my son is about to be rejected from college -- long

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ComplexMom
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22 Mar 2022, 3:13 pm

We didn't get the rejection letter in the mail yet but they did reply to my request to know what issues he has that they can't support. Here is their reply:

these are the criteria he is not meeting at this time:
Academically motivated - eagerness to continue learning in a college classroom setting -
​*only in preferred subjects of special interest, *concerns about class participation that he may not see as beneficial or up to his level of intellect, *concerns about expectations that educators need to provide specialized support relating to his diagnosis to help him achieve success in the classroom
Demonstrates acceptable social behavior and emotional stability/maturity; no history of disruptive or challenging behaviors - ​*correcting/interrupting teachers, *meltdowns in academic and social settings, *inflexibility in all settings can lead to outbursts/sobbing, *difficulty accepting critique when not delivered in preferred manner
Functional daily living skills and eagerness to build upon independent living skills - ​*eating alone in separate setting due to noise level in cafeteria, *concerns about the ability to adapt to crowded hallways, classrooms, dining halls, residence halls, *concerns over ability to adapt to living with a roommate, i.e. trouble if roommate makes certain noises
Ability to independently recognize and react to emergency situations and personal safety - ​*noted that he will need support in these areas

IMHO, those are all ASD characteristics around which he needs support which is what they say their program does.



DW_a_mom
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22 Mar 2022, 6:36 pm

ComplexMom wrote:

IMHO, those are all ASD characteristics around which he needs support which is what they say their program does.



True, but there are levels. Since both my son and his girlfriend are ASD, I have witnessed just how profoundly some of the differences can affect the university experience. I don't think any one missing skill is their deal killer (assuming your instinct is correct); probably more that there are so many. Support services tend to like having a small list of deliverables to tackle, not one that is too long to efficiently prioritize. You might ask them which, specifically, they consider the largest deal killer and then work with your son on that one, first. There are still many skills on that list that I do think you have the ability to help your son with. Learning how to watch his own stress levels so he diverts into mitigation activities before he ends up in a confrontation or melt-down. Getting comfortable having productive exchanges with people in authority. Etc.

Most likely what your son needs is just TIME, so he can be ready for the level of support they feel they offer.


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Last edited by DW_a_mom on 22 Mar 2022, 7:05 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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22 Mar 2022, 7:02 pm

ComplexMom wrote:
haha..that's funny to point out that I'm the rigid one, but there is truth to that. I am doing a lot of black and white thinking here....if he doesn't go to college "the way I did" he will never have a successful life (whatever that means). This might be a holdover from the expectations to which my parents held me. I'm going to have to tease that out a bit. He is such a smart interesting kid who can go deep into his topics of interest and has some really creative thought processes. I'm afraid all of that will get stuffed away if I don't step in a draw it out and that I'll miss the perfect opportunity to get that started for him.

I so want people to see him, understand him and value him for who he is. I think his autism makes that really difficult and if I don't help him demonstrate who he is, he will be ignored and/or overlooked and/or forgotten and left to deteriorate. I keep hearing my mom's voice saying "No child of mine is going to sit inside and watch videos all day! Get out there and do something with yourself!"


I can't even begin to tell you how much I relate to these paragraphs.

For the first, society is seriously doing a number on parents in our demographic. I was TERRIFIED for my kid's futures, and try as I might to tell them it would all be OK if they took varying roads, they both were well aware of my complete emotional tie up in the standard expectations. The pressure they felt because of the pressure *I* felt was intense. And entirely counterproductive, as they have had zero problem pointing out to me now that we're down the road and past it. That you are starting to become aware of the problem is a good thing. Whatever it takes to break free, do it.

I've used the exact same words about my son: "I want people to see him, understand him, and value him for who he is." We've been lucky that at different phases of his life my son has found people who do just that. I still have no idea how the one higher tier university saw it but they did and I cannot be grateful enough. I do trust that someone will see it with your son, but remember that us parents don't have the power to force any specific people to do so. Cover your bases, have more options. Throw hail mary passes. Plant seeds. See what comes back. Have trust that the best fit for your son will see his gifts without you having to force them to.

The largest difference in how I went about college admissions for my son and what you've done is that I didn't find a "best" choice and then work to make that best choice happen. I had caught enough messaging from my peers to know I had to roll more than one dice. We rolled 6, including one overseas (which was, to be honest, so much easier - in that country it was just a checklist. Meet the checklist, you're in). Youth change so rapidly at that age that our plan was to see where he got in, and decide after that whether or not he could handle it. By the time we had our final choices, he was more ready than when we started the process.

Be warned, you will hit this roadblock again, most likely with job interviews. I recommend getting used to a process of covering your bases, planting seeds, throwing random passes. When the right opportunity comes back to him, you'll both know it. It took my son 2.5 years to land an acceptable career job. He did work during that time (tutoring), but he was stressing out about the inability to live off it. The rejection in these transitions is easier when you're ready for it, and accept it as part of the process. PATIENCE.


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DW_a_mom
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22 Mar 2022, 7:11 pm

Ettina wrote:
I didn't need to do an interview to go to university. Is that a US thing? When I signed up, I just submitted my papers, paid the entrance fee, and I was in.


Here in the US it varies quite a lot. Some schools have interviews for all admission candidates. Some schools have single departments that want interviews. Some don't require any at all.

Right now the admissions environment for freshmen in the US is hyper-competitive, and spiraling. Each year high school students file more applications to increase their odds, but the flip side is that schools are getting record numbers of applications, and have to accept lower and lower percentages of them to stay within their capacity for enrollment. As acceptance percentages dwindle, students are driven to file even more applications. And, so, it just keeps spiraling.


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22 Mar 2022, 10:12 pm

DW_a_mom wrote:
...Be warned, you will hit this roadblock again, most likely with job interviews. I recommend getting used to a process of covering your bases, planting seeds, throwing random passes. When the right opportunity comes back to him, you'll both know it. It took my son 2.5 years to land an acceptable career job. He did work during that time (tutoring), but he was stressing out about the inability to live off it. The rejection in these transitions is easier when you're ready for it, and accept it as part of the process. PATIENCE.

Only 2.5 years? I am so jelly!! !! !! !! !! !! !! !! :D

It took me 4 years and it took my ASD BFF near 10 years to leave low-level positions and start our careers. We are now both experts in our fields. To your point, patience.



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23 Mar 2022, 4:35 pm

Complex: I'm 61 years old.

Only my mother is still alive; my father passed away in 2018 at age 86.

If you REALLY wanted to, you could actually talk to my mother.

My point in writing my previous post----was that I became somewhat successful, even though I didn't graduate college "on time."

In fact, as I stated previously, I waited until age 36 to "go back to school." Till age 37 to get my driver's license.

I "grew up" considerably in my 30s, even though I was able to live independently in my 20s (though I accrued lots of debt in my 20s).



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23 Mar 2022, 4:48 pm

The only requirement to get into a US community college is either a high school diploma, or a GED.

Community colleges are two-year schools, and their "terminal degree" is the Associates.

Community college credits count the same as "regular" college credits----though in transferring to a "regular college" from a "community college," the "regular college" might not take all the student's "community college" credits.



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23 Mar 2022, 7:40 pm

kraftie, I'm glad you kept at it. I have two work colleagues who went to college in their 30s. Both are professionals now. One in particular stands out as ND.

kraftiekortie wrote:
Community colleges are two-year schools, and their "terminal degree" is the Associates.

LOL. I don't recall that when my husband transferred from the community college to private college. I suppose in my mind community college was a four-year program since that's how long it was going to take him. I don't recall how many credits transferred, but it was enough.



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27 Apr 2022, 11:26 pm

ComplexMom wrote:
We didn't get the rejection letter in the mail yet but they did reply to my request to know what issues he has that they can't support. Here is their reply:

these are the criteria he is not meeting at this time:
Academically motivated - eagerness to continue learning in a college classroom setting -
​*only in preferred subjects of special interest, *concerns about class participation that he may not see as beneficial or up to his level of intellect, *concerns about expectations that educators need to provide specialized support relating to his diagnosis to help him achieve success in the classroom
Demonstrates acceptable social behavior and emotional stability/maturity; no history of disruptive or challenging behaviors - ​*correcting/interrupting teachers, *meltdowns in academic and social settings, *inflexibility in all settings can lead to outbursts/sobbing, *difficulty accepting critique when not delivered in preferred manner
Functional daily living skills and eagerness to build upon independent living skills - ​*eating alone in separate setting due to noise level in cafeteria, *concerns about the ability to adapt to crowded hallways, classrooms, dining halls, residence halls, *concerns over ability to adapt to living with a roommate, i.e. trouble if roommate makes certain noises
Ability to independently recognize and react to emergency situations and personal safety - ​*noted that he will need support in these areas

IMHO, those are all ASD characteristics around which he needs support which is what they say their program does.

First of all, your son is lucky to have you.

I am wondering how he feels about his ability to meet the criteria in this list. There's a lot there and my concern wouldn't be whether he can get in, but whether he's ready. I started my academic journey at a community college and achieved very little there because I wasn't ready. Getting ready, for me, involved moving on my own at 19 to another country, finding a job, and maturing a bit more socially. After a year of that, I enrolled in a modern languages honours degree program where my interviews carried the most weight. That degree carried me for 15 years and by the time I went back to school standardized test scores and letters of recommendation were really all that mattered.

If I were 18 again, the only thing I'd do differently would probably be to consider a school where I could test out of as many credits as possible. This might be worth thinking about if your son is like me, comfortable teaching himself. Thomas Edison State (State School), Charter Oaks, and Excelsior accept more test credits than any others. They also offer a wide variety of majors, though for many majors it would only be possible to test out of the core requirements and electives (at least 60 of 120). This would certainly take the pressure off and give space to mature a bit (outside of an academic setting) without losing time - not doing well at community school felt like a huge failure at the time.


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28 Apr 2022, 8:34 pm

online school

trade school

telecommute job

there is something wrong with everything.

plenty of people do not *self actualize*, especially autistics. however, there is an entire world between *self actualization* and *no job at all*.

there is something wrong with everything.

people change personalities.

people change jobs.

try asking the Regional Center what kind of resources they have for getting autistic clients jobs.



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28 Apr 2022, 8:47 pm

In Australia there are multiple pathways into college. getting rejected the first time is hardly anything for you or your son to lose sleep over.

I have tutored plenty of highschool and university students who failed the first time (one even three times). If your son has the aptitude then don't make think the clock is ticking and time is running out. He's 18, a lot of 18 year olds take a gap year to sort out their life and often after working come back and study too.

18 is really young, When I was that age I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life.



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30 Apr 2022, 8:03 am

ComplexMom wrote:
We didn't get the rejection letter in the mail yet but they did reply to my request to know what issues he has that they can't support. Here is their reply:

these are the criteria he is not meeting at this time:
Academically motivated - eagerness to continue learning in a college classroom setting -
​*only in preferred subjects of special interest, *concerns about class participation that he may not see as beneficial or up to his level of intellect, *concerns about expectations that educators need to provide specialized support relating to his diagnosis to help him achieve success in the classroom


This sounds like he's studying the wrong subjects. One of the best things about university, in my experience, is the ability to tailor your academic program to your interests. If he's picked the right major and electives, he should rarely be in this situation because 90% of his courses should be focused on his special interests.

ComplexMom wrote:
Demonstrates acceptable social behavior and emotional stability/maturity; no history of disruptive or challenging behaviors - ​*correcting/interrupting teachers, *meltdowns in academic and social settings, *inflexibility in all settings can lead to outbursts/sobbing, *difficulty accepting critique when not delivered in preferred manner


This is hard to interpret without more specific examples, but my guess is that the problem here is one or both of the following:

a) Your son may have poor emotionally regulation skills. High stress levels worsen this issue, so limiting stress to a manageable level is important - for example, a reduced course load, avoiding sources of overload, and organizing life such that he's only dealing with one big hard growing experience at a time instead of several at once. (Eg if he's living in dorms for the first time, now is not the time for also taking a required course he's going to find really difficult and unpleasant.) Emotional regulation skills can also be trained directly using mindfulness meditation practice - I've found that regularly meditating greatly improved my baseline level of self-regulation, even after I lapsed on my practice.

b) They could be mistreating him and blaming him for a reasonable response to such treatment. The line about "difficulty accepting critique" is especially raising warning flags, because a lot of bullies like to pretend they're offering critique when they're actually trying to be hurtful. I'd definitely ask for examples of this, and get your son's side of the story, so you can evaluate whether or not this "critique" could actually reasonably be expected to be helpful.

ComplexMom wrote:
Functional daily living skills and eagerness to build upon independent living skills - ​*eating alone in separate setting due to noise level in cafeteria, *concerns about the ability to adapt to crowded hallways, classrooms, dining halls, residence halls, *concerns over ability to adapt to living with a roommate, i.e. trouble if roommate makes certain noises


Why do they care if he's eating alone? It's weird that a college would notice or care where a student chooses to eat, unless they're eating in places where food is likely to damage stuff (eg library, computer lab, etc). It sounds infantilizing and overcontrolling to dictate one and only one place that adults are expected to eat in. Certainly not something that makes sense under the rubric of "independent living skills" because they're actively trying to restrict his independence by dictating where he eats.

As for the roommate issue, he should be allowed to have a room alone. If that's not available on campus, either staying with you or renting a place within easy commute are appropriate alternatives. Not everyone is suited to sharing a living space with a total stranger, and that's not something that needs fixing.

The only one I can see as genuinely unavoidable sometimes is crowds, but their list sounds like it includes pretty much everywhere but the library! It's not reasonable to expect an autistic person to be able to function when exposed to crowds for most of the day every single day. The fact that they're including residence halls in this list is especially concerning, because that means their living situation is such that he probably won't be able to get adequate sleep. This is the most important context where he should have access to silence and solitude - in the place he's expected to rest in.

In general, they should not be arbitrarily demanding he stay in a noisy location when a quieter location would meet his needs better. He should have a quiet, solo place to sleep, and he shouldn't be required to eat in a specific, noisy location. If they can't offer him such basic accommodations, I can guarantee you that there are far better colleges for him to attend instead.

ComplexMom wrote:
Ability to independently recognize and react to emergency situations and personal safety - ​*noted that he will need support in these areas

IMHO, those are all ASD characteristics around which he needs support which is what they say their program does.


Oh, dear. This is a program that supposedly supports autistic people? No wonder they're so terrible. Unfortunate life lesson: most programs for autism are significantly less suited to actual autistic people's needs than a general disability program or the general publicly-available equivalent. ABA mentality has infected so many autism programs to the point where they're about as useful to autistic people as "pray the gay away" camps are to LGBTQ people. I'd avoid stuff advertised specifically for autism as much as possible.

I'd honestly recommend sending him to a regular college and just registering him with their disabled students' services, and seeing how he does. It sounds like they'd probably be a lot more autism-friendly than this "autism program".



ComplexMom
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03 May 2022, 10:03 am

Gosh, thanks so much for all these replies that I've missed in the last few weeks. We did get the rejection letter on April 1st and my son immediately opened it up and asked what does "college readiness" mean? That was the reason they gave in the letter for not accepting him. He said he was a little disappointed and then said "What am I going to do all year?" I told him that together we'd figure it out.

I'm still panicked about it and am looking at my reaction to try and right-size it.

We have attended a college fair at his school together and there was a school for "different learners" that offered a degree in Anthrozoology and his eyes lit up at that.

I have attended as many webinars as I can that have colleges that present what they offer for kids like ours. There is a program at Westfield State U in MA that has a program with lots of added support. However, they don't offer as wide a variety of subjects to study.

I have spoken with CIP, they have a location on the Berkshires that is basically all pre-college readiness and independent living skills. He doesn't even have to take a college class the first semester he is there. They will help him adjust to living in an apartment, managing suitemates, social pragmatics, grocery shopping etc. and THEN once he's comfortable with that, he can start with one class at a community college nearby and they can assist him academically. The downside there is that it's very expensive and don't offer financial aid.

He attended an all day pre-college intro workshop just last weekend where they talked about the differences between college and high school, they visited a college campus, looked at dorms, classrooms and ate in the dining hall. I haven't gotten the full report from the staff as to how it went, but my son said he was happy they had donuts as snacks and he liked the alumnae who worked in a video game studio. I asked my son what questions he asked (my son, not the alumnae) and he said he asked "how much longer is this?" a bunch of times and did he have to pay for the food. lol

He and I did have a conversation about whether he was depressed or not and he said "You know I am, mom." He is on a low dose of prozac and has been for years, but I also have an appointment with his Dr to see if an increase in meds might be helpful.

I do think he may not be mature enough for college yet. We have been given the gift of this year to see what he is capable of and what he wants. We have an appointment with NESCA for an transition assessment in the next few weeks and I hope they can tell me what areas are most important to focus on during this next year.

I am grateful for this community!



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04 May 2022, 6:44 pm

ComplexMom wrote:
I do think he may not be mature enough for college yet. We have been given the gift of this year to see what he is capable of and what he wants. We have an appointment with NESCA for an transition assessment in the next few weeks and I hope they can tell me what areas are most important to focus on during this next year.


I am glad you've reached a point of understanding the time will be a gift. I hope both of you will use it wisely and hopefully get some special time together, as well. So many cool things you could do! I do believe that life usually ends up going the way it needs to go. Not to say one can let go and coast ... we know that doesn't work. But not all that appears to be a setback actually is a setback.


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19 May 2022, 2:56 am

ComplexMom,

Here is my question to you. If there are a set of social norms and standards that we all must adhere to (...eye contact) without any kind of vote or question then why are we in the USA told to be ourselves, be true to ourselves and not care what anyone things?

America claims itself to be this individualistic society yet demands absolute conformity in differing ways. And, it seems to me that success in employment in the USA just like anywhere else is one has to compromise (you do all the compromising. there is no true negotiation table), capitulate and conform.

Why does it have such inconsistent and contradictory standards?



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19 May 2022, 4:21 am

Something I want to also add to this is that in a way I have had a raw deal out of the education system, and this is because of factors beyond my control or some of the teachers control. It means that my qualifications never really reflected my abilities or my intelligence though in some ways they did but in other ways they didn't at all depending on the subject exam taken and the result I had in that exam.

Here in the UK further education beyond the age of 18 was denied me because my parents did not have the money and the state only supports one to that age, though to be honest, my life has always been a case of not being in the criteria of being a special case where I would have help, but not having the ability to help myself either, either due to a lack of financial support or due to other reasons. If anything I grew up in an enviroment that if my parents had taken the easy way in life and would have had a council house and settled back and done virtually nothing like some we know have done, they would have been financially better off and we as children would have been entitled to many things that the "Vunerable" children whose parents had to rely on state help had. They had the latest and most expensive of all the toys and were always ahead of the latest fashions. My parents simply could not afford this as we may have been property rich (Parents decided against all odds that they would not go down the council house route that was expected of them and they had mortgage after mortgage with help of one will back in the mid 1970's to get to where we are now, but even now my Mum is not as well off financially now she has retired compared to someone in her position who never worked because she has a small private pension after my Dad (A third pension as my Dad died) which almost in its entirity goes in tax (It was taxed when my Dad paid into it and now taxed again!) and so she has state support but she is not entitled to most of the things that people on state pensions can get, and yet her income is actually state supported (Which my Dad also paid 30 years into the system for only for the government to "Move the goalposts" last minute... )
But what I am saying is that we have always been blessed in where we live but financially speaking (In general. There have been good times as well) worse off for it.
But what I am saying here is that despite all hardships and how it had been made impossible for me either due to my own limitations (I don't do so well in a collage enviroment) or due to circumstances for me to have had the qualification level to match my intelligence.
So instead I had to work myself up job at a time through a great many years of hard work with exceptionally low wages and I eventually (For a while until I crashed) made it in a job that it was possible for me to support a family (Never did get a family but I was told to start with a wife but never married as wives can't be bought in shops) and get a mortgage on a house. I did get a mortgage and had a house for a while but when I burnt out I had left the job as I could not continue and hit burnout after burnout after burnout (May have been breakdowns?) so I had to give up the house and give up on several other luxuries and I ended up being almost back to square one but in a way worse off as now I can't work to step myself back up... (I am improving and have improved compared to the mess I was in and now I am getting state help which I am very greatful for as I would not have survived if it did not have it when I had it).

But what I am saying is that if someone has been in a situation where educationally one has not been able to achieve, it is not the only way to success. Here in the UK many of our most successful people in business have poor qualifications and made it entirely on their own through sheer hard work and guts and those people I have to say are amazing!

What I want to say is that if he never achieves the grades it is not the end. It is the beginning! Life is still an adventure to behold! While we are alive and have a mind to think with and our hands and legs to work with (Or even just with whatever we have) we can have success if we try.
What I am doing now is writing online. This is amazing in itself as some people can't do that. (Ok, I maybe limited to what I can do online but look! Typing words that make sense and encourage others! It is amzing!)
One can write a book and one could end up with a writing career, or one can do all sorts of things if one has the determination to overcome.

The thing is that one needs to find ways that create enviroments in which one can thrive in. This is not always easy for some but it is certainly do-able with a little thought or a lot of thought and it being a longer term goal to work towards.

I have an idea and a plan which needs some future investment which may not make much money but could at least make some. Goals like this are needed as something to aim towards.

If one wants an education in itself that is the goal. It is good to set goals even if we end up in a different direction to the one we intended. It is good to aim towards something. To have a vision.
"Without vision my people perish" is a Bible quote. We need vision, and then we slowly work towards it, and if we find hurdles we either go around or over them and if we find blocked doorways we change our vision and find a new one to aim towards.
If we have no vision we perish. As long as we have visions and goals and a means to get there we are happy!

Now for me education here in the UK is a pointless exercise unless one is guaranteed a good job after it or unless one is wealthy or has wealthy parents or sponsors etc as education puts one so far in debt that it is not an option for those of us who are in a position that would put themselves in a hostile enviroment if one achieved ones educational goals. (What I mean as hostile, in that supposing I ended up with masters degrees where the route to a decent job was to be a college lecturer and I made it... I would then be stuck in what to me would be a hostile enviroment to cope with. I have often been told I should go for a degree so I can teach but to me the end goal would not really be ideal. Not that I would not want to help others. Is more the classroom and school or college enviroment would not exactly be one I would be happy in and the teacher classroom politics would be one where I would end up eventually leaving the job in. So it is not the ideal route for me to take and I would not be able to pay back the loans. I would be trapped! I could certainly teach one to one involving one of my specialist subjects but this is not one which needs a degree.

Going back to what I am saying. Being realistic but aiming for more is a balance.

What I want to tell you though is that qualifications in themselves are meaningless bits of paper which do not mean anything unless one happens to come across someone who sees their value. Is like a dollar bill. Unless others have faith in its value it is meaningless and can lose its value just like that.
But what is worth more than gold is whatone has learned while in education and no matter if one passes or fails, if it spurs one on to find out more and one eventually becomes knowledgable in whatever subject one is interested in... That is priceless. The qualification itself is merely a piece of paper which only holds value to others while they have faith in it, and this faith can collapse or be found and there are no guarantees...
Gain a reputation in any subject and ones reputation for knowledge follows one wherever one goes, as this is by far more valuable a tool then anything else, even if one travels abroad and others have to do quick phonecalls to ask... Reputation pushes one forward but reputation has to be earned.

Sorry. I am typing too much.