Is ChatGPT a threat to college essay coaching? Here’s why we say no.

A few weeks ago, we hosted a discussion about the “threat” of ChatGPT to college essay coaching with more than 100 colleagues. The very same day, OpenAI officially launched GPT4.

As you can see, there’s always a shiny new object on the horizon.

But just because we were a few hours behind on the latest and greatest AI tool, our message was not out of date: pay attention, but don’t freak out.

We understand if you might be feeling ungrounded by the threat of AI.  You’re not alone. Keep in mind, the real threat is not about a bot; it’s about distractions. Just pay attention to the distractions, so you can counteract them when working with your students and parents.

We received hundreds of questions from counselors, independent educational consultants, and teachers who registered for the event, and those questions fell into distinct categories: prevention, detection/punishment, and usage.

Prevention: How do I keep students from using ChatGPT to write essays?

  • What do you warn students about when you talk about ChatGPT?
  • How do I address the claims of a “well-meaning” student who wants to use Chat-GPT simply to “generate ideas” – not to plagiarize?

Detection/Punishment: What do I do if I discover a student is using ChatGPT?

  • How do we have the conversation with a student if the essay sounds to our ear like it was written by AI?
  • Will colleges be purchasing the software that detects ChatGPT?
  • Are there resources available to effectively determine if a student’s work has been produced by an AI source?
  • I know there’s a way to submit an essay to check if it’s plagiarized. Is there a place yet where we can run it through something to check if it’s AI?
  • Do you feel the need to ask students if they have used ChatGPT and what if they say they didn’t, but you still suspect.

Usage: How can I use ChatGPT in my school or private consulting practice?

  • Should we use ChatGPT to help students brainstorm for essay ideas?
  • We need to work with artificial intelligence/machine learning because it’s here and use it as a tool. How do we integrate it ethically?
  • Is it ever alright for a student to start with AI generated text and adapt it to their final product?

You can listen to our responses by checking out the recording on the roundtable replay page.

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.