Whose Decision Is It Anyway?

I’m a firm believer that getting on the track to pursuing your dreams should begin as early as possible in life. I’ve tried to give my emerging adult children as much support in pursuing their dreams as possible. It was something I never had when making my plans for the future. In fact, I had quite the opposite experience. I was actually dissuaded from even having dreams much less leaving home to pursue them. In my case, I simply escaped, with no plan at all.

So if you read my previous blog, you’ll remember that K and I took a weekend trip to Minneapolis to visit MCAD. It wasn’t his #1 choice, but it was one of the schools where he was accepted and the scholarship they offered him was significant enough that our out-of-pocket expenses would be stretched, but still affordable for us over the next four years. So we went to check it out.

When we got on the Megabus in Indianapolis, it was raining. The bus was running about fifteen minute behind schedule, so when we arrived in Chicago with sunny skies, we only had a few minutes until our next Megabus leg to Minneapolis took off. We drove through the industrial parts of Chicago. Colorful graffiti decorated underpasses, steel structures and concrete bridges that our bus could barely squeeze under. The driver had to slow to a crawl to pass under. Looking up I could see we had less than three inches of clearance.

Later our bus stopped at the University of Wisconsin and a whole slew of college students got on, filling the remaining seats. We had a full six hours on the road before we arrived in Minneapolis. We made friends with the students, Quinn and Poi sitting across from us. They weren’t together, but both were visiting friends in Minneapolis. Kestrel tells Quinn that we’re going to MCAD and Quinn says his girlfriend is a student there. He is hoping to get accepted as well.

When we arrived in Minneapolis, it was 8:20 pm and already dark. According to my “plan” we needed to walk six blocks, and at 9:00 pm catch a 45-minute bus that would take us within a block of our hotel. We were both pretty “bussed” out and tired, so we hailed a taxi at the curb. Ten minutes in a backseat that smelled like a dirty ashtray and we were standing at the hotel check-in. When we flopped on our beds, I knew taking the cab had been the best idea yet (even if it smelled horrible).

In the morning, a couple we met standing at the bus stop told us we were in the right place to catch the downtown bus. The woman quickly took us under her wing and showed us where to go when we got to the Transit Center. On the second bus, on older gentlemen got on explaining to the bus driver that he didn’t have the full fare. I saw the driver motion him to go ahead and sit down. Another woman didn’t have the correct change and someone made change for her. People on the city bus stick together. They are mostly regulars who barely have enough to cover the fare. It is a community of necessity rather than choice.

We got off the bus in downtown Minneapolis and walked four blocks to Enterprise car rental. I had booked a car through Priceline. I figured that having our own transportation would be cheaper than taking a taxi everywhere we needed to go. At least that was the thinking (FYI, booking travel pans online can bring surprises and added costs). Online, the Enterprise website allowed me to book a car for one day with the intent to return the car early on Sunday morning and drop the key in their night drop box. However, Sunday is a day that (to our surprise) the downtown Enterprise is closed. When the man at the counter says, “that will be two days,” and swipes my card, I complain. “I booked the car for one day, not two.” “Well,” he says, “I can’t check the car back in until Monday; so technically, you’ll have the car for two days.”

Wow! 107 dollars for one day of use! I’m floored and frustrated. For a minute, I thought about telling the Enterprise car guy to forget it, but then I remember that our bus leaves town at 6:30 am and the rental car is our only option to get back and forth from the hotel at that hour. If I’d been thinking more clearly (less emotionally), I probably could have done the math and realized that using the buses to get around town and a taxi to take us back to our hotel and return us to the bus station in the morning would have been cheaper. But, I was worried about getting where we needed to be on time. It was hard to surrender amid unfamiliar territory. In the moment, I felt like I needed some control, so we took the car.

Kestrel in class
Kestrel in class

We drove straight to MCAD, got free parking on the street and made it in time for coffee and doughnuts. We toured the halls filled with MCAD’s student work and studios. After a brief introduction and an almost humorous alumni presentation, K got to take a workshop from an MCAD instructor on Flash animation. They served a pasta lunch and hosted a Q and A with seniors and juniors followed by dormitory tours. After the information sessions, K and I toured the Minneapolis Institute of Art, which was free, by the way, and the high point of our trip (picture gallery below). I highly recommend the Art Institute as a destination point. It can provide several days of exploration if you dig that kind of stuff, which we do.

I realized over the course of the day, (admitted student visit day), that K and I have two totally different decisions to make. Although I had been thinking it was my job to convince him to choose the “right” place, that really wasn’t my choice to make. It really isn’t up to me “where” he goes to school. What I have to decide, based on the overall cost of the education (and considering fin aid), is how much am I willing to contribute. And from there, he has to decide what kind of college experience he wants to have (how much available money he will have, how much he will need to work, how much debt he will incur and what opportunities he will have). These are not my decisions.

So over pizza for dinner at Divanni’s, I give him my number. I know he wishes that it were more, that a high-priced college experience might be in his future (somehow). And deep down, I feel the disappointment with him. But I also believe that the college experience he has will largely be determined by what he makes of it and I know enough about him to feel confident that he will be fabulous and that when it’s over he will have no regrets.

Sunday morning we woke up to steady rain coming down at 5 am. We drove the rental car back to town, arriving right at 6. We parked the car, locked it dropped the keys in the box. We slung our packs on our backs and popped open our umbrellas to head off into the rain toward the Megabus stop. On a fair weather day, the 20 minute walk would have been no big deal. But it was 45 degrees out, and the wind was blowing the rain into our faces like Niagara Falls. We trekked as fast as possible, stopping only to check the directions once. Wearing several layers of clothes, we carried everything we had, including our computers and food, in our packs, as if we were two travelers abroad. We made it to the bus stop with five minutes to spare and I told K he was a great traveling companion because he never once complained. Instead, we congratulated each other with a high five when we arrived at the bus stop, cold and wet, but happy to see the warm Megabus waiting for us.














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