AI & The College Admissions Process

The college admissions process has traditionally been facilitated by human judgment and meticulous scrutiny. In more recent years, universities around the globe have been embracing the potential benefits of AI in streamlining and enhancing the admissions process. In fact, a September 2023 survey by Intelligent, an online higher ed magazine, revealed that 50% of higher education admissions officers are using AI already, and this is expected to rise to more than 80% by 2024. With any new change comes a wave of diverse opinions. Critics are concerned about the ethical ramifications of using AI to make final decisions about applicants. Meanwhile, advocates hope that it will allow admissions officers to complete their jobs more effectively, allowing them to spend more time looking at other parts of the application process like scholarships and financial aid, while also removing bias when selecting applicants. This begs the question: How are admissions officers using AI in the admissions process and what should we expect to see in the future?

How are college admissions officers using AI now?

Currently, AI is employed to analyze data, ranging from academic transcripts and standardized test scores to extracurricular activities and personal statements. According to an article published by U.S. News, Diane Gayeski, a professor of strategic communication at Ithaca and a higher education adviser for Intelligent, says the admissions process was already very algorithmic when done by humans. With AI, machine learning algorithms can identify patterns and trends, helping admissions officers make more informed decisions.

Also cited in the U.S. News article “Is AI Affecting College Admissions,” Rutgers University has already employed a self-reporting academic system. Applicants enter their own grades and test scores into a system that determines the students’ success rate at Rutgers. This process has saved admissions officers a significant amount of time, as they do not file or image transcripts, nor do they communicate with applicants regarding the arrival status of their transcript. With the help of AI and Rutgers’ success, many schools are considering shifting to a similar model.

Additionally, AI tools can assist in identifying potential bias by focusing on objective criteria, contributing to a fairer and more inclusive admissions process. The use of AI not only accelerates the application review process but also allows institutions to gain insights into the holistic profile of each applicant, creating a more comprehensive and data-driven approach to college admissions.

How will college admissions use AI in the future?

In the future, AI will revolutionize the reviewing process for admissions, specifically when it comes to locating and populating results in specific fields. For example, schools may begin using AI to find grades in certain disciplines depending on the applicant’s declared major; this process will be done by AI-driven predictive modeling. AI-driven predictive modeling is able to predict an applicant’s success in specific programs, enabling institutions to make decisions based on individual strengths and goals. Additionally, virtual interviews and chatbots powered by AI may play a significant role in assessing candidates’ communication skills and interpersonal abilities. In fact, 61% of higher admissions offices are using some form of chatbot already, according to the Intelligent survey. Experts expect to see this percentage increase drastically over the next year.

Colleges know that these changes may cause concern and worry to applicants, as they are seemingly putting their futures in the hands of AI. However, college officials promise that humans are still very much a part of the application decision process, despite the ever-evolving technologies that are available. The hope behind using AI is that the process will be more efficient for admissions officers and be a more transparent, equitable evaluation process for prospective students.

With all of these new considerations, it is crucial to be well-prepared when embarking on your college application journey. Reach out to a PREMINENTE college counselor today to get started.







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