Sybil Low by Sybil Low

In 2023 Reddit became a place for many students and even educators to vent, seek support, or ask for advice. A lot of heated discussions have started here so let’s see what topics resonated most with the Reddit audience in 2033.

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PhD is a Tough Road

This year seemed to pose a lot of challenges for the current and prospective PhD students, as studying for a doctoral degree became one of the most discussed topics on Reddit. 

Reddit in a Year: Hottest Discussions of 2023
Image: unsplash.com

One key area of concern that emerged was the rate of failure in qualifying exams, a crucial milestone in the PhD journey. Many students shared their anxieties and sought advice on how to navigate this phase. Most mentioned that the probability of success mostly depended on the program you chose to apply to. For some of these courses, the pass rate could be as low as 50% on the first attempt. The form of the exam, whether written or oral, was mentioned as yet another contributing factor. So, after all, Redditors noted a lot of variables, not giving a specific answer on how to ensure success.

Another significant discussion revolved around the idea of taking a break after completing a PhD. Students grappling with the intense demands of doctoral studies explored the merits and potential downsides of a hiatus, seeking insights from the wider Reddit community. It was very clear that even those who started their professional careers right after graduation didn’t view such a path as an optimal choice. After all, most students voiced the same thought: it’s better to be well-rested than burned out just after a couple of working weeks. Additionally, a forthright conversation unfolded around the experiences of dealing with toxic Ph.D. advisors, underlining the mental and emotional toll such situations can take on students. 

Despite these challenges, there was also a lighter side to the discussions. Users shared the unique perks of being a Ph.D. student, such as rewarding career opportunities, a flexible schedule, and a great deal of practical experience even before the degree is finished. All the insights undoubtedly brought a sense of camaraderie and humor to the often back-breaking process of pursuing a doctorate.

Future Job Prospects: Are They Bright After All?

The job market is constantly changing. However, this year’s shifts can be only compared to seismic activity. 

Reddit in a Year: Hottest Discussions of 2023
Image: pexels.com

On Reddit, the discussions mirrored this tumult, with students and recent graduates voicing their fears about navigating the job market post-graduation. The prevailing sentiment was one of apprehension, with many expressing concern over the uncertainty and competitiveness they face. Nonetheless, anxiety regarding future career prospects wasn’t the only concern, as the conversation also touched upon the quality of the job market itself. Some users on Reddit described it as the “trashiest” they’ve seen in over three decades, reflecting a deep dissatisfaction with the current state of employment opportunities. This sentiment was largely fueled by experiences of unstable job offers, underemployment, and the struggle to find positions that align with one’s qualifications and aspirations.

Don’t be fooled by the negative experiences though. In a more positive light, there was also a sharing of success stories and advice. One particularly notable thread discussed how to navigate towards a $200,000 career, offering strategies and insights from those who have achieved significant milestones in their professional journeys. Of course, most of them mentioned joining the tech industry, finance, or health care. So, after all, there can be a glimmer of hope and a roadmap for others aiming to achieve similar success in this volatile job landscape.

ChatGPT in the Life of a Student

After making a truly knockdown appearance at the beginning of the year, ChatGPT turned everything 180°. Now, many students can’t view their lives without this tool. It simplifies many processes, such as researching, analyzing, and summarizing. Honestly, if used properly, it can make everything better. But not everything was all rainbows, butterflies, and unicorns in the relationship between students and ChatGPT.

On Reddit, the chatter about ChatGPT in student life is as varied as it is vibrant. Some posts read like success stories, with students sharing how ChatGPT played a crucial role in helping them graduate. These confessions sparked a mix of reactions, from admiration to heated debates over the ethics of using AI in academia. It’s a real eye-opener to the powerful impact of AI, but it also stirs up serious questions about what it means to truly earn a degree.

Reddit in a Year: Hottest Discussions of 2023
Image: pexels.com

On the flip side, there’s the tale of a student who got caught submitting a ChatGPT-written essay, teetering on the brink of expulsion. This story became a hot topic, sparking discussions about the fine line between leveraging AI as a tool and crossing into academic dishonesty. It was yet another sobering reminder of the need to balance AI’s capabilities with a commitment to genuine learning and integrity.

And then, there was that intriguing story of a high school professor integrating ChatGPT into computer science classes, revealing just how versatile this tool can be. The educator used ChatGPT to facilitate more interactive and engaging coding lessons. The tool was employed not just for coding exercises, but also to demonstrate real-time debugging and problem-solving strategies in a way that captivated students’ interest. This insight went beyond the usual narrative, highlighting ChatGPT’s potential to revolutionize not just student assignments, but entire teaching methodologies.

Duolingo – The Ruler Among Language Learners

Language learning is always popular, but this year’s heated debates weren’t as much about the language acquisition process, as they were about Duolingo. The Reddit community was abuzz with discussions ranging from frustrations over lost progress to the fairness of Duolingo’s competitive leagues.

One of the major concerns raised was why Duolingo seemed to reset user progress unexpectedly. Learners shared their dismay and confusion over losing their hard-earned milestones, seeking explanations and solidarity from fellow users. This issue brought to light the app’s technical glitches and their impact on the user experience, especially considering the frequency of updates on the app.

Then there was a whole lot of talk about whether Duolingo’s leagues were fair. Users debated over the competitiveness of these leagues, discussing whether the system was equitable and if it genuinely motivated learners or merely added unnecessary pressure. This brought up a real issue for language learners: is the gamified approach really helpful when you want to learn?

Reddit in a Year: Hottest Discussions of 2023
Image: unsplash.com

Cheating on Duolingo? Yep, that was a big topic too.  Users were buzzing about whether people were gaming the system and what that meant for everyone else trying to climb up those leaderboards fair and square. Allegedly, some users were exploiting loopholes to rack up points unfairly. This wasn’t just a couple of people either. The community was noticing a trend where scores that seemed impossibly high were popping up, sparking suspicions. This whole cheating saga had everyone questioning the point of the leaderboard system. Was it motivating learners, or just turning into a race where a few sneaky players were sprinting ahead using shortcuts? 

A big question on everyone’s mind also was whether Duolingo could get you to an advanced level in a language, like B2 level kind of good. People had mixed feelings – some said it was great for beginners but not so much for getting fluent. Others noted that even if one could pass an exam for a B2 level after studying with Duolingo, it wouldn’t necessarily mean that they knew the language. Studying for the test is not the same as preparing for real-life communication after all.

And finally, the age-old debate: is learning with Duolingo as good as immersing yourself in a language? People shared all kinds of opinions on whether tapping away on an app could ever beat being surrounded by the language every day. Some argued that while Duolingo is a great tool for beginners, it can’t quite match the experience of being surrounded by a language. They pointed out that immersion forces you to use the language in real-life situations, which is a crucial step in becoming truly fluent. It’s about picking up nuances, slang, and cultural context that an app might not fully capture. On the other side of the debate, Duolingo enthusiasts highlighted the app’s convenience and fun factor. For many, it’s the first step into the world of a new language, offering an easy and accessible way to start learning. Plus, not everyone has the opportunity to travel or live in a country where the language is spoken, making Duolingo a practical alternative. In the end, everything came down to the good old balance: both Duolingo and immersion have their strengths and limitations, so it’s worth combining the best of both worlds.

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