That’s Not a Tsunami, That’s Progress…

The emergence of ChatGPT, the Artificial Intelligence text-generation technology, has professors all over the country soiling themselves as they anticipate being consumed by a tsunami of student plagiarism (e.g., see “The Review Forum” in the June 9th issue of The Chronicle of Higher Education)

Men, women, and non-binaries of the academy…..please relax.  As it always does, higher education will adapt and survive. 

Here are a couple of institutions that are leading the way.

Beginning in 2024, Princeton University will no longer award the bachelor’s degree.  Instead, graduating students will be given a Certificate of Attendance.  No written assignments of any kind will be required in undergraduate courses at the New Jersey school.

As Princeton President Christopher Eisgruber recently noted, “at an elite institution like ours, it doesn’t really matter if students learn any content or have an eye-popping GPA.  What matters are the highly resourced people you meet and the social networks you establish as you cultivate a lifestyle that will provide the level of success, wealth, and leisure you are entitled to.  That’s why a Certificate of Attendance from Princeton is much, MUCH more important than a degree.  You can’t network if you don’t show up.

“The elimination of all writing assignments in undergraduate courses will render ChatGPT irrelevant.  Hell, we lost the battle against plagiarism decades ago.  Students have always been one step ahead of us.  Let’s just acknowledge that fact and move on.  Getting rid of these assignments will provide our students with more opportunities for networking and our faculty with more time for submitting op-eds to The New York Times.  It’s a win/win.”

The University of California system has chosen a different path.  Starting next year, the only undergraduate degrees it will offer are a Bachelor of Arts in ChatGPT Management (BACM) and a Bachelor of Science in ChatGPT Management (BSCM).  

According to Chancellor Michael Drake, “the most crucial skill a 21st-century college student needs to learn is pretty straightforward: how do I use ChatGPT to produce excellent written work?  Colleges should be embracing this tool, not running away from it.  Of course, we understand that most faculty have little interest in reading ChatGPT-generated essays and papers, so our colleagues at UC-Berkeley have developed a ChatGPT text reviewer that professors can use to grade these assignments.  We’re calling the whole operation ‘Chat-to-Chat’.

“Voila!  We have replaced the outdated and inefficient internal-combustion engine of evaluation in higher education with an auto-drive system that Tesla would be proud of.”

Open your eyes.  It’s a ChatGPT world.  We just live in it.