Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Packing his bags for Boston August 28, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 6:00 AM
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HE FLEW INTO MINNESOTA from Washington state, arriving at Bethany Lutheran College in Mankato, Minnesota, with a suitcase and a clock.

His roommate came with an entourage of family and a car filled with belongings.

My friend Dave (not his real name) remembers the moment well. The roommate with all the stuff. And the roommate’s dad who surveyed the dorm room, then locked eyes on that alarm clock.

“Nice clock,” he complimented Dave, who, decades later, laughs about the comment.

My friend’s story pops into my mind as I consider my 19-year-old son’s departure early this morning for Medford, Massachusetts (near Boston), where he’s accepted transfer student admittance to Tufts University.

Will he feel like Dave, the odd man out, arriving via plane with two suitcases, a carry-on bag and his pillow?

The son poses after packing his belongings in his NDSU dorm room in May.

The son poses for a photo after packing his belongings in his North Dakota State University dorm room in May.

After minimal discussion, our family decided that, given the price of gas, food and lodging, it would not be cost effective for us to pack the son’s stuff into our van and drive east 1,400 miles to Medford and then back next spring.

I won’t miss the moving in and out of dorms that I expected would be a part of our lives for the next several years. My husband and I have done that already with our daughters, long graduated from college.

Only ?? miles to Fargo. We've already driven

On the road to Fargo.

And I definitely won’t miss the long road trips along Interstate 94 to Fargo, where our youngest attended North Dakota State University for a year, or the worry about blizzards and closed interstates.

But I will miss seeing my son settled in and the ability to visualize him in his dorm room or anywhere on the Tufts campus. There is a certain sense of security for a mother in both.

Yet, this is not about me. This is about my son, his education, his need to feel challenged, his happiness and his future. The opportunity to attend a noted and respected research university like Tufts, which offers admission to only 50 – 100 transfer student applicants per year, is huge.

The debt load that our boy will bear, however, also will be huge (compared to NDSU), even with a substantial and outstanding financial aid package. Without that needs-based funding, he couldn’t attend Tufts; we are grateful. Still, I worry about how he/we will come up with our expected family contribution toward his education. The annual cost to attend Tufts exceeds our family’s annual gross income.

My youngest brother, a successful Twin Cities attorney, tells me not to worry, that my computer engineering major son will earn good money upon graduation. I expect he’s right. Already the 19-year-old’s base hourly wage at a summer internship was higher than his dad’s base wage after more than 30 years as an automotive machinist. And everything I’ve read points to continued demand for computer engineers in jobs that pay well.

While at NDSU, my son worked and volunteered in the Technology Incubator as part of an Entrepreneurial Scholarship. He is walking away from two major scholarships at NDSU to attend Tufts University.

While at NDSU, my son worked and volunteered in the Technology Incubator as part of an Entrepreneurial Scholarship. He is walking away from two major scholarships at NDSU to attend Tufts University. This summer he lived in Rochester and worked for IBM. His work experience at both places have been great opportunities to grow and learn and build connections for his future.

If anything, I know my son is driven to learn and succeed. He’s already proven that via his academic, computer programming and gaming successes, and his experiences working for two technology companies and more.

But, still, he’s only 19 and my boy, setting off alone for Boston with his bags. And an alarm clock in his smart phone.

© Copyright 2013 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


21 Responses to “Packing his bags for Boston”

  1. treadlemusic Says:

    And “an alarm clock in his smart phone”……says it all!!! A different day it is. The challenges out there for him, well, trying to imagine them would put fear in the heart of any Mom!! It’s a different world in so many ways. We have “coping skills” we (must) develop to keep up, whereas, this is, truly, THEIR world…..a “norm” for them!!! Hang on, dear Friend, we’re here for ya!!!!! (“I will never leave you or forsake you”. Spoken by our 24/7 Father)…..hugs…

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      Doreen, as always, my deepest thanks for your encouraging words and friendship. Drop-off at the airport at 4 a.m. today went well. No tears from me. Probably too tired for those as I’ve been awake since 2 a.m. Now I await word on his safe arrival in Boston.

      “I will never leave you or forsake you…” Excellent reminder. Thank you.

  2. Wishing your son the best and he is certainly opening his world a little bigger at a time!!!

  3. Beth Ann Says:

    I feel sure that Caleb is going to be just fine and dandy! You have raised him well and given him a good platform to launch off of. It is hard on the momma, though, to not be able to have the visual of seeing him get settled in but he will be fine I am sure. I totally get the concern about the money—when I think of what Micah will have to repay after 2 years at Columbia my heart about stops but like Caleb, he is in a good field with great potential. Thinking of you especially today and keeping you covered in prayer!

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      Thank you, Beth Ann, sister of my heart.

      Update: Caleb is at Tufts, has eaten lunch and met his roommate. Now I feel much better, knowing he arrived and is settling in.

  4. Deb Says:

    It will be fine. Somehow we always rise to the occasion and it works out. We had 3 in college at once and never thought we could do the financial piece, it looked overwhelming. We got it done and now we have 3 well-educated, successful young people making their way in this crazy world.
    Will keep you in thoughts and prayers as you venture into this phase of life.
    *As a side note, if you get the chance to visit, please do. Boston and the area around it are inspiring. I would love to see posts and photography from you as you see it. My daughter lives there and we have been several times. My husband says that if he could find a job with no car commute, we would move. We have always used the trains and the bus to get anywhere we wanted to go, even Salem and to Rhode Island.

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      You offer some wonderful advice, Deb. Thank you for that and for your prayers. We had two in college at once and I thought that was a lot. But they made it; we made it.

      I expect sometime in the future a trip to Boston will be in the plans. And be assured that my camera will be tucked aside my hip.

  5. Jackie Says:

    Glad to hear that Caleb has arrived safely and already chumming around with his roommate, that makes his mama’s heart happy I’m sure. I’m sure Caleb will have a wonderful year, I have a feeling this is gonna be a good fit for him. He is certainly spreading his wings, you and Randy have raised that boy well, keep us updated, I’ll keep him in my prayers.

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      Thank you, Jackie. The love and support I’ve gotten today are incredible. I am grateful.

  6. Good luck, Caleb and you!
    Emily just called me asking if she had gotten “paperwork regarding her student loan payback”!
    Will Caleb fly back for the wedding next month?

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      Thank you, Stacey. Student loan payback, not a fun thought.

      Yes, Caleb will be home for his sister’s wedding. He’s an usher. Then he’ll cart his winter coat and other stuff back, maybe even his unicycle if he can check it as one of two check-in “bags.”

  7. Ah, I can’t imagine how you feel. I mean, I can kinda…but not until I’m at that stage can I really! Praying for you!!!

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      It’s best if I don’t think about the 1,400 mile distance.

      I also remind myself that I made it through my second daughter’s three separate stays in Argentina, one of them something like seven or eight months long.

  8. Congratulations! What a wonderful/scary time for your family. Tufts is a great university and all my friends who have graduated from there (all with heavy debt) have had fantastic careers thus far. 🙂

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      This is great to hear, although not the “heavy debt” part. His needs-based financial aid package this year is the only way Tufts would be remotely affordable. We are grateful.

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