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Jackie Burrell

A Bachelor's Degree for Autistic Students

By September 16, 2011

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The bustle of a college campus, the lecture hall environment and the challenges of living independently can make college a no-go for many kids on the autistic spectrum. Oh they get in, all right, but overwhelmingly, they drop out within the first year. Now New York's Sage Colleges is trying a different approach with an online bachelor's degree program - dubbed the Achieve Degree - designed specifically for students on the autistic spectrum. Very, very cool. The program, which begins Jan. 15, is a first for a four-year university. (Bellevue, a two-year college in Washington state, has a somewhat similar program.)

The degree, which has an emphasis on computer science, is not only geared to the particular challenges these kids face, but the very fact of working online lets autistic students "learn from their most comfortable environment, whether it's home, a library, a friend's house, a treatment center, their psychiatrist's office," Dana Reinecke, from Sage's department of applied behavior analysis, told reporters at Inside Higher Ed.

It's a pricey, year-round program, though:  freshman tuition will be $27,000, junior year is set at $43,000 and for some reason, they have not disclosed sophomore and senior year rates, other than to say there will be a "modest increase."

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