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Man using a laptop computer chatting with an artificial intelligence asks for the answers he wants.

College-bound students have competitive concerns about how other students are using AI, a study finds.

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College-bound students are heavy users of artificial intelligence (AI) technology, but that may be driven by concerns they will face disadvantages without it, a new report released Monday finds.

More than half of the students surveyed worried about AI’s impact on them achieving their college and career goals and many had competitive concerns about how other students were using AI, according to the report from the Art & Science Group LLC, a market intelligence firm for higher education institutions.

Of the more than 1,300 students polled, 55 percent said they were somewhat or strongly worried that other students’ AI usage will hurt their chances of getting into their chosen college. Similarly, about three out of five said they believe other students’ AI usage will affect their chance of getting scholarships and limit career opportunities after college.

“I’m struck that they’re evidencing a fear that others are using this to gain a leg up and conclude they have to do the same thing,” said Art & Science Group principal David Strauss.

He said one of the largest takeaways was students’ concerns on the ethics of AI, paired with their concerns about the competitive landscape.

Two out of five students said AI tools contribute to misinformation, with the same amount calling the use of AI a form of cheating. A similar percentage (43 percent) believe using the tools contributes to a significant decline in critical thinking and creativity.

“It’s a bit encouraging that students are asking these questions and voicing those concerns,” Strauss said.

A majority of incoming college students reported familiarity with AI—nearly half of respondents (48 percent) reported they are knowledgeable, with more than a quarter (26 percent) stating they are “very” knowledgeable.

About two out of five students (41 percent) are simply using AI “for fun,” with 35 percent stating they are using it for academic purposes, including studying, note taking, writing essays and studying languages. A small number of students are utilizing AI in their college search, with 8 percent saying they leveraged the technology for things like writing college applications or financial aid and scholarship essays.

Strauss said the survey, conducted in February, reinforces that universities need to adjust their pedagogical and philosophical stance on AI and those that do could have a competitive advantage.