Since the release of ChatGPT in November 2022, one of the biggest concerns about the artificial intelligence-based chatbot is its impact on education, especially in college settings.

In February 2024, surveyed 588 college students and found 37% currently use ChatGPT. We asked these current ChatGPT users about how they are utilizing the tool.

We found out the following about students currently using ChatGPT:

  • 96% of use ChatGPT for schoolwork; 80% use it for other tasks (e.g., communication, job searching)
  • 69% use the tool for help with writing assignments; 29% of which have ChatGPT write entire essays
  • Half have had at least one professor encourage ChatGPT use
  • 86% say their ChatGPT use has gone undetected
  • 3 in 4 believe using ChatGPT is cheating

ChatGPT most commonly used for writing assignments

Of the college students surveyed, 37% say they currently use ChatGPT, and 36% say they have used it in the past but don’t currently. Additionally, 22% say they have never used it, while 5% admit they don’t know what the tool is.

Among the students who currently use ChatGPT, 96% have used the chatbot for at least one school-related purpose during the current academic year.

The most popular ChatGPT use among student users is for writing assignments (69%), followed by research (67%), emails (37%), and multiple choice quizzes and tests (35%).

Of the 69% who use ChatGPT for writing assignments, 17% say they use it all the time, while 24% use it most of the time.

When asked how they use ChatGPT to help them with writing assignments, three in four students say they use it for idea generation. Additionally, 64% use it to reword sentences, and 54% use it for help with spelling and grammar.

Half of students ask ChatGPT to write sections of an essay for them, while 29% have the chatbot write their full essay.

According to Dr. Diane Gayeski, professor of strategic communications at Ithaca College, ChatGPT and other AI tools can be useful to students when used intentionally.

“AI can create efficiencies, especially in overcoming the writer’s block that students can face when just staring at a blank screen to start an assignment,” Gayeski says. ” If used well, AI can critique drafts and suggest alternate viewpoints.

“However, a lot of what is typically generated in terms of text is quite stereotyped, and certainly doesn’t have or promote any kind of unique “voice” of a student,” she adds. “Often, students can spend more time playing around with prompts than just writing the material themselves. And of course, if students simply use an AI tool to produce an assignment that is supposed to stimulate their creativity or reinforce learning, they’ve missed the entire objective of their education.

Majority say instructors have encouraged them to use ChatGPT

The survey also showed that college professors are taking various approaches to ChatGPT use.

Fifty-one percent of student ChatGPT users say they’ve had at least one instructor encourage them to use ChatGPT for class assignments. Meanwhile, 19% have had at least one instructor require them to use ChatGPT for an assignment.

Gayeski is among the instructors who has incorporated ChatGPT and AI tools into her curriculum.

“For the past year, I’ve required my students to use several AI tools in assignments,” she says. “For example, they were required to use Grammarly and to develop compelling introductions and clear outlines for their business reports and to find articles that both supported and refuted some initial research they found. In another assignment, they were required to use it to create a series of social media posts for a public relations assignment.”

At the same time, 72% of students say they’ve had at least one professor ban the use of ChatGPT for writing assignments.

Regarding professors who are afraid of students using AI to cheat their way through courses, Gayeski says, “If students can truly use AI to develop good papers or essays, the assignments are not well-designed. I require my students to cite specific material that I have covered in class and to apply concepts to real-world clients—all of which AI cannot accomplish.”

Sixty percent of student ChatGPT users say their colleges have policies around the use of ChatGPT for school assignments. Twenty-six percent of student ChatGPT users aren’t sure if their school has policies related to ChatGPT use for schoolwork.

ChatGPT use undetected for 86% of student users

Among students who use ChatGPT for school assignments, 86% say they haven’t been called out by professors for using the AI technology, while 11% say they have.

Of the students who were caught by professors using ChatGPT, 35% didn’t face any negative consequences. For those who were punished, 43% had to redo their assignment, and 30% failed the assignment.

3 in 4 students believe using ChatGPT is cheating

One of the biggest questions related to ChatGPT use in educational settings is whether it’s considered cheating.

Twelve percent of student ChatGPT users say using the AI technology is definitely cheating, while 64% believe it’s somewhat cheating. Twenty-four percent believe that using ChatGPT in school assignments is not cheating.

2 in 5 college students have had ChatGPT write their resume, professional emails

Student ChatGPT users have also found a variety of ways to use the technology for assistance in their personal and professional lives. This includes using ChatGPT to help them write professional emails (42%), resumes (41%), cover letters (26%), personal emails (25%), professional text messages (22%), and personal text messages (16%).

While 7% of student ChatGPT users say they rely on the technology daily for non-school related tasks, the majority of students say they use it a few times a week (45%) or a few times a month (35%).

Despite their widespread adoption of this technology for a variety of uses, 92% of student ChatGPT users don’t include ChatGPT as a skill on their resume. However, these students may want to reconsider this, Gayeski says.

“As ChatGPT and other AI tools become more widespread, most employers will expect that students can use relevant AI tools in the same way that they expect they can use basic word processing, spreadsheets, and search engines,” she says.


This survey was commissioned by and conducted online by the survey platform Pollfish from February 12-19, 2024. A total of 588 college students ages 18-25 were surveyed, with 217 completing the full survey.

To qualify for the survey all participants had to currently be enrolled in a 4-year college or university and confirm they currently use ChatGPT.

To avoid bias Pollfish employs Random Device Engagement (RDE) to ensure both random and organic surveying. Learn more about Pollfish’s survey methodology or contact [email protected] for more information.