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Majors and college programs for Aspergers

mdcisspmdcissp Posts: 2,494Registered User Senior Member
edited September 2010 in Parents Forum
We are looking into colleges for our son with Aspergers. He says he wants to be a business major and either own his own business or become an actuary. His interests are in Economics and Government. With the weak economy, a preference for solitude, yet intelligent mind in his areas of interest, can anyone offer the benefit of experience or suggestions for college programs/majors in these areas? To date, top choice is becoming a Business major at Towson University. Thanks so much.
Post edited by mdcissp on
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Replies to: Majors and college programs for Aspergers

  • Erin's DadErin's Dad Posts: 17,990Super Moderator Senior Member
    I would recommend he look more at math/statistics. It's a very flexible degree and can be used in most industries, and probably will have less interface in the client market than business would. I would also recommend looking at LACs for more individual support for students, though that would also depend on the degree of Aspergers.
  • HImomHImom Posts: 17,697Registered User Senior Member
    It is said that engineering has MANY folks with Aspergers. As a caveat, engineers often have to do group work (at least in college & not sure about beyond that). How does your S do with that? I know two relatives who are actuaries. They are well paid and appear to enjoy their jobs.

    I agree that a lot depends on the degree of Aspergers. Has your child received any evaluation regarding different vocations that might be suitable?
  • scansmomscansmom Posts: 1,543Registered User Senior Member
    This is a list of careers for individuals with autism/Asperger's suggested by Temple Grandin, what I like about this is that it focuses on looking at how Aspies process information in addition to their interests:
    Types of Minds - I have observed that there are three basic types of specialized minds on the autism spectrum.
    Visual Thinker - This is my type. I think in photo realistic pictures like Google for images. Algebra was impossible for me. Unfortunately I was never allowed to try geometry or trig. This was a big mistake. Some individuals who cannot do algebra can do geometry. Visual thinkers are good at the following occupations:
    Artist and Graphic Design
    Industrial Design
    Architecture
    Auto Mechanics
    Drafting
    Photography
    Animal Trainer
    Pattern Thinkers - These are the individuals who are often good at math and music. Reading may be their area of weakness. Pattern thinking is a more abstract form of visual thinking. They think in patterns instead of pictures. Some good occupations for pattern thinkers are:
    Scientific Researcher
    Statistics - data mining
    Engineering
    Music
    Mathematics
    Computer Programming
    Chemistry
    Word Fact Thinkers - These are the individuals who know all the facts about their favorite things such as movie stars or baseball players. History is often a favorite subject. They are NOT visual thinkers and they are often poor in art. The following careers would be good choices:
    Journalist - Blogger
    Librarian
    Record Keeping Jobs
    Special Education Teacher
    Bookkeeping
    Speech Therapist

    Transition to Employment and Independent Living for Individuals with Autism and Aspergers

    Her book, Developing Talents, goes a little further into exploring and selecting careers for those on the spectrum based on one's talents and abilities as well as how they process information (they are not all engineering types!). The insights I obtained from this and other books/articles on Asperger's and employment have been very helpful to me in guiding S by helping him to look more at the long-term picture when we were choosing a college and major, not just in what careers and majors he was considering, but also his strengths and weaknesses. For instance, S is currently studying Chemical Engineering and he really debated whether he should go into something like engineering technology rather than engineering because he did not think he had the imagination or creativity to "design" things, but was very confident that he could succeed as something like a technician, where the work was perhaps more routine and the social expectations might not be as great.


    Here is another site with career suggestions. Accounting, actuarial, statistics - yes. Business, economics, political science/other social studies - perhaps not (although, depending on his abilities and personality, he could surprise everyone!!)

    Choosing the Right Career (Sonya Ansari Center For Autism)

    Good luck to you and your S!!
  • Cardinal FangCardinal Fang Posts: 8,118Registered User Senior Member
    Academic economics reputedly has a high percentage of Aspies.
  • starbrightstarbright Posts: 4,660Registered User Senior Member
    I'm a business school professor and want to share a few things that might be useful. One, the vast majority of undergraduate programs are not geared toward teaching students to run their own businesses (with a few exceptions, such as those programs focused on entrepreneurship). If he is looking at his own business, he might want to seek out a particular program. And I would keep in mind that it is hard to think of a successful small business that did not depend significant on sales and selling of one kind or another. Second, the undergrad curriculum usually involves a disproportionate amount of group work and social interaction compared to other majors. As a comparison point, where undergrads in science spend a lot of extra time on labs each week..students in business school spend a lot of extra time in getting group projects done and so much depends on social interaction.
  • Mom24boysMom24boys Posts: 458Registered User Member
    If your looking at Towson, I'm guessing you know they have an adult Asperger's support group. You might want to also look at UMBC and HCCC has a College Fair March 6 for kids with disabilities (they'll have some 4 year schools attending). I think Marshall in WV has the oldest AS Support Program.
  • frazzled2thecorefrazzled2thecore Posts: 769Registered User Member
    There is a program in Pittsburgh run by Carol Komich-Hare that provides mentoring support to college students from any of the area colleges, including Carnegie-Mellon and UPitt.
  • mdcisspmdcissp Posts: 2,494Registered User Senior Member
    Thank you so much for your wonderful, insightful and useful information that will change how we look at programs. My son is great at facts, reads in depth for lots of information and loves economics. He is social 1:1, thrives in a quiet environment where the rules are structured and routine. He is average in Math. At Towson, accounting is under the business school program. Can a person average in Math be successful at accounting, or do you need to be briliant at Math? Is it better to be an Economics major? What jobs are there for Econ majors? What is involved to become an actuary? We looked at UMBC and my son did not like the commuter feel and lack of college town. College search also showed Univ. of Texas at Dallas to have an Actuary program but it means out of state tuition. I do not want to pay $50,000 a year for a private university. Many thanks again for all of your amazing help.
  • scansmomscansmom Posts: 1,543Registered User Senior Member
    although I cannot recommend specific schools or programs for the areas your S is interested in, here is a link to the Sloan Career Cornerstone site that we discovered a few years ago when looking for schools for S; it has a lot of information about several different fields including Mathematics (math/actuary/statistics) as well as lists of schools that offer programs in each field

    Sloan Career Cornerstone Center: Careers in Science, Technology, Engineering, Math & Healthcare
  • QwertyKeyQwertyKey Posts: 4,590Registered User Senior Member
    Actuary is supposed to be the "best" job (it was ranked at the best on some ranking). I don't know about everywhere, but at UMich Actuarial Science is part of the Math dept (and I would imagine it would be everywhere else too). If that's something that he's interested and has a strong aptitude for math, that's a great job.

    I think most business programs don't really teach entrepreneurship. If he wants to start a business I doubt he's much better off with a business degree than he would be with a math degree, plus a math degree probably leaves him more to fall back on, unless he'd be going to a top business school.
  • scansmomscansmom Posts: 1,543Registered User Senior Member
    Academic economics reputedly has a high percentage of Aspies.

    yes, including the 2002 Nobel Laureate in Economics, Vernon Smith!

    Mildest autism has 'selective advantages' - Business- msnbc.com
  • yabeyabe2yabeyabe2 Posts: 2,454Registered User Senior Member
    Several people have told me that American U is very supportive of students with disabilities. I also belive some small colleges will be very supportive and focused on helping every kid succeed.

    I would avoid schools emphasizing football and look for schools known for a diverse student body (Goucher, Carnegie Mellon) and being more intellectual than preppy (Swarthmore, Haverford). Best of luck.
  • HImomHImom Posts: 17,697Registered User Senior Member
    I too had thought that smaller schools would be more accommodating and work with the student & family to help each kid succeed. Unfortunately, I did NOT find this to be the case when I spoke with the one small U that admitted our S with a significant merit award. They were the very least accommodating and basically told us that if S's documented chronic health issues caused him to miss 2+ weeks of school, they'd likely require him to withdraw & lose his merit scholarship, housing & everything else. Needless to say, he declined their merit offer & attended a school known for great sports, including football. They were VERY willing to work with S to help him succeed, accomodating his health issues. Bottom line: talk with each school you & student are seriously considering to be sure your assumptions about their willingness and ability to accommodate are accurate.
  • busdriver11busdriver11 Posts: 7,278Registered User Senior Member
    Here is a list of some top schools for Aspergers, you may already know about this: Colleges for Students with Asperger's: The Very Friendly Ones | InsideCollege.com

    You really, really, really (if you have not done so already) need to check out Carnegie Mellon. Extremely aspie friendly, accepting of people with any kind of quirkiness. Top rated economics program, very bright students.
  • starbrightstarbright Posts: 4,660Registered User Senior Member
    He can easily do a business degree if he is just average in math. Did he get through calc okay? He might have to work at it, but it's not rocket science. An economics degree requires more math. Again probably doable if he works at it.
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