become an expert in finance overnight. More and more high schools across the country are emphasizing financial instruction for underclasspeople for precisely that reason.

Work Gets Harder

College can be a big culture shock for freshmen. It’s not just that they are away from home for the first time. It’s the work itself. In high school, class difficulty increases very gradually and sometimes not at all. It’s not like that in college.

Universities have high standards and the teachers, though typically accommodating, are often disinclined to make special efforts to help students out. It is an adult world, filled with adult expectations. Kids who don’t know how to buckle down and study may have a tough time.

College-level classes are a great way to get students ready for university life while still enjoying the comforts of home. While not every student is eligible to take these classes in high school, it is a good opportunity to get a taste of university expectations while also saving a pretty decent chunk of money. Consider encouraging eligible students to take advantage of every college-level class that they can.

Encourage Extracurricular Involvement

Extracurriculars are a good way to provide high school students with an extra degree of responsibility. This can be a useful asset in helping them prepare for the unique demands of university life.

Extracurriculars also have the unique benefit of helping students stand out in their applications. While senior year may be a little late to start padding out a resume, every little bit counts, so encourage your students to get involved in things they are interested in.


Being a freshman in college has never been easy. However, as the world of education continues to shift into a new phase— an age of digitalization— kids currently in the educational system are being uniquely exposed to the influx of technology in the classroom.

While Covid did accelerate the digitalization of school work, it is safe to say that the world of education remains in a state of growing pains.

Of course, kids are tough. With your help, they will be able to prepare for school and enjoy a fruitful university experience.

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