4 Game-Changing College Strategies with ChatGPT: Wish I Knew Them Sooner

Discover 4 game-changing college strategies with ChatGPT. Maximize your potential by leveraging its power to understand, write, communicate, and study effectively. Achieve college success responsibly and efficiently.

4 Game-Changing College Strategies with ChatGPT: Wish I Knew Them Sooner
Image: Generated by Midjourney

ChatGPT, a powerful AI language model, can be a game-changer for students. Its potential goes beyond the usual controversies such as concerns of plagiarism and learning quality, especially when used responsibly. I only stumbled upon ChatGPT in a Computer Science class during the last semester of my undergrad so I missed out a bit on the fun. Here are four ways I wish I'd used ChatGPT earlier in my degree:

1. Making Sense of Complex Course Material

Textbooks can be real brain teasers with their abstract and convoluted explanations. Sure, I could ask my instructors for help, but there are times when this isn't feasible - like when I'm swamped with new concepts, racing against the clock, or the instructor’s explanation still feels like it's written in hieroglyphics. That's when I brought in my secret weapon: ChatGPT. My go-to command was "Explain to me as if I am a middle schooler". Sometimes, I'd copy an explanation straight from the textbook and ask ChatGPT to break it down for me. What's really awesome about this AI buddy is its knack for understanding context. It lets you ask follow-up questions and is even able to rephrase the explanation in a way that clicks for you.

ChatGPT breaks down the concept of “Liquid junction potential” in comparison with the textbook’s explanation.

2. Getting Feedback On Written Work

As a college student, I've witnessed the ongoing controversy surrounding the use of ChatGPT for essay writing. While I wholeheartedly advocate for refining one's writing style during their academic years—something I found especially valuable as a non-native English speaker—I also understand that writing is an inherently subjective discipline, and not all instructors have the capacity to offer personalized feedback to each student. To supplement this, I utilized the online services of my college writing center, submitting my papers for review and feedback. Despite its benefits, I found that this process could be time-consuming and the feedback provided was sometimes more focused on grammatical corrections rather than a constructive critique of the content.

This led me to explore ChatGPT as an innovative solution to enhance my papers while steering clear of plagiarism and bolstering my writing proficiency. My method involved introducing my paper to ChatGPT, including a brief summary of the topic and my overarching goals, then presenting each paragraph individually and soliciting feedback and suggestions for improvement. With its ability to evaluate coherence, clarity, tone, and even grammar, ChatGPT soon became a crucial tool in my writing process. It provided useful improvement suggestions, aided in paraphrasing, and allowed for a detailed analysis of my work.

Helpful feedback I got from ChatGPT-4 while working on this Substack article

To ensure the authenticity of my work, I always made a point to have all my ideas jotted down and at least 70% of my paper fleshed out. This approach allowed me to enhance my essay based on the feedback received, rather than the other way around, preserving my unique voice while achieving a polished final draft.


3. Perfecting Emails

Writing effective emails is an indispensable skill every college student should acquire. It's a tool we constantly use, whether it's to request a recommendation letter from a professor, inquire about joining a research lab, or correspond with school officials and potential employers.

In my junior year, I served as an International Communication Assistant, a role that required frequent liaison with campus partners and community businesses. With English being my second language, crafting professional emails was quite a challenge sometimes. This is where ChatGPT stepped in as a game-changer.

ChatGPT not only ensured my emails were grammatically impeccable but also helped improve their overall flow, thereby making my email correspondence more efficient. It significantly boosted my confidence in written communication and proved to be an exceptional learning tool for enhancing my writing skills.

Example of my email improved by GPT-3.5

If you plan on using ChatGPT to polish your emails, here's a piece of advice: always review the AI's suggestions and modify them to retain your unique voice and style. This way, you ensure that the message is authentically yours, even while benefiting from the language model's assistance.


4. Constructing Study Guides and Mock Exams

One of my early chemistry professors insisted that students should learn to devise their own study plans, a view I agreed with. I pride myself on being an organized student, and creating study guides has always been an integral part of my revision strategy. However, certain challenges would often arise: the course content was sometimes too extensive, or I found myself juggling multiple exams at once. That's when I discovered another practical application of ChatGPT – crafting detailed study guides and mock exams.

To get started, I fed the AI all available course resources – lecture notes, handouts, slides, and the syllabus. In the process, I found that reviewing the materials was itself an effective step in studying. Once ChatGPT had access to these materials, I could ask it to generate a detailed study guide and even construct a mock exam.

Practice questions generated by ChatGPT based on the provided course content

However, it's worth noting that ChatGPT has limitations when it comes to mathematics and equations, so its effectiveness in generating accurate math-related questions is limited. For practice problems involving calculations, I'd recommend turning to your instructors or other reliable resources.

Overall, ChatGPT has proven to be an invaluable tool for concept-based learning in humanities courses, and even the theory portions of science courses. Remember to always review and customize the AI-generated study guides to suit your individual learning style and preferences.

ChatGPT is an incredibly useful tool if applied appropriately. I believe it shouldn't be shied away from but rather harnessed responsibly to enhance your college success.