Using artificial intelligence (AI) for scholarships is a game changer. Many pain points that students and families previously faced with scholarships are now diminished – by a lot!
AI has the capability to create unique scholarship personal statements in seconds. It can help students brainstorm ideas about ways to tackle the application process. It can give valuable feedback and insights on grammar and essay structure. Of course, using AI can help with the scholarship search process, too. It can even help prepare students for scholarship interviews.
However, there are also limitations with AI when it comes to scholarship applications.
AI is an Amazing Tool, But Understanding it is Key
Below, we’ll cover what you need to know about using AI platforms to win scholarship opportunities.
These insights come from dozens of hours of research and experience. I’ve gained valuable information by using various AI tools over and over again on scholarship-related tasks.
I’ve assessed AI-generated content for quality. I’ve tested plagiarism checkers that promise to identify AI-developed content. Beyond this, I’ve had dozens of conversations with students about how they currently use AI in their higher educational journeys.
After investing a lot of time, I’ve seen the bad outcomes that AI can generate, as well as the amazing outcomes it can help produce. Below, I share key observations.
The Huge Advantages AI Offers
The benefits of AI are immense. It’s no wonder why its use is spreading rapidly. When it comes to the scholarship process, here are a few ways artificial intelligence supports students.
Use Artificial Intelligence to Brainstorm Ideas
A big challenge for writing scholarship essays is developing compelling ideas. Here, AI assists students to brainstorm ideas by providing multiple perspectives on a topic. In short order, it can deliver outside of the box ideas and push a student to develop their own creative and innovative ideas. Of course, it’s important to develop your own content.
AI Helps Students with Grammar and Structure
Writing well is a crucial part of any application. After completing a scholarship application draft, it’s possible to ask AI to offer grammatical and structural feedback so that you can better communicate your point. This technology is like a more sophisticated version of grammar and spellcheck. AI is much better at understanding the full context of an essay and giving feedback on how to effectively deliver a message.
AI Saves Time on Scholarship Applications
By offering the above services within seconds, AI is a huge time saver. The speed at which you can now do research, get feedback, and revise is astounding. With an AI-powered assistant to complement your current strategy, it’s likely possible to amplify your application output by a considerable amount. While there are never any guarantees, more applications means more chances to win.
Consider the Whole Picture: Before Using Artificial Intelligence for Scholarship Application Essays, Read this Story…
Recently, I was asked by two students to give feedback on scholarship essays. The students do not know one another and they were applying for different awards. However, their scholarship providers were both labour unions and asked students to answer similar questions for their personal essays.
The first essay I read was strong grammatically. Although, I thought it was too general, as if anyone could have written it. Typically, these are not the type of statements that impress a scholarship committee, so I gave the student feedback on how to improve the essay.
A few days later, I received a different essay from the second student. Surprisingly, it used different words, but communicated an identical point to the essay I had just read. Immediately, I knew. This, and the previous essay, was AI generated.
Here’s what I realized in that moment: AI is not the magic bullet many believe it to be. To use it in a complementary way requires critical thinking and clear understanding of what the tool can and cannot do.
The Limitations of AI
Following from the story above, consider this: if dozens of students are applying for a scholarship and many of them ask an AI bot the exact same scholarship prompt, it’s likely that it will produce similar answers.
This is a danger zone! There are other limitations to consider as well. Here’s a list, along with some helpful advice on how to maximize the power of AI with your scholarship applications.
Limitation 1: AI Doesn’t Know Your Details
AI doesn’t have access to your personal experiences, background, or the specific requirements of the scholarship. It can provide general suggestions and prompts, but it may not fully understand the specifics of your situation.
Ultimately, relying solely on AI for your personal statement may result in a lack of originality and authenticity. It’s important to infuse your own unique voice, experiences, and personality into your writing. Use AI as a tool to enhance your writing, but don’t let it overshadow your own ideas and perspectives.
Limitation 2: Potential Inaccuracies in AI-Generated Content
AI generates responses based on patterns and examples from the data it was trained on. This data is from the past. While it strives to provide accurate information, it can sometimes generate incorrect or misleading suggestions. This is why it’s important to always fact-check and verify any information or advice provided by AI.
Limitation 3: AI May Not Know Preferences of Scholarship Committees
Scholarship committees are subjective. They evaluate personal statements based on their own criteria and preferences. While AI can offer suggestions and help you refine your writing, it cannot guarantee that your personal statement will align perfectly with a committee’s expectations or preferences.
Limitation 4: Inability to Verify Originality for Scholarship Essays
While AI can assist with generating ideas, it cannot verify the originality or uniqueness of your personal statement. I’m sure you know this, but it bears repeating, plagiarism is a serious offense and can have detrimental consequences on your scholarship application. Any hint of plagiarism will likely get your application disqualified immediately. It’s your responsibility to ensure that your writing is authentic.
Limitation 5: Variable Response Quality in Essay Writing
AI’s responses can vary in quality and coherence. While it generally strives to provide helpful information, at times, AI-powered responses can be unclear, irrelevant, or contain errors. It’s important to carefully review and assess the suggestions provided by AI and use your personal judgement.
Limitation 6: Artificial Intelligence Bias and Knowledge of Current Trends
As mentioned, AI trains itself from data created in the past. So, it may not have access to the latest trends or changes in the application process that have emerged since its training. This is where a scholarship advisor can be a huge benefit because we stay up to date with the most current information and relay that to you.
Also, AI learns from a vast amount of data, which can include biases present in the text it was trained on. As a result, its suggestions may unintentionally reflect those biases. Be mindful of this and critically evaluate the suggestions to ensure they align with your own values and perspectives
Limitation 7: Privacy Concerns – Show Caution When Using AI
Conversations with AI may involve sharing personal information or details about your scholarship application. It’s important to exercise caution and not share any sensitive or personally identifiable information that could compromise your privacy. Generally speaking, the risks with information shared in a scholarship statement is low, but the point is still worth noting.
Limitation 8: AI Lacks Emotional Understanding
AI does not possess personal judgment or emotional understanding. It cannot assess the emotional impact or resonance of your writing, which is crucial for conveying your experiences and future aspirations effectively. In fact, creating a positive emotional connection with your reader is something you’ll want to accomplish. So, again, use personal judgement.
Final Note: Consider Rapid Change in Technology and Regulations When You Use AI for Scholarship Applications
Whether you should or shouldn’t use AI to apply for scholarships is a personal choice. However, if you do decide to use it, it’s wise to stay up to date on how the technology works and the regulations it faces in the world of scholarships.
Ultimately, artificial intelligence has the potential to help you amplify the amount of scholarship applications you submit. It can also help elevate the quality of your applications. But, the technology is so new that we’re in unchartered waters with rules and regulations.
Stay up to date and use the tool as a complement, not a replacement, to your own thinking and approach to scholarships.
Christopher Grafos, Ph.D., is the founder and chief scholarship mentor at BridgesEDU Scholarships.
He’s a first-generation university graduate whose life was transformed by education and winning scholarships.
Scholarships help students financially, but they also help advance a student’s career. It’s his life’s work to champion this message and share the secrets to finding and winning scholarships.
Read more about Christopher’s journey here.