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ChatGPT vs. Your Educational Counsellor

What is ChatGPT?

ChatGPT is a computer program developed by OpenAI that talks and answers questions like a human. It is trained on large amounts of text data that was last updated in 2021, meaning your information may be outdated for 1-2 years.

So what makes ChatGPT different from a human?

While ChatGPT provides information and answers questions, it cannot replace human counsellors for these few reasons:

1. It lacks empathy

Sharing about a problem makes anyone feel vulnerable. A good listener would provide assurance such as actively listening, displaying non-verbal cues of attention, and asking how the person is feeling.

ChatGPT lacks empathy as it only provides a list of possible solutions and even so, are generic solutions, unless you specify your issue in a detailed manner.

Even if it tries to empathize, it lacks the sincerity. This could be caused by the lack of personal experience, making ChatGPT’s advice feel generic and non-contextualized to your current self. Personal experiences are important when empathizing for others. It indirectly tells the person, that the listener has made it out of the difficult situation and is offering a place of solace or solution.

2. It does not guide you

Let’s say you are a Malaysian, dreaming of studying in the United States of America, and you want to know about universities and living costs.

Pretty long text right? We got lost reading it too. Instead, wouldn’t it be better if your counsellor asked you some guiding questions.

  1. Do you have any other preference than California?
  2. Do you have the means to finance your study?
  3. Are any relatives staying in the USA?

ChatGPT may ask these same questions, but you must know how to prompt it. However, it does not stress its importance through written texts. Whereas if you had a human counsellor, you are more likely to understand better through the emotional interactions.

After counselling students for over 25 years, most students are not looking for just facts and figures (which is what ChatGPT is good for).

Students want guidance and coaching, with facts, which brings us to our next discussion.

3. It is not guided by morality or ethics

As an AI model, information fed to its algorithm may not be necessarily morally right. This could slowly misguide readers by providing information without caution or worse encouraging unethical behavior.

Here is what ChatGPT has to say about it:

ChatGPT is a tool to help us humans, in decision making, not making decisions itself. Ultimately, speaking to a trusted counsellor or an adult is your best source of advice if you are facing an issue that requires morality to make a decision.