But is that necessarily a bad thing? Not completely.
In a piece in last week’s New York Times, Alex Williams explored what college kids and newly minted graduates might be doing this recessionary summer. The answer? For a great many of them, moving back home with mom and pop. He writes:
The well-paying summer jobs that in previous years seemed like a birthright have grown scarce, and pre-professional internships are disappearing as companies cut back across the board. Recession-strapped parents don’t always have the means or will to bankroll starter apartments or art tours of Tuscany.
So many college students and recent graduates are heading to where they least expected: back home, and facing an unfamiliar prospect: downtime, maybe too much of it. To a high-achieving generation whose schedules were once crammed with extracurricular activities meant to propel them into college, it feels like an empty summer — eerie, and a bit scary.
And yet. For a generation that’s been pushed, prodded,”given trophies just for showing up” and told they could do anything so long as they worked hard enough, the staycation in their high school bedroom might in fact have an upside. For one thing, it’s a safe lesson that, no matter how hard you work, life sometimes intervenes. And, hidden at the end of Williams’ story, is another glimpse of a silver lining:
In the short term, the lost summer of 2009 might actually be a blessing, some psychologists said, especially because members of this generation have lived their lives like track stars trying to run a marathon at the pace of a 100-meter dash — their parents typically waiting at every turn with a stopwatch.
“Parents have really put a lot of pressure on the kids — everything has been organized, they’re all taking A.P. courses, then summer hits and they’re going to learning camps,” said Peter A. Spevak, a psychologist in Rockville, Md. Now, he said, with opportunities for achievement at a minimum this summer, “there is something to be said about sitting out on a warm evening and looking at the stars — they need more of this contemplation and self-evaluation.”
In other words, time off the treadmill. Where passions often have time to percolate, and looking at choices becomes less stressful, and more thoughtful.
One of my students recently told me he will be spending his post grad summer living in his parents’ basement — and, since the job prospects are slim and none, taking the time to do some serious work on his writing and his music.
He’s looking forward to it.