Sunday, January 11, 2015


So I have family gossip to ponder over, and who do I have to gossip to about it? This blog, that's who.

You might remember that my nephew got in to Local State School and struggled mightily, and was put on academic probation and then kicked out at the end of his second year. He says he can petition to go back if he does certain things and gets a certain GPA with the next 30 units or something, but when I talked to him later he said something about not being so keen on that school any more and if he transferred back he would probably pick this other state school or maybe that one or maybe this private school over here. On top of that, I have to wonder how many more years he would have to go if he has to do 30 units on top of all the units he already did --- he would either be re-doing a year or adding it or only being at Local State for a semester or something.

Anyway, he had immense trouble completing his English 1A course and I think failed it a couple times (and not having that gateway course completed helped mess up his state school situation in terms of getting into other courses in time) and has also done the drop/fail pattern in other classes since coming back to Neighborhood Corner Community College. He is making some progress, but I feel like not being able to carry a full-time load and pass all of those classes will be a bad mark on him when (or if) he transfers back somewhere.

Now he will be taking --- again --- his English 1B, which is what the Cal States all want for the second semester, I think. He dropped it when it was clear he was failing it last semester because, according to him, it was a hybrid course and he didn't do well with that format. I think he just didn't do a single one of the online whatevers.

All of this is worrisome, but in the greater scheme of things, almost completely irrelevant. His big problem, given that he is an engineering major, is that he has struggled with and failed various versions of his calculus classes (I think he is supposed to take a series of 3). Yeah, engineering schools are not going to be impressed with that. Some of the times he failed a course it was because he didn't get it, others that, since he couldn't get into any of the GE classes with a 1A writing prerequisite, he loaded up his whole schedule with his upper-div engineering classes ... other times, he forgot to get up regularly when his alarm went off for that 8 am class, and another time he forgot/didn't know when to take his final exam. Oh my poor boy.

I understand that part of his problems in the dorms/reason he went on probation that first year was depression, and I understand that he also has papers for ADD/various learning disabilities, but HOLY HELL WHO ON EARTH WILL EVER HIRE YOU IF YOU CAN'T GET TO WORK ON TIME REGULARLY AND CAN'T GET YOUR PROJECTS IN BY THE DEADLINES?!?!?! Ahem. Sorry.

As you can see, I'm sympathetic, but not really sympathetic. I know that engineers/computer science people are supposedly not really credentialist and you don't have to have degrees to get the job, just show you can do the work, but ... dude, you can't do the work! You are falling down on the basic skills of time management and professionalism that all jobs will want from you no matter what type of job it is! And my students here might be completely unable to face any sort of negative criticism but, I can tell you from having a family full of engineers and from going to visit their workplaces, if you are doing a shit job, engineers will tell you in exactly those words that you are doing a shit job.

So over break my sister and I, as nosy aunts, were discussing my nephew's problems. Do you think he can get a college degree? Do you think he is not capable of it, either smarts-wise or disability-wise or whatever ? my sister finally asked. I dunno about in general, but engineering is a pretty packed and brutal degree, was my response. We tried to figure out if he should just get some sort of technical help job at Fry's or Best Buy and do that instead, either for a while or as a job job.

We are on different places as to what is the problem. I would say that this whole side of the family has some pretty terrible maturity and capability problems, from just having spent break with them. I understand that sending the kid off to college seems to have led to a depressive episode, but now that he is living back home, his mom is dealing with all of his problems for him. She is very motherly and clingy and she did him no favors by doing him tons of favors all through high school, if you get my drift. He failed classes left and right by not turning in stuff and then she went in at the end of the semester and pulled strings and got everything reversed. It is very very depressing to spend time with them over break and watch a 21 year old and 24 year old squabble and regress and behave like 6 year olds and to have my brother/sis-in-law treat them as such. I guess my advice would be massive amounts of group cognitive therapy for the whole family. But that doesn't really work as a suggestion.

Anyway, that's the old news. The new news is that my niece --- the one listed in the above paragraph --- just got rejected to the teacher credential program she applied to. I still need to get the details on that. She's the one who struggled at first --- or maybe the real description is that she didn't struggle all that hard at first --- in community college, but eventually got the degree and transferred to a (state party school) and graduated. I hadn't thought it was that competitive or difficult to get into a teacher ed program --- but I know that my niece also thought of it that way too, so I wonder how much effort she put in to her application. So, both kids are living back at home and are having to take some hard stock of their lives and dreams and choices. Except I know their mom is absolutely thrilled to have them back at home and would like nothing better than to have them bake cookies with her every afternoon like when they were 6, so I don't know how much they are actually going to take hard looks and ask hard questions.

That's all I've got. I don't know what advice to give. I don't know how to help them solve it. I alternate between sympathy and a little shadenfreude, a little bit of "I told you so and have been pointing out this is a problem for many years now." If they didn't live in the middle of the most expensive rental market in the US I would say kicking them out and forcing them to go it on their own would be a great way of building up their maturity, but I don't really know how one creates maturity. It's just all one big mess.


Anonymous said...

After he grows up a little bit, he might consider Engineering Technology. It's more hands on and not as brutal, so it might work better with his LD. (Of course, there's nothing wrong with social sciences or humanities either.)

And hey, at least neither of them is 19 and pregnant with a second child after getting arrested for stealing the baby daddy's gun and assaulting the baby daddy's latest girlfriend after finding them together in bed. (We visited DH's family over Christmas and got caught up with *their* family gossip.)

Bardiac said...

With adults, pretty much all you can do is be supportive, and let them live their lives, in this sort of situation. It's hard doing that, of course.

By the way, I'm not a robot, but am a cyborg. (Just so the capcha knows.)

Anonymous said...

Sort of a mean-spirited post. Disappointed. You don't seem to know depression--I'm sure you'll claim to. But you don't. It's not easy as get up and do your work. I really enjoy this blog normally.

Steve Fellner

Sisyphus said...

Yeah I'm not a sympathetic person. I'm a terrible terrible person. I don't claim to know depression at all. And I really don't buy it coming as an 11th hour excuse from my nephew, who has said and done many many things to avoid hitting any consequences all through high school.