Hi all, I'm a highschool senior trying to make some college-related decisions, and I'd like to ask for some advice.
My current situation is:
- I want to work on technical alignment. For exogenous reasons, not going to college (e.g., taking a year off, just being an autodidact/independent researcher) is not an available option, so I'll have to leverage my undergraduate experience as much as possible to upskill on technical alignment.
- I'll probably double major somewhere along CS/Math and maybe CompBio.
- Accepted to Harvard (non-binding REA). Was planning to apply to Stanford, MIT, Harvey Mudd for RD, but ...
- ... I truly despise the application writing process, every single second of it, and it has taken a significant toll on my mental health. I'd prefer not to go through that again, although I can if necessary.
My considerations are:
- Flexibility - Is it possible to take advanced (under)graduate courses while skipping prerequisites? I've been (and currently am) self-studying a bunch of (under)graduate subjects that I think would be helpful (mainly from the Study Guide) and it'd really suck to have to take them all again just for meeting prereqs for advanced classes.
- I don't really care much about getting class credits as long as (1) I don't get kicked out of school for low credit and (2) the low credits or lack of prereqs won't prevent me from taking advanced subjects later on.
- Are there any alignment research community/group/event nearby?
- No need for financial aid right now.
The impression I got about Harvard (probably not so well-justified, just from anecdotes across reddit/etc) is that they're much less flexible in terms of class choices or prereqs compared to more traditionally "engineering" colleges like eg MIT. I also think the alignment community is mostly centered around the Bay area and that it hasn't really developed much around Harvard yet (I know about HAIST, though!)
Would Harvard be a good option to just go with, or is there enough additional value from Stanford/MIT/Harvey Mudd that it would be worth applying to any one of those colleges? Thanks!
(Apologies in advance if I broke any posting norms.)
My impression is that this is also broadly true of economics at Harvard compared to economics at MIT. The Harvard econ department seems much more open to undergrads taking grad-level classes, and I have the sense that many prerequisites are not enforced. Harvard, in general, seems to do a better job of recognizing that some of its undergraduates are prepared to pursue very advanced coursework very early on in college than those of its peer schools with which I’m most familiar (which, admittedly, are not among the schools you listed). I think there are a lo... (read more)