We have a small MA program here at NWU. It serves mostly people who feel geographically located and don't want to move elsewhere along with the occasional person who did a BA here and thinks this school is the be all.
Our program isn't great, alas. Part of it has to do with resources, and part with our students. It's not that some of them aren't capable. But even the most capable students tend to think of getting an MA here as a part-time thing, so they put it on the back burner, especially after their first year. That means that they take a partial or full load of classes their first year, and the structure means that they usually get the work done. And then they're basically told to find someone to write a thesis with. Sometimes, they have a good idea, find someone, and get right to work, finishing in a year.
But sometimes, not. Other things get in the way. And then a couple years go by, and they think, oh, I need to finish that. Or they get a letter telling them that they need to finish by the next semester. So they think of something to write on, and do a desperate search for a thesis director. Then they apply for extra time.
I'm working with three thesis students now. Two of them are on their final extensions. Both had extensions before they even asked me to be their director. And both are desperate to finish.
The thing is, with both of these two students, they tend to contact someone (me, in these cases) and they want to finish. And they have an idea, so I give them feedback. And then six months later, they come back with a half-assed draft of a prospectus or something, and want to get things hopping. It's not that I'm unsympathetic, and I try to read quickly, but when I hear from someone only after six months, and suddenly they expect me to tell them they're geniuses and doing great stuff when they aren't, I get frustrated.
I think the problem is that my expectations are that graduate work should be a fairly high priority, at least as high for the student as it is for me. And they have way higher priorities, but still expect me to read and respond to their work quickly, even during the summer (when I'm not on contract, but I am trying not to be a jerk about it). Further, it's all done longish distance, because they're closer to here than anywhere else, but don't want to arrange to drive 50+ miles to talk about a chapter.
Now back to reading. I don't know what to say to this student about this chapter.
I've told the third student that I don't want to hear every six months, but expect more regular contact. And I actually have high hopes, since this student hasn't gotten anywhere near the point of needing an extension, has done a draft of a chapter, and has a really solid idea.