For the last couple of weeks, we've been getting ready to send our oldest child, Michelle, off to college. After numerous road trips and college applications, we decided that she would attend the State University of New York at Plattsburgh. It's a small school of 10,000 students and is about a 6-hour drive from Long Island, where we live.
When we went to visit the school last October, we met up with Michelle's long-time friend Sophia. They have known each other since they were 2 years old! She joined us on the tour, and gave us some good insights to the school and the town itself.
We also met with one of the transfer admissions counselors who was extremely helpful, and told Michelle exactly what she had to do to get into her preferred major, Communication Disorders. Michelle realized she had to have an exceptional last semester at Nassau Community College and she accomplished that with a 3.55 GPA, which brought her overall GPA to 2.71. The minimum for the program was 2.5, which also comes with a nice transfer grant that goes towards tuition.
With that accomplished, the next thing was applying for loans, registering for classes and ordering books. Check, check and check. It's easier to get rental books online, and have them mailed to the house, and she can take them up to school, and mail them back from there.
Michelle will be living on campus for one semester, and then moving across the street to a rental home with three other girls. The price difference is amazing to say the least. We'll be seeing the house for the first time when we go up this weekend. I can only hope that we like it; otherwise, it's back to square one.
She joined a Plattsburgh Facebook group, which is how she connected with the one girl who found the house. Originally, it was four girls, but one of them dropped out, which created the opening. We finally got the lease, which looks standard. Michelle finally talked with the girl she's been messaging and to text with the landlord as well.
Who would have thought so much would be involved in renting a house for college? Having stayed home, I had no idea. That is one decision I regretted. My sister went away and never looked back.
I thought it was important that Michelle went away to college, and experience living on her own for the first time. It's like throwing a kid into a pool and hoping that they don't drown. This isn't extreme, but you get the idea.
My original thought was that she would go to a school within four hours of home. She disabused me of that idea, quickly, with her choice of major and her grades. Plattsburgh really seemed like the best fit, so we faced the situation and decided that a six-hour road trip was doable, though not easy.
After the October trip, I ended up with an upper respiratory infection that persisted for months. I'm finally over it, and can only hope that doesn't happen again. Being stuck in a car for all those hours can wreak havoc on me.
The hardest part of driving up there is actually getting off Long Island and onto the New York State Thruway, which goes all the way up to Canada. Yes, Plattsburgh is only one hour away from Canada.
We decided, that coming back, we would stop half way in the Albany area, since I didn't want to make the drive home at night. I called Marcy's cousin, Andy, who lives in Clifton Park and asked if we could stay overnight. He said he would get back to us after he checked his travel schedule. Just in case, I reserved hotel rooms, in Malta, New York, where stayed a couple of years ago.
Two weeks ago, Andy called and said we would be able to stay with them, so I cancelled the reservation. As I have gotten older, I dislike driving at night, especially over bridges. When I was on the Tappan Zee in October, I drove in the far left lane at 50 MPH, crazy drivers passing me going 70 or 80 miles per hour. I was white knuckled the whole way and let out an audible sigh when we finally got off the bridge.
This time, most of our driving will be during the day. We'll leave Long Island around 8:30 am, and arrive at the hotel in Plattsburgh around 4 pm. We stop almost every hour to change drivers and hit a bathroom.
The one road that I dislike more than anything is the Cross Bronx Expressway, which is right after the Throgs Neck Bridge. I have to figure out a way to avoid that and still head north. Last time we ended up going too far north and missed the Tappan Zee Bridge, ending at the Newburgh Bridge. That probably cost us an hour or more of time.
Michelle also got to talk to her new roommate who is a senior and offered to help us take everything from the car to the room. Does she know what awaits her? Then, again, she probably does, having been through this so many times.
I believe that going away to college is an experience that all students should experience, be it for two or four years and even more if they choose to get a graduate degree or another degree.
My advice is to start saving for college as soon as your child is born. Put in whatever you can afford, and do it every week or every month, just do it. You can thank me in 18 years.
Matt Seinberg lives on Long Island, a few minutes east of New York City. He looks at everything around him and notices much. Somewhat less cynical than dyed in the wool New Yorkers, Seinberg believes those who don't see what he does like reading about what he sees and what it means to him. Seinberg columns revel in the silly little things of life and laughter as well as much well-directed anger at inept, foolish public officials. Mostly, Seinberg writes for those who laugh easily at their own foibles as well as those of others.
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