Well, this was about the perfect length of time for visiting my family --- I probably needed more time to get caught up with all the little details about all of them, but it was not so much time that they got on my nerves and I snapped at them. Not too much, anyway.
Unfortunately, I am dumb. And with next to no willpower. So while I have been vacationing this week, I have not been grading anything on my huge pile of grading. Ugh. And the slacking started before I left, too, with the excuses that travelling makes me nervous and unable to concentrate. And then I got here, which I associate with hanging out and doing nothing, and it was impossible to overcome that and actually work. Since my car is back in Postdoc City, I was effectively trapped in my parents' house in Utter Suburbia and was unable to make it to a coffee shop and grade. I regret that, but more because I went from the Mecca of coffeeshops to a new state that does not believe in coffee, and I miss my Peets or the half dozen local, independently owned places where I used to work. Ah well.
My niece has yet another hair-brained education scheme, which may in fact be the workable one; I just know nothing about it. She's very immature emotionally, I may have mentioned before, and is still living at home and fumbling her way through community college and not thinking very much or in very adult ways about the future. She did finally get her driver's license and a job selling clothes at the local mall, so that's something. Her parents are still paying for everything except some pocket money, so that's something else, but I guess I was being completely supported at her age too. I did stuff like study and plan instead of flunk out of high school, however.
So anyway: she had a chorus part in a high school musical and then worked tech on two shows at her community college, and she loves to dance (she's definitely socially/tactilely oriented rather than verbal or logical), and she had the idea she was going to become a professional actress. We were all dubious, not really because she doesn't seem very good, but because even when she was "working" at it, she had no fire. I had friends who loved acting more than anything else in the world, who were in a dozen or more shows over the course of high school and were constantly on the look out for how they could land the next audition --- they were driven in a way my niece was not. It's a competitive field and she is lazy, to put it frankly, and seemed to just "like" the idea rather than eat sleep and breathe it.
Her plan was to finish the cc and transfer into an exclusive private art school and if she didn't work at being a famous singer/actress, then she would go into "doing film." I don't know in what role because she never figured out what people did on films. (And I was interested in that type of job for about 5 minutes until I worked on a student set and learned just how boring and mind-numbing it was to sit through light setup and coverage shots and whatnot; I'm sure she would find it like that as well.) My brother pretty much hyperventilated at sending a slacker daughter to a school with that kind of price tag. Especially when she couldn't tell him what people did on set.
She seems to have given up on this idea, which I do feel a little sorry about, and has moved on to "something to do with psychology." I don't think she has taken a psych class yet. But this could be a perfectly acceptable undergrad major option. She was thinking of doing something with counseling and early-childhood psychology. She set off a red flag for me, though, when she mentioned she would rather work with kids because "their problems were much less serious, I mean in a heavy way." Hmm.
This is a kid whose room is still decorated in Disney and who still plays with toys. I worry that even the "not as heavy" problems a kid would be experiencing would be too much for her level of maturity --- if she's still squicked out by sex, how would she deal with child abuse etc etc? Are there other directions she could take a psych degree without dealing so much with trauma? Is there some sort of handy-dandy book that lists out various career directions she could take a psych degree? I'm not sure I should be the one finding the book/advice for her, though, considering that a lack of initiative and motivation has been her major problem all along. But what do I know. I am not the best source for job and career advice, no?
I guess the topic interests me also because this seems to be the case for more of my students than not these days. All of the articles about the "pressures of college" (especially in the NYT) use the overscheduled overachiever as their norm. What do you tell the students who aren't particularly driven in any areas and who have no interests? No marketable interests, anyway --- being good at the xbox or putting on makeup or decorating one's room doesn't count.
Any advice on the subject would be appreciated, however. And please grade a few essays on your way out.