How to use ChatGPT in college without getting expelled

How to use ChatGPT in college without getting expelled
Photo by D koi

Some things are worth the gamble. You play Everygame casino bonus, it is a gamble.  You might lose or you might win.  As long as you are not being stupid, it is your life and your choice.

One can say the same thing about using ChatGPT for your homework or take home test.  Asking it to do your assignment for you.  It is a gamble.  You might win, and your professor might not be the wiser.  Or maybe your professor can recognize a ChatGPT written paper a mile away, you get expelled from college, and 4 years worth of tuition (student loans you are still required to pay back) go right down the toilet.

But it does not mean that you should not use ChatGPT.  You just need to know how to use ChatGPT wisely.

Understanding the technology

There are two versions of ChatGPT.  One is the ChatGPT playground (  This is a version that has training data that cuts off at 2021.  You might think that it is not a problem.  You are writing a paper on George Washington, and he lived before 2021.  But don’t be so sure.

I played around with the ChatGPT playground for some simple translation from English to Hebrew using simple sentences from the Dolch Word list.  The Dolch Word List is 220 words and 95 nouns that cover somewhere between 50% to 75% of all words in any given text.  The ChatGPT playground could not even handle sentences from the first lesson of a first grade workbook that only had 5 words.  So yes, it was that bad.

But when I used the current version of ChatGPT that was last updated in March 2023 and uses current data (, the test of the first 5 words in the English language that first graders learned during the first week of school passed.

But unless you already know what the answer is supposed to be even before you put in the data, you have no idea if the results that ChatGPT are giving you are correct, complete garbage or somewhere in between.

How college professors viewed Wikipedia

College professors view ChatGPT with the same level of confidence as they view Wikipedia.  Actually, it should be viewed with a lot less confidence.

With Wikipedia, there are four areas that are valid.  First, is the infobox summaries.  These are usually hard data that is easily verifiable through other sources.  It might be selectively missing information, but generally, the information that is included is correct.

The second is the list of references on the bottom of the page.  There is nothing wrong with using that list of references as a starting point for your own research.  But again, there is the issue of selective references.  If somebody does not want somebody to find something (for example, the opposing point of view or non-favorable facts), those references might not be included.  So if you only use those references, your research might be biased.

The third is the talk page.  A lot of times the opposing point of view may be deleted from the article, but the discussion about it might be included in the talk page.  So the talk page is definitely worth checking out when you are seeking information about the point of view that is not included in the article.

The fourth is the article history.  I personally discovered this with the COVID-19 outbreak.  During the early months of 2020, China (and probably others) were actively trying to stifle information.  So I backtracked through the whole history of the original article on COVID-19.  Information that I learned back in March 2020 only started being admitted two years later.   And some of that information, people are still trying to hide.

But back to ChatGPT.

ChatGPT, where are the sources

The one thing that is missing from ChatGPT are the sources.  Where is ChatGPT getting its information from?  Why do people place such confidence in something that they know nothing about?  It was not that long ago that ChatGPT could not even handle translations of the some of the simplest, first grade vocabulary words – so, yes it is a big deal.

So if ChatGPT could not handle translations of “girl” and “puppy”, what makes you so confident that it can handle your research paper on “supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” or whatever other topic you are doing your research paper on?

In my research, I knew what the answer was supposed to be even before I typed it in.  I could pick up a dictionary on my shelf next to my computer and easily prove or disprove the information from an accepted source.

But what about your research paper?  Can you prove outside of ChatGPT that what ChatGPT is telling you is or is not correct?  If somebody reading your paper cannot verify your facts, what makes you so sure that they are facts and not fiction?  Or even someone’s biased view of the facts?  How do you know that ChatGPT is giving you both sides of the story and not just one side of the story?

Garbage in, garbage out

There is a saying in programming, “Garbage in, Garbage out”.  No matter how good your program is, if the input data is garbage, the output data is also going to be garbage.  With ChatGPT, you have no idea what the input data is.

It may be solid sources or the sources may be complete garbage.  You have no idea, because ChatGPT does not tell you where it is getting its data from.  The only thing that you know is that “it is from the internet”.  But what does that mean?

Maybe the Babylon Bee’s view of the how ChatGPT works is actually the correct view?  YouTube Video: This Is How ChatGPT Actually Works by Babylon Bee.  That ChatGPT is just a man sitting in a room typing in the responses to your prompts.  Can you actually prove to me that it is not?  You can’t, because ChatGPT does not provide sources.

Is ChatGPT useful for anything in college work?

Yes.  If you are trying to understand how to solve a math problem with all of the steps, you can put in the problem and ChatGPT will solve it for you, showing you all of the steps.  You can use it to check your work.  You can use it to see how it is done, put it aside, and then solve the problem yourself.  But you still need to do the work in order to learn how to do the work.

The other valid use is idea generation.  Let’s say you want to write an essay about George Washington.  That is a huge topic.  What are some ideas for a realistic paper topic?  You can ask ChatGPT.

I put in the question “What are some topic ideas for writing a paper about George Washington?”  It gave me back 10 ideas:

  • George Washington and the Revolutionary War
  • The political philosophy of George Washington
  • George Washington’s contributions to the development of the United States Constitution
  • George Washington’s leadership style and its impact on the United States
  • The role of George Washington in the founding of the United States of America
  • George Washington’s foreign policy and relations with other countries
  • George Washington’s views on slavery and his legacy in the abolitionist movement
  • George Washington’s role as a military commander during the French and Indian War
  • The personal life of George Washington and his relationship with his family
  • George Washington’s economic policies and their impact on the growth of the United States.

I pick my topic, “George Washington’s leadership style and its impact on the United States” and I write my essay.  Nothing wrong with that.


ChatGPT is a tool.  If you understand the pros and cons of it, it can be a valuable tool (similar to a spell checker and a grammar checker and a calculator) while not sacrificing your education.