But first, as a case study, my GPA fell short of the 3.8 required for the Ph.D. program. My supervisor thought I wasn’t ready for a Ph.D. but didn’t explain my options. So, I wrongly believed it was “over.” And I knew a math master’s student who wound up with an extremely abusive supervisor. As a result, the math student failed to get his master’s degree. He was distressed when he told me that it was over. But it truly wasn’t over. Not for him. Not for me. Never for you.
In my view, nothing in life is truly the dead end for us—not even death. However, everyone hits so-called dead-end walls. Life’s obstacles are part of learning and growing. It takes persevering, growing, and sometimes meandering to arrive at our ultimate destination. And we’re all here to love, learn, build, create, and grow. It’s all part of leaving this world and everyone in it better off than before.
And yes, ChatGPT can help us to that end.
Here’s an example of how ChatGPT answered my dead-end questions about pursuing a Ph.D. Thanks to ChatGPT, I finally know the answers.
I asked ChatGPT the following question: “I had too low of a GPA in my Communications master’s degree to get into the Ph.D. program. My GPA was 3.58 out of 4. I needed a 3.8. What can I do to get into the Ph.D. program despite this limitation.”
ChatGPT replied, “If your GPA falls below the minimum requirement for admission to a PhD program, there are still several steps you can take to improve your chances of getting accepted. Here are some suggestions:
- Address the GPA issue in your application: Acknowledge the discrepancy in your GPA in your application materials, such as your personal statement or statement of purpose. Explain any extenuating circumstances that may have affected your academic performance and emphasize your commitment and readiness to succeed in a PhD program.
[I developed extreme anxiety during the master’s program, which impacted my ability to secure a timely thesis supervisor and write the thesis.]
- Strengthen other aspects of your application: Highlight other strengths and achievements in your application to compensate for the lower GPA. Emphasize your research experience, publications, presentations, relevant work experience, and any additional qualifications, certifications, or skills that demonstrate your readiness for doctoral studies.
[I have gained work experience and will acquire a few certifications over the next year.]
- Obtain relevant research experience: Engage in research activities outside of your master’s program. Seek out research opportunities, internships, or assistantships related to your field of interest. This will demonstrate your research potential and dedication to academic inquiry.
[The Voice Magazine lists some research opportunities that I’d encourage all of us to view.]
- Seek additional coursework or a second master’s degree: Consider taking additional coursework or pursuing a second master’s degree to demonstrate your academic abilities and commitment to your field. Aim to excel in these additional courses to boost your GPA and provide evidence of your capacity for advanced study.
[This struck my curiosity, although I wouldn’t want to pursue more coursework in Communications. I prefer marketing.]
- Establish strong relationships with potential advisors: Reach out to faculty members or potential advisors in the PhD programs you’re interested in. Communicate your research interests, explain your situation, and express your enthusiasm for their work. Building strong relationships with faculty members who can vouch for your abilities may help compensate for a lower GPA.
[I would want to reach out to a potential supervisor in the business school for the marketing program. I’m considering the University of London’s online Marketing MSc, which is $ 20,000 Canadian. AU is another great option. I could possibly go straight into AU’s Doctorate of Business Administration (DBA), given my master’s degree. Unfortunately, it costs $60,000. Most CEO’s typically have master’s degrees, as they are seen as more practical, according to ChatGPT. AU’s DBA makes sense if we work for a big company that pays our educational tuition, if a doctorate is a dream goal, or if we’re moneyed up.]
- Improve your standardized test scores: If your GPA is a concern, achieving a high score on standardized tests such as the GRE or subject-specific exams can help offset this. Devote time to test preparation, take practice exams, and consider retaking the test if necessary to improve your scores.
[The GMAT is a great test for entry into the business school, but I likely need preparation assistance from a coaching program. The DBA and Executive MBA at AU, I believe, don’t require a GMAT.]
- Gain professional experience: If relevant to your field, gaining professional experience can be valuable. Work in a related industry or organization, and highlight any accomplishments, leadership roles, or projects that demonstrate your skills and dedication.
[Here is where age is an advantage: we may get assigned more leadership roles the more advanced in age we are.]
- Strengthen your writing sample: Submit a strong writing sample that showcases your research abilities, critical thinking, and writing skills. Seek feedback from mentors or faculty members to ensure it is of high quality.
[Again, writing for The Voice Magazine can hone your writing skill.]
- Consider alternative paths to a Ph.D.: If gaining admission to a traditional Ph.D. program proves challenging, explore alternative paths such as professional doctorate programs, research fellowships, or industry-sponsored Ph.D. programs. These options may have different admission requirements or provide opportunities to transition into a doctoral program.
[AU’s Doctorate of Business Administration is a professional doctorate program, which involves practical knowledge as well as theoretical.]
- Reapply in the future: If your initial application is unsuccessful, don’t be discouraged. Take the time to address any weaknesses in your application and continue building your research experience and academic qualifications. Reapply in the future, demonstrating your growth and commitment to your field.”
[This may be an option at AU and other universities in Canada. It may take a waiting period, the upgrading of courses, or reapplication to the same program.]
I then asked ChatGPT, “How can I fund a University of London MSc of Marketing as a Canadian student?”
It replied, “As a Canadian student, there are several options available to you to fund your MSc in Marketing at the University of London. Here are some potential sources of funding to consider:
- Scholarships and Grants: Start by exploring scholarships and grants specifically available to international students studying in the UK. Contact the University of London’s financial aid office or visit their website for information on scholarships and grants they may offer. Additionally, research external funding opportunities, such as government scholarships, private foundations, or organizations offering financial support to Canadian students studying abroad.
[The Foundation Center, renamed as Candid, may still offer the Foundation Directory Online. Simply search “disabilities” and see what funding opportunities exist.]
- Canadian Government Funding: Check if the Canadian government or provincial governments offer any scholarships or grants for students pursuing higher education overseas. Research programs such as Global Affairs Canada’s International Scholarships Program or scholarships provided by your provincial government.
- University Funding: Inquire with the University of London about any funding programs for international students. Many universities offer funding opportunities for international students, particularly tuition fee waivers, research assistantships, or teaching assistantships.
[The University of London offers scholarships, grants, and financial aid to support international students, including students from Canada, according to ChatGPT.]
- Student Loans: Investigate the possibility of obtaining a student loan from a Canadian bank or financial institution. Some banks offer student loans specifically designed for Canadian students studying abroad. Compare interest rates, repayment terms, and eligibility criteria to make an informed decision.
[Banks that offer student loans may require a co-signer and always require a credit check.]
- Work and Save: Consider working part-time or full-time before starting your MSc program to save money for tuition fees and living expenses. Alternatively, depending on the visa regulations and workload, you may work part-time during your studies.
[I’d work full-time during my studies.]
- Crowdfunding or Sponsorship: Explore crowdfunding platforms or seek sponsorship from family, friends, or local businesses who might be interested in supporting your educational pursuits.”
[Crowdfunding campaigns can exist on Kickstarter, Indiegogo, GoFundMe, and Patreon. However, we must promote our campaign on social media, email, and other channels. We’d set a crowdfunding goal for the money required to achieve our educational objectives. This might be an excellent idea for people with a disability to raise funds for their education.]
I spoke in greater depth with ChatGPT, and it presented many ideas and possibilities for achieving a Ph.D. ChatGPT can be our best academic advisor. After all, it took me thirteen years to learn that I didn’t have to give up on the Ph.D. dream. It was always achievable–and it is for all of us at AU. We just need the right information (and strategic effort). That’s because knowledge is power, and ChatGPT offers many insights relevant to our higher education aspirations.
And on that note, there is no wall we can’t overcome with knowledge and effort.