Wednesday, October 31, 2007

College Degree Leads to Pay Raise

For many, getting a college degree could be the fastest way to a pay raise.

To increase his income, next month John King of Phoenix will start college for the first time at the age of 44.

He plans to get a degree in computer technology from Rio Salado College. After 24 years of working with developmentally disabled adults, King has decided he needs a degree to advance his career.

“I think the most important thing a person needs to consider when deciding to go to school is that, if you don’t have a degree, you’re being shut out of this job market,” King said. “Without a degree, you’re limiting the amount of money you can make.”

King is part of a growing number of people who are finding that the cost of not having a degree is actually more than what they would pay to get one, especially once they look into financial aid and scholarship options.

“Students should look at education as an investment,” said Rachelle Clarke, director of advisement services at Rio Salado. “By investing in their future through education, students increase their opportunities to earn higher salaries and advance their career.”

King found the process to be more straightforward than he expected.

“Enrolling and filing for financial aid has been an easy process because I did a lot of it online. That really helped,” he said.

“People often think enrolling in college is more complicated than it is,” Clarke said. “When students call we explain that Rio Salado is a community college with open enrollment and with the exception of a few programs there is no application process. In many cases students simply need to enroll in a course to get their college career started.”

An adult with an associate degree earns 22 percent more than high school graduates, according to a 2004 study by the College Board, a not-for-profit group. An individual with a four-year college degree earned an average annual salary of $49,900, 62 percent more than the $30,800 earned by the average worker with only a high school diploma.

Rio Salado works with students like King to find the best way for them to pay for their education, said Linda Ross, director of financial aid for the college.
Students can apply for federal and state grants and loans with the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Rio Salado also awards more than a million dollars in scholarships each year. There are new tuition payment plans available as well, she said.

“The fastest and best way to get financial aid is to fill out the FAFSA,” Ross said.

About 85 percent of Rio Salado students complete the FAFSA online at Rio Salado students can be awarded federal financial aid year-round, which isn’t the case with most colleges and universities that have traditional semester start dates.

“Because Rio Salado classes have start dates every Monday, there is no ‘drop dead’ date that you have to complete your FAFSA by,” she said. “Once we confirm a student is eligible for federal aid, they can start their classes.”

Students can also use e-Cashier, an option to pay their tuition and fees in smaller increments over a longer period of time. Pre-scheduled payments are automatically drawn from the student’s checking account or credit card until the balance is paid.

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, 47 percent of all undergraduates enrolled in public 2-year community colleges receive some type of financial aid. Of those students, 40 percent received grants and 12 percent took out student loans.

For more information, contact the Rio Salado Financial Aid Office at 480-517-8310 or visit

Rio President Receives CSULA Distinguished Alumna Award

Rio Salado President Linda Thor received the California State University Los Angeles (CSULA) Distinguished Alumna Award from the College of Natural and Social Sciences on October 25, 2007. She was recognized during the University’s 34th Annual Alumni Awards Gala. Dr. Thor received her Master’s Degree in Public Administration from CSULA. Congratulations, President Thor! We are proud of you!

Monday, October 22, 2007

Rio Launches 50 Start Dates!

Now you can start class every Monday. No waiting for a new semester at Rio, classes start each week. Rio Salado is one of the first colleges and only public institution in the country to offer the flexibility and convenience of weekly start dates. Weekly start dates begin October 22. Already dozens of students have signed up ready to begin class at their convenience. Sign up today! Visit:

Dual Credit Courses Jumpstart a College Education

Former Rio Salado College dual enrollment students Cassi Ware and Jennifer Impiccini skipped their freshman year at Arizona State University.

By the time they graduated from high school they had accumulated enough credits to begin ASU as sophomores. Both students are enthusiastic about the jumpstart they got.
“It was really good to get two years done in one,” said Ware who will complete college in three years.

Dual enrollment courses allowed Impiccini to complete prerequisites needed for her program before she finished high school. She liked the smaller class size.
“In dual enrollment classes it is a lot easier to talk to the teacher and get the help you need,” said Impiccini.

Like thousands of other able and ambitious Valley high school students Ware and Impiccini know dual enrollment classes, classes in which students receive high school and college credit simultaneously, are a bargain.
The classes save students time and money. Students also benefit from rigorous classes taught by college certified instructors.
Rio Salado College was the first college to offer dual enrollment courses and has the largest enrollment in Maricopa County with more than 52 high schools and 7,000 students participating.

Not only do students get a jumpstart on their college education, they are well prepared to succeed once they reach the university.

“We know our student’s academic performance is as good or better as those who take all their classes at the university,” said Vernon Smith, dean of instruction.
Smith calls the program beneficial for all those involved.

“This is a win, win, win, win,” said Smith. “Students meaning parents save on college tuition and textbooks. They also reduce the time spent completing college and eliminate duplication of coursework.”

Taxpayers win since it’s much cheaper to educate students at a community college rather than a university and students are ready to contribute to the economy much quicker.
Rio Salado started the dual enrollment program in 1987 with Xavier College Preparatory High School, and with a few classes at Seton Catholic High School in 1992. By 1993 the program really took off.

In the Tempe Union School District all five of the high schools participate in the program. “I have been taking as many college accredited courses as possible to cut back on expenses once I get there, and this has provided another great opportunity for that. I think the dual enrollment program can benefit so many people, for it has already helped immensely in furthering my education,” said Ashley Martinez, a dual enrollment student at Marcos de Niza High School.

Tempe High teacher Brien Bensel teaches English 101 and 102. Bensel says the additional emphasis in writing helps students be a little more prepared for college.
Elizabeth Stone has been teaching dual enrollment courses for 12 years. She says students in dual enrollment classes benefit from an enhanced curriculum and their academic performance is higher.

“Students leaving my class are going into college prepared for the more rigorous college classes, are more accountable for completing their homework and have a better understanding of the self-preparation needed for exams in college,” Stone said.
Rio Salado is also the only community college in Maricopa County that is NACEP (National Alliance of Concurrent Enrollment Partnership) certified. NACEP certified means credits for courses transfer not only in state universities but out of state as well because colleges and universities are more likely to recognize an accredited institution.
“This is a huge advantage for students. If you are going to take the class make sure the class has the highest accreditation. This is really big deal,” said Smith.

High schools in Mesa, Chandler, Gilbert, Scottsdale, Queen Creek, Glendale, Deer Valley, Fountain Hills, Higley, Paradise Valley, Phoenix and Sunnyslope also participate in Rio Salado’s dual enrollment program. Many parents and students are unaware of the many classes offered in the dual enrollment program.

Typically junior and seniors in high school are eligible to enroll in dual enrollments courses. For a list of classes and high school participating in dual enrollment classes visit

Get Bachelor's in Addiction Counseling Online!

When her family moved from the Valley to Page, Ariz., Miriam Hughes found herself more than two hours away from the classes she needed to complete her degree.

Now a new partnership between Rio Salado College and Grand Canyon University in Phoenix has made it possible for students anywhere in the nation to earn their bachelor’s degree in addiction counseling completely through online classes.

“This is the first entirely online bachelor’s degree program in addiction counseling in Arizona, and only one of a handful of programs nationally,” said Dr. Kirk Bowden, Rio Salado Faculty Chair of the Chemical Dependency Program. “There is a significant shortage of counselors specializing in addiction. This partnership will make this program available to people who would not otherwise have this opportunity.”

Bowden will also oversee the program at Grand Canyon University as the director of counseling and addiction studies. Well known in his field, Bowden serves as the president of the International Coalition for Addiction Studies Education (INCASE) and as a curriculum consultant for the Arizona Board of Behavioral Health Examiners. He recently worked with the federal government’s Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) on dissemination of competencies for substance abuse counselors nationally.

Students can enroll in the online bachelor’s degree program now, with classes starting at Grand Canyon University in January 2008.
“I wouldn’t be getting my degree right now if it weren’t for online classes, simply because I couldn’t spend that much time away from my family,” said the 30-year-old Hughes. “I have three kids and I didn’t want to have to travel two hours one way to class.”

Hughes will receive her Associate in Applied Science Degree in Nursing from Rio Salado in December. In her current work as an LPN at Page Hospital, she noticed that chemical dependency was a major problem for many of her patients. She plans to specialize in the addiction counseling field.
“I was interested in an associate degree in chemical dependency. Now that I know about this new online program, I will go for my bachelor’s degree as well,” Hughes said. “I think this partnership is a phenomenal opportunity for me.”

Students who receive their Associate in Applied Science Degree in Chemical Dependency from Rio Salado will be able to take an additional 19 transfer credits from the college, giving them a total of 83 credits at the community college price of $65 per credit hour (for Arizona residents). Because of the partnership, the credits will seamlessly transfer to Grand Canyon University, where students can complete the 45 remaining credits required for a Bachelor of Science in Addiction Counseling.

In addition to benefiting students in remote locations, the convenient online classes also make education possible for busy professionals who need to arrange their classes around their jobs, Bowden said.

“Many professionals providing addiction counseling have degrees in social work or other related fields, but have never taken courses specifically in addiction counseling,” he said. “Because of the Arizona Board of Behavioral Health Examiners Licensure requirements, individuals need to meet very specific degree requirements to become Licensed Substance Abuse Counselors”.

Carolyn Brown, Rio Salado adjunct faculty member since 1982 and owner and operator of the Desert Oasis Counseling Center in Phoenix, said the program will strengthen the addiction counseling field and improve the quality of its members.

“We started in this field with very few standards or guidelines for being service providers. Now we’re creating standards,” she said. “This program will open new doors and help a lot more people meet the requirements for licensure on all levels.”

For more information or to enroll in the bachelor’s degree program, please contact Karilyn Van Oosten, director of enrollment at Grand Canyon University, at (602) 639-6477 or For more information on the associate degree program, contact Rio Salado at (480) 517-8000 or

Friday, October 19, 2007

Rio Salado Developing Service Center in Avondale

Tempe, AZ, September 11, 2007 – Educational opportunities are expanding in Avondale as Rio Salado College Southwest Service Center prepares to open at Central Avenue and Goold Boulevard. The new center will house a myriad of academic activities including classes for community residents to learn English, train for a new career, gain computer skills or earn their high school diploma.

"Avondale is thrilled to welcome another Maricopa Community College, Rio Salado, to our city," said Mayor Marie Lopez Rogers. "The services and courses it provides will continue to enhance and enrich the educational opportunities for our residents as well as those in surrounding communities. We are also excited to welcome the staff and faculty, as they will expand the city's employment base. "

Already more than 800 Avondale residents benefit from the Rio Salado advantage of affordable, flexible, convenient classes where online classes start every two weeks. Rio Salado College offers more than 450 online and in-person courses and a variety of degrees and certificates including those in business, education, healthcare, law enforcement and more.

The new 12,170 square foot facility will include a testing center, and computer lab and classroom/meeting space. The site will include a wing of five ABE/GED classrooms. These classes are currently free and open to the public.

Built from a voter approved 2004 bond, the center will serve Avondale residents through online learning, educational partnerships, English as a Second Language (ESL), Adult Basic Education (ABE) with GED.

"We have a rich history of serving this community. This will enable us to continue to serve and with our expanded space allow us to meet the community's educational needs even better," said Dr. Linda Thor, Rio Salado College president.

Construction of the $3.9 million facility is currently underway. Completion of the center is scheduled for mid-December with a mid-January opening. The new southwest center is located at 420 North Central Avenue. For registration or more information call 480-517-8540 or go to

Reporters may contact:
Rio Salado College, Institutional Advancement
EJ Anderson (480) 517-8472
Linda Bird (480) 517-8462

Rio Salado Partners Win ASTD Best Awards!

Rio Salado is proud to announce that two of its education partners, Equity Residential and Gables Residential, have been honored with global “Best Awards” from the American Society for Training and Development (ASTD). The ASTD Best Awards recognize organizations of every size and from every sector that demonstrate enterprise-wide success as a result of employee learning and development.

Both partners are property management companies. Headquartered in Chicago, Equity Residential, which placed #7, has won a Best Award every year since 2003. As part of a new integrated business information system, Equity’s national education group, working under the direction of Senior Vice President Tony Pusateri, developed a program to teach or remediate computer skills to employees. Rio Salado converted Equity’s existing training into a format that would remediate deficiencies through college-level classes with credits awarded.

This was the first win for Gables Residential, which is headquartered in Atlanta and placed #33. For Gables, Rio Salado developed customized courses that would bolster the timing and quality of its response to inquiries. Within a few months, these courses contributed to a 200% improvement rate in Gables’ customer response time.

Congratulations, partners, on this significant honor!

Rio Launches 50 Start Dates!

Now you can choose from 50 start dates for most of your online classes! Rio Salado introduces "50 starts" for the total convenience of our students. Sign up today! Visit:

Monday, October 8, 2007

Rio Salado Recognized by Hands Across the Border

Rio Salado College has been recognized for strengthening educational partnerships across the border.

At the 18th Annual Hands Across the Border (HATB) conference in Tucson, Rio Salado was recognized for ten years of participation in an exchange program between students in the United States and Mexico.

In the Hands Across the Border program, Rio Salado students spend several days in Mexico, attending college and staying with students from Mexico’s Instituto Tecnol√≥gico de Hermosillo (ITH). A few months later, the Mexican students come to the U.S. and stay with those same American students.

“These students come home with an understanding of another culture, another country and its educational system,” said Erma Abeyta, Rio Salado College director of international education. “Most importantly, they come home with a life-long friend.”

In addition to social and cultural interaction, the students study a variety of subjects and learn about the business and industry of both countries. The program prepares students to compete in today’s global economy, she said.

Because of its short length, the Hands Across the Border program through Rio Salado is a more affordable alternative to most study-abroad programs. It also requires no prior knowledge of a foreign language and offers complete immersion in the culture.

“For such a short program, we enrich the students more than reading a book ever could,” Abeyta said.

Rio Salado College, located in Tempe, AZ has more than 450 online classes with start dates every two weeks. The college offers degrees and certificates in business, education, healthcare, law enforcement and more. For registration or more information call 480-517-8540 or go to http://www/registration/

Sun Sounds Launches New Safety Program

Tempe, AZ, August 28, 2007 – Safety Dance is a new radio series, featuring information and advice from local safety experts about simple things people can do to avoid common accidents, with special tips for people living with visual disabilities.

One of those safety experts and the host of Safety Dance is Mike Bryant, who thinks safety is more than common sense. He advises listeners that, “Injury prevention is like dancing. It takes a little practice to be good at it.”

Mike is a 13-year Safety Professional with technical expertise in employee health, safety and emergency response who currently serves as a Learning Coordinator for Maricopa County Community Colleges. “With my experience in injury prevention… this program was a natural fit.”

Mike is volunteering his time as an advisor, content developer and interviewer for Safety Dance. This is in addition to his duties as a Sun Sounds volunteer reader. He is one of 500 volunteers at Sun Sounds, many of whom read newspapers, magazines, the latest books and even grocery ads on this special radio station for more than 49,000 Arizona listeners who find it difficult or impossible to read print because of a medical condition or disability.

Listeners can tune into Safety Dance Saturdays at 10 AM and Sundays at 3 AM by logging onto or by calling Sun Sounds for a special radio, which it provides on loan free of charge to eligible listeners.

Each of the first 13 episodes feature 30 minutes of tips and advice many people can apply right away. Among the specific topics covered on Safety Dance are: How to prevent drowning, falls, poisonings, fire, burns, elderly abuse and domestic violence; how to improve stairwells, bathroom space, furniture placement, and lighting; and how to keep safe from intruders, traffic hazards, ATM theft, crowds, sensory overload and sensory isolation.

“Safety Dance falls right in line with our programming mission,” says Andrea Pasquale, Sun Sounds Tempe Programming Manager. “We strive to give listeners information they can use to maintain their independence and improve the quality of their lives.”

Safety Dance experts launching the series include, Pamela W. Goslar, PhD, the lead Epidemiologist for St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center in Phoenix, Captain Jay Arthur of the Phoenix Fire Department and Mark Yoshimura of the City of Phoenix’s Employee Development Division.

“But as the old saying goes, it takes two to Tango,” says Mike Bryant. “Our listening audience must take action. Even if they decide to implement one suggestion per show, it will get them closer to our goal, an injury-free community.”

Safety Dance is a presentation of Sun Sounds of Arizona, sponsored by a grant from Catholic Healthcare West, administered by St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center.

For photos and additional information about this release, contact:
Annette Flores, Marketing CoordinatorSun Sounds of Arizona
2323 W. 14th St.Tempe, AZ 85281-6950
Office: 480-774-8300
Fax: 480-774-8310

About Sun Sounds of Arizona
Sun Sounds of Arizona, established in 1979, is a radio reading and audio information access service for people who find it difficult or impossible to read print because of a disability or medical condition. It is a community outreach service with more than 500 volunteers, which is part of Rio Salado College and KJZZ with affiliate stations located in Flagstaff, Tempe, Tucson and Yuma. For eligible listeners, Sun Sounds of Arizona is available free of charge, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week using special radios, designated cable systems, telephone and the internet.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Grand opening scheduled for Rio Salado College Lifelong Learning Center

Educational opportunities have grown in the West Valley as Rio Salado College Lifelong Learning Center holds its building dedication and celebration for its expanded facilities in September.
The expansion, a result of the successful passage of the 2004 Proposition 401 capital campaign, has tripled the current center adding an additional 10,000 square feet of space to the original 5,000.

A long list of dignitaries are expected to attend the event including Dr. Rufus Glasper, Maricopa County Community College District Chancellor; Mrs. Linda Rosenthal, MCCD Governing Board President; Dr. Linda Thor, Rio Salado College President; Joan Shafer, Mayor of Surprise and Michelle Dionisio, President and CEO of Interfaith Community Care.

New classes and educational offerings have been added to the center making it a multi-generational center with courses of interest for all ages including credit and non-credit classes.
“We are creating an educational empowerment zone. This zone will support all aspects of the educational needs of this community,” said Todd Aakhus, director of the center. The center is designed to serve the communities of Surprise, Sun City, Sun City West, El Mirage, Peoria, Wittman, Wickenburg and northwest Phoenix.

Classes are offered in adult basic education, GED, English as a Second Language, online and self-paced computer classes, law enforcement technology, and the weekend college for teacher education programs. The center also includes RISE Learning for Life which offers 200 classes annually for senior citizens in a variety of areas taught by experts in the field. For more information about courses and programs available at the Rio Salado College Lifelong Learning Center located at 12535 Smokey Drive call 480.517.8770.

The grand opening celebration is free and open to the public.
Rio Salado College’s Lifelong Learning Center Building Dedication and CelebrationTuesday, September 25 at 9 a.m.12535 Smokey DriveSurprise, AZ 85374