Matt Saling hasn’t put gas in his truck for two months. An avid biker, Saling rides his bike much of the time including commuting seven miles to work each day. A web developer at Rio Salado College, Saling has been biking to work for more than two years but since gas prices have skyrocketed he admits he’s more motivated to pedal to work.
“I’ve always liked riding my bike to work. It’s a great stress reliever but now it’s also a major relief on my budget,” said Saling.
Gas topping $4.00 a gallon is changing the habits of students and staff alike at Rio Salado College.
“We have really had a substantial interest in alternative modes of transportation including carpooling, bus passes and biking in the last month,” said Ginger Martindale Rio Salado College’s manager of college employee services.
Carpooling participation alone has increased by more than twenty-five percent in the last few weeks at the college, said Martindale.
Sticker shock at the pump is also making an impact on students. Rio Salado student Charles Palau had to quit his job because of the cost of gas.
“It was costing me money to keep the job. I couldn’t afford to get there,” said Palau of Tempe.
And with living expenses so high including the price of gas, Palau gave up his Arizona State University classes and signed up for online classes at Rio Salado College.
“Online classes save me time and money,” said Palau.
Lilian Recinos is another Rio Salado student that says record high prices of gas have made her a believer in online classes.
A first grade teacher who is working on earning her English Language Learner (ELL) endorsement, Recinos said she chose Rio Salado online classes for their flexibility but with the price of gas the online format has become even more attractive.
“It helps now that gas is so expensive,” said Recinos who hopes to have her endorsement by 2009.
Rio Salado student Sarah Chapman is another fan of online classes’ convenience and flexibility. She’s taken both in-person and online classes. But says the cost of gas has encouraged her to continue on with her online schedule.
“Online classes are an extremely cost effective way to get a college degree,” said Sylvia Hantla Dean of Enrollment Services.
“Students save both time and money taking online classes. There is no gas to buy, no wear and tear on the car, no childcare fees and you can adjust your online classes to fit your work schedule,” said Hantla.
Rio Salado College is locally and nationally renowned for its innovative approach to higher education. A pioneer of online learning and known as “the college within everyone’s reach,” Rio Salado optimizes the online learning experience with a variety of advantages including; more than 450 online courses, start dates every Monday, 24/7 online technical and instructional support, $65 a credit tuition and classes easily transferable to a university. One of the ten Maricopa Community Colleges, the college offers degrees and career and technical certificates in business, computer technology, early childhood and teacher education, healthcare, law enforcement and more. For registration or more information call 480-517-8540 or go to www.riosalado.edu/registration.