What factors make EA outreach at a school valuable?

post by BrownHairedEevee (evelynciara) · 2022-04-26T06:07:16.467Z · EA · GW · 1 comments

This is a question post.

Schools (including colleges, universities, and high schools) are a major target of EA community building efforts. As far as I've seen, many of these programs focus on "top schools", but it's not clear to me why top schools are so special for EA community building, and it worries me because only doing outreach at top schools can lead to elitism and prevent us from being the diverse and inclusive community that we can be. (After all, not all of the smartest students go to the Ivies!)

But there are tens of thousands of schools in the U.S.[1], so it seems necessary to prioritize among them when deciding where to allocate scarce community building resources. It seems to me, though, that having more objective criteria for evaluating schools in terms of EA community building potential would lead to more effective and fair triaging of CB resources. So what makes some schools more worthwhile to do CB at than others?

  1. ^

    According to the U.S. National Center for Education Statistics, the U.S. had 98,469 public schools and 4,313 postsecondary, degree-granting institutions in the 2017-18 academic year.

Answers

answer by Arjun Yadav · 2022-04-26T06:39:26.813Z · EA(p) · GW(p)

I think focusing on outreach to top schools is less about elitism and more about the potential to have a greater impact (which is sort of talked about here [EA · GW]). I guess we suspect that spreading our community building resources to thousands of schools in America won't be as effective as focusing on the couple hundred universities that have a track record of producing high-impact students, labs, projects, etc. (such as the Ivies or the UC's)

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