Feb 03, 2014 0 Share

Applying Yourself


Young man holding stack of files.
Thinkstock

This week Cameron and I are making our third campus visit. Hopefully it will be our last. It’s a tedious job, finding a postsecondary program. Have I mentioned that before? As if the travel wasn’t tedious enough, there are the applications to contend with as well. So much paperwork goes into the application. There’s the parent questionnaire, the recommendations, the copies of IEPs, student questionnaire, testing results—of which it seems each program has their own unique twist on the types of tests they require. And the recommendations are such a hassle. I hate inconveniencing Cameron’s boss and teachers over and over again! But each program Cameron has applied to requires two to three recommendations, and the forms are slightly different, and of course supposed to be completed without the parents or student seeing the responses, so there’s no reusing a recommendation for multiple programs. You have to inconvenience your reference folks multiple times, there’s just no way around it. And with so many parts coming from so many sources, it’s a challenge to keep up with it all! I inevitably end up giving away my original copy of Cameron’s current IEP, and must sheepishly ask Cameron’s school for another copy.

One of the components of the application that I am always biting my nails over is the student questionnaire. I am always conflicted over just how much support to give Cameron when it comes to completing these questionnaires. Spelling is not his strong suit, and I never know if I should proofread his responses and point out his mistakes, or just let him submit the questionnaire as is, in order to accurately reflect Cameron’s capabilities. For one questionnaire he completed, I asked him to use the spell checker in Word to verify the specific words he had misspelled. The problem is that often Cameron’s phonemic unawareness is so severe, spell-checking programs have no clue what his intentions might be. Mind you, he has made great strides in spelling and reading over the past few years, but anything language-related for Cameron is still a hurdle. I feel that it’s important that any program considering Cameron understand his challenges. I therefore try to remain hands-off when it comes to him completing the student questionnaires. Having worked in a postsecondary program, I am all too aware that parents often provide the bare minimum when it comes to information about their child, and leave it to staff to figure out the missing pieces after the student has gained admission to the program. I don’t want to be one of those parents. But then I wonder if admissions committees read applications with an eye towards assuming the picture being presented has been dressed up to impress them. If I leave Cameron’s questionnaire “unretouched” might the powers that be assume that his submission is a polished one? Would they then assume that Cameron is much lower-functioning than he is?

Sigh … I’ve just decided to present as clear of a picture of Cameron as possible. And that means not dotting every “t” and crossing every “i” for him, letting the letters land where they may.