Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Student Success Spotlight: Meet Belinda Alvardo

photo of belinda alvardo with hair pulled back and arms crossed with rio and maricopa logos and text: Meed Belinda Alvardo

Belinda left high school in the late 1980's and came to Rio Salado to take classes to prepare for the GED® test. Belinda had a wonderful family and great business as a realtor. With the economic downturn, Belinda was faced with changing careers. 

She entered Rio Salado's IBEST Dental Assisting Program where she earned her GED®. Belinda then completed her Dental Assisting Certificate at Rio Salado. Congratulations Belinda!

Are you ready to start preparing for the GED® test?  Do you need help learning English as a second language or getting financial aid? Rio Salado is ready to help you get started on your educational journey-- and overcome the challenges of returning to school.

Get started now by visiting or calling 480-517-8110 to learn how we can help you achieve your educational goals.


4 Study Tips to Help You Ace Your Finals

young boy with a blackboard with scattered alphabet surrounded by books holding a book over his head with animated stress face

Stuck in a study rut with finals just around the corner? 

Whether you're a grade A student or struggling in your classes this semester, finals can be overwhelming. They can mean information overload, time crunches, and added stress. Learn how to maximize your study time with these easy tips provided by Rio Salado Counselor Elena Matus McDonald.

There are many new and alternative methods to studying. The key to applying effective study skills is to find what works for you.

snapshot of youtube video.  Image of a gameboy interface with text: 8 Advance Study Tips

Thomas Frank (2015) discusses eight innovative and thought-provoking studying techniques in this video

Here are four takeaways to keep in mind.

1) Ask yourself: what it is you do not understand?

First, it is important to be aware that when you do not understand something in a course you can become emotionally overwhelmed by your frustration. Given this, you may not be able to identify what you are confused about initially and that is okay. You may want to discuss your frustration with a friend, coworker, relative, mentor, or just someone you trust that will listen to you openly. Once you feel your frustration decrease this is a good time to attempt to pinpoint what you do not understand.

At this point, you can then ask your instructor for help and specify the content you are confused about. Typically in online courses as you are mainly communicating with your professor through email, so it is vital you clearly communicate the details you are uncertain about in a lesson, assignment, chapter, or any other related course materials.

2) Set short-term goals and reward yourself.

When you sit down to study, set a goal for that study session and then reward yourself once it is completed. For example, if you plan to study for an hour, specify what content, pages, and/or homework assignments you wish to complete within that time frame and only reward yourself when it is accomplished such as spending 20 minutes on social media, texting a friend, watching a TV show or movie, etc.

3) When you get distracted write down what the interruptions are.

If you are studying at home this is particularly important to take notes of what diverts your attention from your study session, when it occurs, and how often. You can then begin to identify a pattern and can reduce and/or eliminate these distractions in your next study session.

4) Replace traditional flashcards to memorize content by downloading the free software program called Anki.

Frank states that the free software program, Anki, uses a technique identified as space repetition. He notes that space repetition, involves the idea where concepts you know well will appear less often than concepts you do not know as comfortably. This way of learning to commit content to memory is more effective than studying the same flashcards over and over in varying orders.

Remember that all of the study tips discussed here, and in the video mentioned above, may not work for you, however, you will want to try a few to determine which study skills are the most beneficial for you. It may also be helpful to assess your study habits and what practices you may need to change to see better results in the future. 

Frank, Thomas. (2015, January 22). How to Study Effectively: 8 Advanced Tips - College Info Geek. Retrieved from

Contributed by Elena Matus McDonald on behalf of Rio Salado Counseling, helping students with their personal, educational and career goals.

#finals #finalsweek #finalsweekmotivation #stress #studying #education #student #collegestudent #collegelife #coffee #success #studentsuccesstips #studyideas 

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Findings From Gates Foundation Funded Project

Cover page of "Rio Salado Business Planning: Student Success and Scaling Initiative." Solid dark blue banner with picture of student studying with laptop and papers and pen. Text on top reads "Rio Salado College White Paper" Main text reads, "Planning Transformational Change for Student Success."

Rio Salado has a long history of innovating. Innovation is even found in our vision statement: "We reinvent the learning experience to change lives." 

When the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation offered grants related to improving the college experience through innovation, we jumped at the opportunity.

Rio Salado College received a $575,000 grant to build a roadmap on how to improve the college experience for other colleges to replicate.

It all started when Rio Salado leaders began looking at ways they could transform out-of-state online education-- specifically for under-served populations.

Rio Salado was awarded the grant in November 2015, and completed the project in June 2016.

image of students working on computers

Through the process, Rio Salado learned how to better serve its students and designed a new approach to online education.

Thanks to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation grant, Rio Salado was able to outline a plan to change education for student success. Rio Salado College Business Planning: Student Success and Scaling Initiative provides suggestions and tools to help other institutions design their own roadmap toward transformational change.

Professional headshot of Rio Salado Dean of Instruction and Academic Affairs Shannon McCarty with solid blue horizontal banners.
Shannon McCarty
Rio Salado Dean of Instruction and Academic Affairs Shannon McCarty, who spearheaded the project said, “The support of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has provided Rio Salado College the opportunity to consider the future possibilities of transforming the student experience to increase success and completion. The grant opportunity allowed Rio to reflect on current practices, focus on the ideal state and develop a plan of action that will allow Rio to scale effective practices."

Visit this webpage to read the full white paper.

#GatesFoundation #HigherEd

Monday, December 5, 2016

Sound the Trumpet!

Associate Dean and trumpet player Dustin Maroney performs during "Lunch Break at Rio"

Associate Dean and trumpet player Dustin Maroney performed a mix of traditional and holiday songs for staff and guests during our Lunch Break @ Rio Nov. 30, 2016. He also shared some interesting trumpet trivia with us! Check out our Rio Salado Facebook Page photo album for more pictures of this wonderful event!

The back of Rio staff members' heads in the foreground as they listen in to Associate Dean and trumpet player Dustin Maroney perform in the background during "Lunch Break at Rio"

MCCCD Transformation Meeting Today

Maricopa County Community College District building in Tempe on a sunny day

The Maricopa County Community College District (MCCCD) Governing Board is holding a special meeting for the public to learn more about the MCCCD’s proposed transformation of District governance to a regional model. 

Professional photo of MCCCD Chancellor Maria Harper-MarinickThe meeting will include a presentation by Chancellor Maria Harper-Marinick.

Meeting Time and Location:
Monday, Dec. 5 
7-9 p.m.
Doors open at 6:30 p.m.
Mesa Convention Center Palo Verde Ballroom 

Visit this web page for the latest details about this meeting.