To AI or not?
The short answer is no. Chat-based AI bots make for great publicity videos and have their place in shaping how we learn in the future. However, when it comes to composing essays, what they do is basically surveying a vast trove of existing content and then create sentences by pattern matching.
Admissions staff who read essays want to connect with applicants intellectually and emotionally. Because AI bots are easy to use and there is the tendency of AI written essays to contain many buzz words while sounding impersonal, these readers are increasingly vigilant in (and getting better at) detecting AI involvement in essay writing. Even if other components of an application are superb, having an essay labeled as an AI product will immediately trigger concerns of plagiarism and scholastic dishonesty. In addition, using AI to assist in application communicates negative qualities such as a willingness to cut corners and lack of initiative.
It is possible that many applicant-written essays submitted to elite colleges can read similar to AI-written essays. The sad truth is that such essays will still be seen as subpar.