Higher education

A young person of restricted growth who does well at school and shows an inclination towards higher education should be encouraged. Not only will a qualification of some sort provide a useful basis for a career; the opportunity to spend two or three years free from most responsibility other than to learn, among young people of similar interests and varied backgrounds, provides a useful halfway house between the security of home and the competitive world outside.

Making a choice

The choice of TAFE or university should be based on much the same criteria as for anybody else. The young person in question might wish to go to the institution with the best course in a particular subject, or to be taught by a particular professor. However, it is wise to take account of the layout of the place, the accomodation and the transport facilities. A student of restricted growth may find personal transport an asset but it need not be essential, and in some places a car might be a nuisance.

Application and Enrolment

Many of these questions should be investigated before a would-be student applies for admittance to an educational institution. Other points can be raised at the interview. If practical work, for example in a laboratory or workshop is contemplated, the question can be discussed at this stage. It is obviously not wise to give an impression of weakness or ineptitude, but the interviewer may well wonder whether a very small student could cope with all the necessary machinery or apparatus and an honest discussion of the situation is advisable.

Similarly, a would-be teacher of restricted growth, applying for a place at a training college, may have to work hard to convince an interviewer that it is possible to control a class without the authority vested in height. The same might apply to a young person of restricted growth wanting to study social work or business administration. In such cases it helps to remember that all teachers and social workers do not have to deal with rowdy delinquents: there are aspects of both professions that can be done as easily by a small person as by a tall person.

On the other hand, if serious doubts arise and a student is convinced that the wrong course has been chosen, there is no shame in changing to another, even if that means applying and being interviewed all over again. All students and academics know that there are many good reasons why courses are switched. Provided the pros and cons are discussed thoroughly, the change is likely to be for the best, in spite of the extra work it often brings.

Student life

As at school, a student of restricted growth probably makes the most of university or college life by joining societies and participating in communal activities. Public speaking, serving on committees or standing for an elected office, if the opportunity arises, will all help to establish self respect and status within the student community, as well as being a preparation for later life.

(Source: Information Guide to Persons of Short Stature, edited by Stephen Pinnell, p. 13)

© 2014 SSPA.