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Is AI Slowly Changing College Admission?




I was looking up different topics to discuss this week and came across this interesting tidbit.  As we sit back and look at our technology and how it is expanding, it is quite inevitable that this will take place (or already taking place).  


In applying to college, is it that our teens are working to woo actual people or an AI system?  Will the use of words matter in an essay if your primary audience is a machine?  Can they use trigger words that AI might be programmed to find?  (See this article written by Brian Clark in Copyblogger posted 1/11/21 - It is very interesting and helpful for any situation.)  65 Trigger Words and Phrases for Powerful Content - Copyblogger



If your teen is writing an essay for a computer, then why not just use Chat GPT?  Who knows computers better than computers? These two systems can battle it out and determine your teen's college choice.


Those were my questions as I went down this rabbit hole of the AI programing mystery.  Call me old school but I am not crazy about using a cold computer to decide if my kid gets out of the first round of a college admission decision.  This whole process reminds me of using one of those claw machines that you find in an arcade that may or may not pick a prize you want (and usually doesn't as i naively found out when I was 10).


From an article published by the U.S. News, “​​Fifty percent of higher education admissions offices are using AI, according to a September 2023 survey by Intelligent, an online magazine focused on higher education. That number is expected to rise to more than 80% in 2024, according to the survey, which polled nearly 400 education professionals in both K-12 and higher education.” 



So, will this replace any human element in the admissions process?  In most of the admissions offices AI is being used to help lighten the load for the human workers.  (To me, it feels so weird to write that.)  In my research it looks as if AI is reviewing GPAs, transcripts and recommendation letters.  To me that is a bit disheartening since I have written several recommendation letters for my students and just thinking that a computer will be mindlessly sorting out my carefully chosen words is extremely annoying.  AI is also used as a form of communication with the students as some sort of a chatbot or automated messages.  I also found that some colleges use AI to conduct interviews.  (I am still wondering how that happens.  I guess I will have to do more research.)


Many colleges claim that the admission process is very much based on a blueprint of the needs of the institution so it seems to be quite algorithmic anyway.  If the AI program can fulfill the easily automated part of this process then the admission officers can focus on the human element such as scholarships and financial aid.  Which is interesting because I always thought that they had a special department for that.  I am pretty certain that was how it worked when I went to college back in the day.


Although, schools with rigorous standards of application still depend on their human workers to conduct interviews and look over the applications.  They still have the human element to determine the exact qualifications and needs of each individual student.


If we look at Rutgers University in New Jersey and their self reported GPA system, it seems as if this program would be advantageous to both student and university.  I mean, if a teenager knows that they have to plug in their grade into the university computer system every semester, they will be highly motivated to keep up their schoolwork.  And in turn, the university gets to watch the students’ progress and see exactly how serious they are about attending the school.  Of course this is not AI but definitely computer related.


But, I believe I am presenting more pitfalls than possibilities here and I admit I am biased towards my human counterparts.  I know that humans are capable of making mistakes but they are also capable of understanding the written word in a way a computer cannot.


So let’s look at the pros and cons:


Pros ----


One: An AI can complete data collection and analysis more quickly than a human admission officer.


Two: Being able to share data and scoring guides for the decision process with all applicants will create more transparency.


Three: Will eliminate any biases that a human might have towards a certain type of student.


Four: More consistent and quicker decisions.


Five: More frequent communication with the applicants.



Cons


One: I may sound old fashioned but computers cannot do what humans can.  They are not even close. A computer will only do what it is programmed to do. It cannot determine if you are honestly someone who can make your future happen or even your maturity as a teen.   If your resume doesn’t fit in with the computer program, there is no wiggle room (even if you have a special talent that can benefit the university).


Two: Does your teen really need to know if they are admitted right now? I do not think that makes a huge difference.  Be patient, it will all fall together.


Three: Yes, AI eliminates bias, but it also eliminates human understanding. And, who knows if the AI program has been programmed to hold bias. Computers are only as biased as the human programmers.


Four: The more consistent and quick decisions could come at a cost to your teen (such as not being accepted even though he/she deserves to be).


Five: As far as the frequent communication, all YOUR TEEN has to do is make the phone calls and be consistent with their communication.  I would never leave it all up to a computer.


Now I know I just negated all of my “Pros” but I am just trying to see both sides of each statement and let you be the judge.  We all know there are always two sides and it is up to all of us to understand which works better for our college choices and our future.  Do some research before you apply to a college and see exactly how their admission process works. If you do not like what you see, you have the right not to apply.


AND look to SEE who FUNDS the college or university. Who are their donors? I hate to say this but the more I learn about the modern college system, the more suspicious I get about their true intentions. (I will write a blog about that when I am ready.)


As a fellow mom, I hope this helps you on your college journey!  If you have any questions, send them on over to monteiromusicstudio@gmail.com


OR join us on our FB page:  https://www.facebook.com/getinpracticeroom/

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Hope to see you there!

Susan


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