johnburidan

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Many Undergrads Should Take Light Courseloads

Rare voice of disagreement here, or at least an alternative perspective. I agree with basic idea, but it's too specific.

My motto: One should not let school get in the way of one's education. Sometimes that means taking fewer classes... Usually it means not wasting time in other ways, though. You shouldn't cut classes until you've already cut out many other non-educational low impact things. Classes are usually the most valuable thing offered by a university - finding the good ones pays dividends longer than most other things one does in college.

After freshman year, I quit video games: a kind of sad but important decision. By senior year, I committed myself to hosting study parties on Friday nights instead of carousing - graduating a semester early.

I did one major, two minors, worked a tech job 12 - 15 hours a week, and was part of and eventual leader of several clubs, including one as a magazine editor. But I also knew my GPA was going to be lower as a result, and I didn't care. Sometimes I would sacrifice school for long conversations on philosophy or reading a text in the arboretum... And I called that in 'true education.'

I only took classes I wanted to take. I only studied under professors with good reputations for teaching. I joined organizations which I could learn from and make a difference.

Otoh, I also created more animosity between my vision of education and the university than was necessary.

The boring truth about these decisions is that there is a Production Possiblity Curve available to you, and you should get on it so that you can gain the most skills, taking the best classes, while crafting the best social system possible at a personally sustainable and efficient use of your time and resources.

[Link] "How feasible is long-range forecasting?" (Open Phil)

When you have these long term predictions which you plan on keeping track of, it is helpful, if possible, to create multiple models to apply to each forecast so that in the retrospective one can determine which, if any of the models, was more successful than the others.

So perhaps you have a prediction about how many volunteers will be required for a particular initiative to save x lives 10 years out. If you keep three separate forecasting reports which are explicit about their reasoning, then the iterative improvement process can happen a bit more quickly.