ChatGPT Just Does Not Know You (or MBA Admissions)

You might have watched our video “Should You Use ChatGPT for MBA Admissions Essays?” As you most likely know, ChatGPT is a powerful natural language processing model that can generate realistic and engaging conversations based on your input. We will admit that it is really cool technology, and we have had fun trying out different MBA admissions essay prompts with it. But overall, the responses it generates—at least for now—are too generic to use in an MBA application.

The fundamental problem is that the AI knows absolutely nothing about you! So of course, it cannot generate an essay about what makes you you! It also knows nothing about the MBA admissions process or what admissions teams want in a candidate.   

We think offering some examples will help illustrate this more clearly. Let us start with this prompt: “In 25 words, what is something interesting about you that you would want your future classmates to know?” 

For each of the following responses, see if you can guess whether it was written by ChatGPT or an actual applicant:  

  • I can speak and understand over 100 human languages!
  • My band, Hammond Eggplant, once opened for a band that opened for a band that opened for Bon Jovi in 1983. I am the drummer.
  • I can generate creative writing, answer questions, and help with tasks.

Okay, so that might have been too obvious. (The one written by an actual applicant was the second one, about the drummer.) But ChatGPT itself understands why its responses are so obviously not personal. When we typed in “What is something interesting about me that I would want my future classmates to know,” its response was, “As an AI language model, I don’t have information about your personal experiences or preferences.” Exactly! We could not have said it better. ChatGPT can write, but it cannot write about you.

Guess what? MBA programs want to know about you and what makes you a great applicant to their program. The admissions committees want to learn about what you have done professionally and in your community. They also want to hear about personal experiences that have shaped you into the person you are today. And they want concrete examples that demonstrate who you are, what you do (and have done), and the impact you have had. ChatGPT just does not have any of that information and therefore cannot write a compelling essay about you.

Let us try another example. This one is actually not as immediately obvious, but I will point out what is missing. This is the prompt: “Write an essay about overcoming a challenge.” And here is ChatGPT’s response:

One of the significant challenges that I faced in my life was the fear of public speaking. As a child, I would avoid any situation that required me to speak in front of a group of people. Even simple tasks such as giving a presentation in class or reading out loud in front of the class would fill me with anxiety and dread.

This fear of public speaking followed me into my adult life, and it started to hold me back from achieving my goals. I realized that I could no longer avoid speaking in public if I wanted to progress in my career and personal life.

I decided to take control of the situation and start working on overcoming my fear. I started by researching and reading books on public speaking, attending workshops, and seeking advice from experts in the field. I also joined a public speaking club where I could practice speaking in front of an audience in a supportive environment.

It was a slow and challenging journey, but with each small step, I began to feel more confident and comfortable speaking in public. I learned to control my nerves and focus on my message rather than my fears. I also developed techniques to help me prepare and deliver speeches effectively.

Eventually, I was able to overcome my fear of public speaking, and it opened up new opportunities for me. I was able to take on more leadership roles in my work and community and communicate more effectively with others. It also gave me a sense of pride and accomplishment, knowing that I had faced a significant challenge and overcome it.

Okay, to be fair, the introduction is not so bad, but we would suggest starting off with a more engaging narrative that draws the reader in: “My voice began to crack. I lost my train of thought. Was I having an out-of-body experience? No, I was trying to speak before an audience of 20 colleagues on my area of expertise, and these were people who knew me! But I still couldn’t get the words out.”

Otherwise, though, that is a pretty impressive essay, considering it was spit out in a matter of seconds. But here is the issue—it could be anyone’s essay. Read it again, and you will see that that it includes literally no specifics. And even if you were to add specifics to make the essay more personal to you, the structure of the essay still leaves you with a narrative from childhood that is a little cliched. And this of course is not even the challenge you overcame. We could point out a litany of other problems as well, but what is most important is that the essay never discusses what you were able to do concretely and what you later accomplished after overcoming your challenge. What new opportunities did you seize at work and in your community? What did you do, and what was the positive impact of your effective speaking? These elements should be main points in this essay, but again, because ChatGPT does not know you, this ends up being a missed opportunity.  

We are interested to see how this technology evolves. If someday, ChatGPT is able to learn about your professional accomplishments, community leadership, and personal experiences; determine which of those stories make you you; differentiate you from other applicants by offering specific personal examples; and show your fit with your target MBA programs, then we can talk (or chat). But for now, stick with your own creativity. 

If you would like to discuss your application essays and school selection in more detail with an expert MBA admissions consultant, sign up today for a free 30-minute consultation!

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