A different road to a degree
Aug 24, 2011 (Times Union - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
Two local colleges have joined together to create the first bachelor's degree program for autistic students.
On Tuesday, The Sage Colleges and Excelsior College unveiled the Sage Achieve degree, an online program that caters to students on the autism spectrum.
The program is highly flexible and can be customized to meet a student's particular disabilities, but it is as rigorous as any other degree, Sage President Susan Scrimshaw said.
It includes one-on-one mentoring and will lead to a bachelor's degree in liberal studies with a full 120 credits and an emphasis in computer science.
"We understand there are many ways to learn, and that the path to learning is not always linear," Scrimshaw said. The program "asks 'what do you need?' not 'why can't you fit in?'"
Excelsior developed the online component of the program and Sage professor Dana Reinecke created the curriculum.
Starting in January, the year-round program will feature six eight-week terms. Students will focus on one or two topics each term, and they communicate with professors by phone, Skype and email.
Reinecke said the emphasis will be on critical thinking and analysis, as well as writing and reading. She said the program will draw students from all over the world who previously had few options and serve those who may not be able to thrive in a traditional college classroom.
Lessons will be available by video, audio and text to meet the needs of students in the format that works best for them. Students will continue their courses throughout the summer months. The goal is to equip students with the skills that can help them land jobs or go on to graduate school.
Tuition for the first two years is about $27,000. When the course load doubles in the third and fourth year, it will rise to $43,000.
State Sen. Roy McDonald, R-Saratoga, who has two autistic grandchildren, said the program gives people the opportunity to dream about a different future. He said the nation is measured by what it does to help people with mental issues.
"It's our mission to make them responsible, productive people with self-esteem who can find their value in America," he said.
Reach Scott Waldman at 454-5080 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him at www.Twitter.com/518Schools.
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