Salutations, all. I'm new, so I apologize in advance if I'm breaking any forum etiquette. I'd describe myself as being Effective Altruism adjacent--I'm a long-time fan of web logs like Slate Star Codex and 80,000 Hours. Historically, however, such things as planning a career or buying things with money have been painfully theoretic for me; I'm somewhat unlearned on the practical applications of effective altruism. I would love advice from those better learned on what to read, who to talk to, and what to do.

To better describe my background and skills; my username is more or less accurate--I have precious little background, and precious few skills. I didn't always have internet or even clean water growing up, my family belonged to one of those churches where ignorance of the world is the only route to heaven, and my education could be charitably described as sporadic. There are holes in my knowledge of reality that one could drive a motorcade through, if one were so inclined--I've no idea how to do anything that anyone wants done, and I've only gotten that far thanks to charity and the American welfare state. I failed the tenth grade, which I found to be--in the lexicon of Edison--an opportunity wearing work clothes; I dropped out and took the GED, and thus didn't have a high school GPA to be held against my ACT score when I applied for college and loans. I've somehow found myself a nineteen year old undergraduate attending a state university, funding secured thanks to the generous taxpayer, on track to living the good life.

At this point all the problems in my life that aren't solved are at least being solved, provided I put in the time. I've no doubt in my ability to earn a four-year degree, draw an above-average American salary, live on ten thousand dollars of it a year, and then FIRE a decade after I graduate. I'm still shocked by this development--it seems unreal. I barely even had to lift a finger to make it happen--unaware at the time how important it was, I didn't even study for the ACT.

Now that my life is so serendipitously under control, I want to do what I can to help people less fortunate. That means learning more about EA, and planning my career. I would be very grateful for advice on what skills I should learn, what books I should read, and what projects I should undertake. I'm still young, and I want to make the most of my time and neuroplasticity while I still have it.


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Welcome! I like your writing. I found it humorous and moving. As for your question, I think you'll good general advice here:

I agree! This was a very charming post and I smiled a lot as I read it.

That's good news for the old self esteem--now I'm smiling too!

Thank you for the kind words and actionable advice.

I already had the vague idea to organize a student group when the current pandemic plaguing us is resolved--following advice I found on 80,000 Hours for students while in school--but I didn't know where to even begin doing it, and so I had no real plans. Now that I've read a case study or so, I want to have the student group up and running when the fall semester starts.

So, again, thank you.

Welcome to the community! And congratulations on your achievements so far!

It could be worth learning study skills so that you can do better in your degree and/or get your coursework done in less time, freeing up your time to learn other things, explore EA, or just have fun.

I was surprised when coming to university how much people study skills differed, and I don’t think it’s unreasonable to say that you can free up weeks (months?) of your time and save yourself a lot of stress through good study skills.

I’d recommend the cousera course called learning how to learn.

Beyond this, university is a great time to try new things, try out new lifestyles and habits, and do self improvement. Going through the things in this list would get you off to a flying start, I reckon I’d also just recommend trying out new societies and clubs that are available at your university, in case you find something interesting and useful or fun.

Thank you for the warm welcome and the advice--I just made an account on Coursera's website and am enrolled in the course you recommended. (On the presumption that the certificate isn't worth the ink I'd have to print it with, I opted not to pay for the course--if I exist mortal error plz do tell.)

I've already read what 80,000 Hours had to say about being successful--applying it, now that will be the truer test.

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Welcome! And congratulations on your achievements, which I'm sure you are more responsible for than modesty would allow you to acknowledge.

I thank you for your welcome, and your magnanimity, and the sentiment.

Though, I'm being honest--radically honest, as some are inclined to be when pseudonymous--when I say that I've only "achieved" two things: I've lucked into better than average genes and memes, and I've persisted long enough to see the sun set an arbitrary number of times. I didn't do much of anything to make my life better or to rise above my circumstances--I just ran out the clock. In a sense I've lived a hard life, but in no sense a difficult one. (But praise Pelor am I glad to have finally made it out that utter slog of a game tutorial--whoever designed it has no idea how pacing even works.)

Hey there! Why not study philosophy and morality so you can see what you want to 'plug those holes' with that you say you have. I'd also be happy to be a touch point/ test for you as you go through applying 80 000 hours success advice?