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Artificial Intelligence and Admissions



For decades, the application review process within higher education has been handled by admissions officers or review committees. In most scenarios, applications are reviewed with a holistic process (an exception would be the state of Texas’s auto admit policy—which applies to the top 6% of students within their high school class applying to UT Austin and the top 10% at other Texas universities like Texas A&M). Holistic review essentially means the college is looking at all attributes of an applicant’s profile, including their grades, test scores, activities, awards, recommendations, and essays. However, some schools are no longer utilizing school representatives to conduct preliminary review, instead using Artificial Intelligence (AI) programs in the changing digital world. 


The uses of AI in admissions

According to a September 2023 survey by Intelligent, 50% of higher education admissions offices are currently using AI in their review process. Some uses for AI in the college admissions process include: 1) determining whether essays or written responses have been computer-generated, 2) reviewing personal essays, transcripts, and/or recommendations, and 3) conducting preliminary interviews with candidates. Among respondents currently using AI in admissions, 87% say the AI “sometimes” (43%) or “always” (44%) makes the final decision to admit the applicant or not. 


What is the most prominent use of AI? 

Most admissions officers use AI to sort transcripts by minimum GPA and test scores and to determine whether recommendations are generally positive without potential red flags.


Are some schools more likely to use AI than others?

Highly selective schools with acceptance rates below 10% are less likely to use AI in admissions due to their nuanced review process, which favors final decisions being made by humans. Schools that make decisions using a formula or rubric to determine whether a student fits within the schools’ admissions criteria (ex: does the student meet a certain GPA or standardized test score?), have begun using AI to make some of the initial screening decisions to eliminate applications that automatically don’t qualify. Using these tools allows admissions officers to “spot check” admissions decisions, giving them more time to focus on aspects like scholarships and financial aid. 


What are the concerns with AI and admissions? 

About 2 out of 3 admissions professionals are concerned with the ethics of AI and admissions. Some concerns include: 1) whether circumstances and context will be taken into account without the human element, giving major decision-making capabilities to something nonhuman, 2) the complications of using communication and data analysis in the admissions process, and 3) the occurrences of certain biases. 


What does this mean for students applying to college in the future? 

The most predictable use of AI in the future will be software used to run transcripts similar to a model at Rutgers University, which recalculates grades and GPA by removing non-academic courses to help determine whether a student will be successful at their school. This technology will also allow schools to scrape information from a student’s transcript to identify how the student performed in classes related to their major of interest. Students applying to colleges should not fear AI, but should note that since AI is being used for preliminary review of their application, that important factors like GPA (with an emphasis on classes related to their major), standardized scores, and extracurriculars/awards are becoming even more important. 


What you can do

To improve your admissions chances, prioritize:

  • Selecting relevant and challenging courses, especially AP or IB courses that relate to your major!

  • Meeting standardized test score goals—your target score depends on the schools you are applying to!

  • Pursuing awards and leadership activities. These are great ways to demonstrate your integrity and knowledge! 

  • Strategizing how to select and organize your activities and resume. Focus on opportunities related to your major first! 


College essays and AI

Don’t use Chatbots or other AI to assist with your college essays! Colleges are also starting to use technology to detect AI-generated content (students caught using AI may not be eligible for acceptance). Consider reaching out to one of our B2A counselors if you need help brainstorming, outlining, or to receive feedback on drafted materials. We offer 1:1 College Admissions Specialist (CAS) hours, or you may be interested in signing up for our Gateway program! Gateway is designed to guide students through their college application process with a designated Gateway counselor. You'll plan and work on your essays for 5 schools with someone who manages your entire college admissions strategy. Not only that, you'll get additional guidance from essay specialists!


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For individualized recommendations that fit YOUR goals, schedule a 1:1 meeting with a B2A College Admissions Counselor or sign up for our Steps Program, which helps with planning your high school years to put yourself in a better position for college admissions.

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