With technology rapidly advancing, it’s not surprising that university applicants are increasingly seeking the help of Artificial Intelligence in writing their personal statements.
After all, using AI tools seems to make a lot of sense.
AI speeds up the process, writes accurately and can save you time and effort. That can be of real value if your focus is on studying for your exams.
But can you really use AI tools to write your personal statement and ace your university application?
Using AI to write a personal statement has advantages and disadvantages. AI tools allow applicants to create accurate and engaging personal statements, but these can lack the depth and detail needed to convince an admissions reader. Ethical and personal concerns are also limiting factors.
Let’s drill down to the specifics…
Can AI Write A University Personal Statement?
When we talk about AI, what we’re really considering is output created without significant human interaction. In other words…
Artificial intelligence is the simulation of human intelligence processes by machines.Techtarget.com
The important thing to remember is that AI doesn’t know you as an individual. It doesn’t understand your feelings or recognise the value of your experiences.
Only you can do that.
What AI can do brilliantly is put your ideas into words.
The problem when it comes to using AI to write a personal statement is that because AI doesn’t understand how each element of your life and education has helped you evolve, it doesn’t always know which words to use.
It won’t understand your character and values.
It can’t yet think for you on an individual basis.
In other words, AI hasn’t lived your life, so it needs a huge range of inputs in order to write a truly unique personal statement that genuinely reflects your inspirations and ambitions.
And that kind of defeats the object.
Let me give you an example…
A Personal Statement Written By AI
Can AI be trusted to write something as personal and significant as a personal statement?
The implications of this question have far-reaching consequences, and it’s crucial to take the time to consider them.
On one hand, while AI-powered writing tools can assist in the writing process, providing helpful suggestions and corrections, there is still a level of uncertainty when it comes to the authenticity of the output.
And if there’s one thing a personal statement needs to be, it’s personal.
After all, a personal statement is meant to reflect an individual’s personality, experiences, and aspirations.
Can AI truly capture these nuances and emotions with the right degree of authenticity?
Here’s the Prompt I Gave ChatGPT:
Pretty vague, I’ll admit.
But, if I gave it all the pieces of information it needed to make a personal statement that truly sums up my interest in and preparation for a course of study, I’d literally have to write the personal statement from scratch!
Here’s the Output I Received:
On the surface, it’s a good-looking response.
The AI has analysed enough personal statement examples to identify common elements of language and structure. Words like ‘dedicated’, ‘passionate’ and ‘actively pursued’ are dynamic and convincing, and they certainly sound good.
They might even be true reflections of your lived academic experience.
But the problem is, when everybody uses them in their AI-generated personal statement, they lose all value and authenticity.
According to Universities UK, in 2022, 683,650 people applied through UCAS to an undergraduate course. That’s a lot of personal statements, just through the UCAS undergraduate system.
Imagine if each one used the wording above?
At best, this AI-generated personal statement gives you a guide to structuring the elements you need to include. That’s hugely helpful, but it’s probably best to use this as a starting point and adapt it to reflect your individual experiences and ambitions more fully.
Diversity, Creativity and Human Writing vs AI
A personal statement is a crucial document when it comes to job or university applications.
It is specifically designed to showcase your personality and convince the reader that you are the best possible candidate for the position you are applying for.
That’s why it’s important to take the time to craft a personal statement that is unique to you.
It’s also a required component within many application processes because it compels applicants to analyse their skills and experiences and articulate their academic and professional ambitions.
The process of doing this can be exceptionally valuable and is often a critical factor in deciding on particular courses or subjects.
To hand this process over to AI could actually disadvantage you further down the line. You might find you’ve made the wrong decision, applied for a course you’re not suited for or overestimated your capabilities.
Equally, the quality and content of your personal statement might not match your academic achievements, giving you and the admissions reader a false impression of your abilities.
As Dr Andrew McStay, a senior lecturer in advertising and digital media at Bangor University notes…
“Using AI to write a personal statement could be seen as a shortcut. It is often an attempt to avoid the ethical and intellectual work required in such circumstances. By using AI, applicants miss out on the opportunity to reflect on their experiences and articulate their goals in their own words. This process is crucial for personal growth and development and cannot be replaced by relying on technology.”
Click here to discover the kinds of skills you must write about in a personal statement, however you write it!
The Ethics of AI in Personal Statements
The ethics of using AI to write a personal statement is a hot topic for debate, with many people arguing that relying on AI to write a personal statement raises ethical concerns.
Universities and employers expect the personal statement to be written by the applicant, and using AI to create the document could be seen as dishonest and deceptive.
Although AI is capable of generating text that is grammatically correct, it cannot truly capture the essence of an individual’s experiences and aspirations. The personal statement is meant to reflect the applicant’s unique voice and perspective, and using AI to create it undermines the authenticity of the document.
You might find that your personal statement falls foul of the sophisticated plagiarism software used by institutions all over the world.
If that happens, your application is likely to be rejected.
The Argument For Using AI in Personal Statements
It’s important to recognise that AI has come a long way in recent years, and the technology continues to improve.
Perhaps with further development and refinement of these tools, we may eventually see AI-generated personal statements that are just as compelling and authentic as those written by humans.
Ultimately, the decision to trust AI with such an important task is up to the individual, and it’s important to weigh the pros and cons before making a decision.
The Argument Against Using AI in Personal Statements
AI tools are still far behind humans in terms of creativity and the ability to bring a personal touch to writing.
This is because creativity requires not only logical thinking but also imagination, intuition, and a deep understanding of the human experience that machines lack.
Therefore, while AI may be able to automate certain tasks, it cannot replace the value that comes from human creativity and individuality.
As Dave Coplin, chief envisioning officer at Microsoft UK, explains…
“AI is not good at creative thinking because it cannot make the intuitive leaps that are required for truly original ideas.”
While AI can analyse vast amounts of data and identify patterns, it is still limited in its ability to generate new and innovative ideas that go beyond what it has been programmed to do. In contrast, humans are capable of making connections between seemingly unrelated concepts and coming up with entirely new ideas that have never been considered before.
Whilst a personal statement might not change the world, a successful one could change your life, and in that sense, it’s worth crafting it with care.
If you need more convincing, check out my article on the 9 reasons why you should write your own personal statement and find out exactly what it should include.
Writing Assistance for Personal Statements
While it is true that the personal statement writing process is best done by the applicant themselves, AI-powered writing tools like Grammarly can provide valuable support.
In addition to helping users improve their grammar and sentence structure, these tools can also suggest alternative vocabulary and phrasing and identify areas where the language may be too informal or too technical for the intended audience.
This can lead to a more polished and effective personal statement and can help applicants meet those character or word limits without losing valuable content.
I recommend Grammarly to all my clients and students – it’s a hugely valuable tool for academic writing. You can check out the current offers at Grammarly by following this link or hit the banner below for more information.
AI can also be used as a tool for brainstorming and idea generation, providing suggestions and prompts for the applicant to consider.
However, it is important that the final product is crafted by the applicant themselves, as personal statements are meant to reflect their personal experiences and aspirations.
Should You Use AI to Write A Personal Statement?
A personal statement is not just a document to showcase one’s qualifications and achievements but also a reflection of one’s character and values. It is an opportunity for the applicant to tell their story and explain why they are a good fit for the program they are applying to.
Therefore, it is crucial to spend time and effort crafting a well-written and compelling personal statement.
As Dr. McStay states…
“There is no substitute for the hard work of thinking and writing.”
While AI can provide assistance, it is ultimately up to the applicant to put in the hard work and dedicate the necessary time and effort to create a personal statement that truly represents who they are and why they are the best candidate for the program.
In order to do so, it is advisable to start by reflecting on your personal and professional experiences, as well as your future goals. From there, you can begin to craft a personal statement that highlights your strengths, your achievements, and the unique qualities that make you stand out from other candidates.
Remember that a successful personal statement is not just about listing your accomplishments but also about demonstrating how they have prepared you for the next step in your academic or professional journey.
Not sure where to begin? Click here to find out exactly how to start writing your personal statement.
So, should you use AI to write a personal statement? My answer might surprise you.
Yes, you should use AI to help you write your personal statement.
It’s an exceptionally valuable tool that gives you the opportunity to create excellent content.
But it’s only one tool.
Whether you use it to help develop a structure, to rephrase elements in your personal statement or brainstorm ideas, the final outcome will always be strongest if it comes from the applicant’s head and heart.
It’s your opportunity to say exactly what you want to say about your ambitions, achievements and strengths. It’s your chance to work out who you are and who you want to be. It’s a task that helps you define your future.
And while getting some help from AI to write a personal statement is sensible, creating your final document organically, with originality and personality, will always result in a more compelling and successful piece of writing.
I hope this article on using AI to write a personal statement has been helpful. Above all, I wish you every success in your academic career.
If you’d like to work with me to develop your personal statement 1:1, I’d be delighted to hear from you.
Find out about my personal statement support services by clicking here or on the image below.
Research and content verified by Personal Statement Planet.