Road Trips – Part II (Off to See the Future) (Re-Blog)

I-87 split

Click to enlarge photo

In approximately 11th grade, your child will begin thinking about which college he or she would like to attend.  In most cases, the college he or she really wants will be as FAR AWAY FROM MOM AND DAD AS POSSIBLE.

In our case, in order to get New York State  funding, our children pretty much had to attend college in New York State, which at least made the pre-college tours manageable.

Oldest Child (Cordelia)

Cordelia was easy.  She was awarded a very substantial scholarship to a great college right in our own hometown, and we only had to drop her off for a weekend there so she could have a mini-dorm experience.  That was  bad enough – the school  was IN THE CITY, and we are SUBURBANITES.  But she survived.

Middle Child

Our experience with  Cordelia made it somewhat easier when the next kid  began considering schools.  So we took a weekend  trip to view some of her choices.

I loved  SUNY-Geneseo – great little campus away from everything (literally), the students I saw all appeared to take their studies seriously, and it was the only school we looked at that  required an essay from the parents as to why their child should be invited to attend.  It seemed to be a parent’s dream college.  All I heard from my kid when we left there was, “There’s nothing to do there” (read, “no party places.”)

From there, we drove to SUNY-Albany.  At that time, SUNY-Albany (I believe) was rated in a survey of college students as one of  “the party schools” in the country.  The dorms were situated in two very high towers (can you say 9/11?), and even the “model” dorm room we were shown totally sucked.  Thank God, my kid didn’t like that school any more than we did.

So, did she choose either of those schools we had visited?  Of course not – she chose another college, which just happened to be in a town with lots of partying possibilities.

(Good thing, Mom and Dad were only 3 hours away – far enough that we didn’t know what really went on there, but close enough to handle The Emergency Call [after a night of partying, of course]).

Admittedly, the college she chose did have excellent programs, which led to a four-year degree and a decent job right out of school, so in hindsight it wasn’t the worst possible choice.

Youngest Child – Are We Done Yet?

The most memorable pre-college trip was with my youngest daughter.  This was a child who had never been away from home and never indicated that she wanted to be far from the fold.  So, when she kept insisting on colleges at the other end of the state, I finally told Dad, “Ok, I’ll take her.  Once she sees how far from home it is, she’ll change her mind.”

We based ourselves in Poughkeepsie and drove from there to the various schools we were interested in. Cordelia went with us.

We all loved Vassar College – charming little college town, historic old buildings.  And a gateway guard with a true sense of humor.  I asked  where we should park, and he said “right over there.”  “Right over there” required parallel parking, which I’ve never been good at.  By the time I maneuvered into the spot, we had quite a crowd gathered, all of whom were trying not to laugh.  It was only after our tour that I  found out there was an actual parking lot just past the building in front of which I had parallel parked!

Unfortunately, Vassar also has a humungous tuition cost – way out of our league.  But I did buy a really nice coffee mug.

Our next visit was to SUNY-Purchase.  Now, I had  been there 20 years or so before when my husband had a job interview in the area.  At that time, I was quite impressed with the fairly new campus out in farmland and the areas where construction was obviously about to start.  20 years later, I was quite impressed that the “about to start” construction apparently never did start and the campus had not changed a bit, except to become pretty run-down.

Although the school is known for an excellent music program, after tripping over a few broken pavement stones, my daughter decided she was not interested.


(Note:  Our visit to SUNY Purchase was in 2007 – according to the link, above, construction was done in 2013.)


On to the next stop – Sarah Lawrence College.  We only went there because Cordelia and I had both wanted to attend for its writing program and wanted to see what the campus was like (and to dream).   Loved the school, hated the traffic.

After our tour, our route back to Poughkeepsie required that we merge onto a busy parkway and then immediately get into the far left lane to merge onto a busy expressway to take us back to our hotel.  Sounded easy enough when I Mapquested it.

But we hit rush hour.

When we got to the approach to the parkway, I realized traffic in the far left lane was backed up for miles in the other direction, and I had to be able to get in and merge to the left immediately.  Couldn’t get to the end of the line without going the wrong  way for miles.

That old Toyota Camry commercial ran through my head (“Punch it, Margaret!”).  I said to myself:  I can do this!

Got onto the parkway with no problem (not much traffic in the first 2 lanes – everyone was in that far left lane).  Merging became an issue.  I kept pace with traffic, with my left signal blinking – surely someone would let me in (See the Buffalo, NY plates, everyone?  Obviously, I’m not used to this road.)

There appeared to be a break behind a lady driving an SUV.  I attempted to merge – she slowed down to block me.  Now there was a space in front of her.  I speeded up – she speeded up to block me.  I would have thought she was just not paying attention, were it not for the smirk on her face as she clearly looked over at my smaller vehicle.

Flying MonkeysThe on ramp to the expressway was coming up fast.  Either I got into that far left lane, or we were heading towards New York City!  I could see the sign ahead on the right announcing the approach to the Tappan Zee Bridge (“I would turn back if I were you!”).  Ok, maybe that last was just my panicked brain talking, but I sure didn’t want to find out what was on the far side of the Tappan Zee, at least not today.

The crosshairs for the split appeared, and I was still trying to merge.  The lady in the SUV was still playing games.  I screamed, “God damn it, LET ME IN!”  She laughed and continued to keep pace.

Finally, at the very last possible moment, the driver of the old beater car behind the SUV took pity on me and let me in.  Whew!

For those of you who are now sure that Cordelia’s Mom is a lunatic (I know my kids thought so at the time), had I not been able to merge, I would, in fact, l have simply driven across the bridge and then merely turned around and headed back, hopefully with an easier merge in the other direction. (And hopefully not being  pursued by flying monkeys.)

So, did this child attend any of the schools we had looked at?  Of course not.  She got the same scholarship to the same school in our hometown that Cordelia had attended.  Funny how funding can make the college decision so much easier!

And – We’re Done!

No one ever said that raising kids would be easy.  But it certainly is an experience!  And I definitely am glad that I am on the far side of that experience.


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Images by MPD01605 and Paul Farla, respectively

This entry was posted in Humor, Re-Blogs, Road Trips & Cars, That's Life and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to Road Trips – Part II (Off to See the Future) (Re-Blog)

  1. Paul says:

    Ha! I actually did that one day – went across the Tappan Zee by mistake with a tractor trailer – and the toll booth guards laughed at me. Apparently I was not alone. The roads in that area are, how shall I say it?, inventively routed. Love exit 14 A, B, C, D , E on the Jersey Pike. I too chose my university because of funding. it was close enough that I could and did go home for lunch.

    By the way, this !@#$ post I am working on is almost done – written and putting in pics. Should be to you today. Let me know what you think. 😀


  2. Amazing tales of chosing colleges for kids. Adventure trips you had.


  3. My granddaughter selected her college from the four acceptances she got (out of four applications). She chose this one because it had the whole 4-year nursing program and the others would have required she transfer for the second half of the program (they had pre-nursing, but not the R.N.). It’s a commuter school, no dorms. But she has a scholarship which covers full tuition. Now, she just needs to find a part time job that will cover her gasoline because she is going to be doing a lot of driving. Until she gets tired of doing that and decides to get a room and a roommate near school (which is what I did since my Alma Mater didn’t have dorms when I attended it — it does now, of course).

    We choose colleges for odd reasons. I had those New York-based scholarships too, so I knew I’d be going to an in-state school. I didn’t like Albany, but I like Stonybrook. There was another one I liked that had a great music program. And I wound up at Hofstra because I was accepted into New College and could get my B.A. in 3 years. I was only 16, so I have no idea what my hurry was. In the end, it too my 4-1/2 years anyway. I like college. I wanted to hang around forever 🙂


    • SUNY-Fredonia and SUNY-Purchase were, and I believe still are, considered the top schools for music. We already knew about Fredonia because my brother went there, so we decided to look at Purchase. Had my daughter really had her heart set on music, she maybe would have gone there despite what we thought of the campus. She wound up going for a double major in psychology and German.


  4. Teela Hart says:

    Ahh… The joys of parenthood.

    Liked by 1 person

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