Monday, July 28, 2008

Maricopa Week great time to enroll

If you’re thinking of returning to college, interested in a career change or want to save time and money with an online class now’s your chance.

This week, July 28 through August 1, Rio Salado College is holding Maricopa Week. This is the ideal time to enroll in college before the big crowds hit.

Students can meet with an academic advisor, find out about financial aid and learn about Rio Salado’s state-of the art course delivery system RioLearn.

There are also balloons and give-aways during this week for students. Hundreds of students have already enrolled in Rio Salado’s more than 450 online classes.

Taking community college classes from home has many benefits including saving gasoline as prices at the pump continue to take a big chunk out of residents’ wallets.

“It’s affordable and it’s a really good value,” said Marisa Zelaya, 28, who is pursuing an associate’s degree in general business and plans to transfer to Arizona State University, one of the many universities that partners with Rio Salado. Zelaya likes her online class.

“I can do it in my jammies if I want on the weekends,” Zelaya added.
Amy Green, a 34-year-old Avondale student, said her health problems require her to be at home much of the time, making Rio Salado’s online classes perfect for her.
“I just completed the CIS (Computer Information Systems) course and I’m starting my associate’s (degree) in business next week,” Green said. “My initial goal is to do my home-based business, which is what this is all going towards.”

“It was the first time I had done online,” she said, adding that, “It’s been convenient,” and the instructors have been “responsive” to questions.

Queen Creek resident Bill Cotten, 25, said he took in-person classes at another community college but learned more at Rio Salado, where he takes online courses.
“I like it,” Cotten said. “I work full-time so it works with my schedule.”

He said he plans to transfer to Northern Arizona University, another of the many universities which partners with Rio Salado, allowing students to transition without losing credits.

Meeting with an academic advisor during Maricopa Week or any other time is a smart move for current and new students, said Rio Salado College director of advisement Rachelle Clarke.

“College is complex,” Clarke said. “Advisors can help students navigate college including showing students what an online course looks like.

“Working with an academic advisor provides you with a constant connection to the college,” she added.

Advisors can explain Rio Salado College policies and help students learn what classes are required to pursue specific degrees, Clarke said.

Advisors also talk to students about what is going on in their personal lives and provide tips for time management and how to access other resources to make their college experience successful, Clarke said.

“People are signing up for classes year-round at Rio Salado College,” she said. “If people are thinking about going to college for the first time, re-careering or going back to college after a break Rio Salado is the right place to start,” said Clarke.

Rio Salado College is 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

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Registration for ESL classes begins this month


(TEMPE, AZ - July 17, 2008) - Students from across the Valley are improving their English with a new program offered online and in-person from Rio Salado College. The new program offers beginning, intermediate, and advanced English-as-a-Second-Language (ESL) classes that will help students improve their reading, writing, listening, and speaking skills.

Registration begins July 22 and continues through August for ESL credit classes. In-person classes begin August 25 in Tempe, Surprise, and Mesa.

Dozens benefit from the classes that allow students to learn English from the comfort of their homes. Maria Romero, a stay-at-home mom with three children, is thrilled she can improve her language skills without leaving home.

“I have three kids,” Romero said, adding she studies diligently daily. “I can’t go out every day.” Her goal is to someday get a good job. For now she spends her time perfecting her English.

“I like everything,” said Romero of her online experience. “The school is the best.”

The classes use innovative voice-recognition software that allows students to hear the words they need to speak and read English. The classes include games and other engaging activities, as well as quizzes and writing assignments to reinforce the lessons.

Registration for classes is available at a “One-Stop-Shop”event. Online classes start every Monday. In-person classes are available beginning Aug. 25.

Open registration sessions are scheduled for the following:
Lifelong Learning Center12535 Smokey Drive, Surprise (just south of Bell Road)
Tuesdays (9 a.m. - noon)
Tuesday, July 22
Tuesday, August 5
Thursdays (5 p.m. - 7 p.m.)
Thursday, July 31
Thursday, August 14
Thursday, August 21
- More -

- Rio Salado College ESL Classes -
Rio East Valley1455 S. Stapley Drive, Mesa (just north of the Superstition Freeway)
Tuesdays (9 a.m. - noon)
Tuesday, July 29
Tuesday, August 12
Tuesday, August 19
Thursdays (5 p.m. - 7 p.m.)
Thursday, July 24
Thursday, August 7

Rio Salado College2323 W. 14th Street, Tempe (just west of 52nd Street between University and Broadway)
Wednesdays (9 a.m. - noon & 5 p.m. - 7 p.m.)
Wednesday, July 30
Wednesday, August 6
Wednesday, August 13
Wednesday, August 20

For more information about the registration sessions or enrollment please call the bilingual (English/Spanish) ESL hotline at 480.517.8249.
E. J. Anderson
Media Relations Manager
Rio Salado College
2323 West 14th Street
Tempe, AZ 85281

New Triwest scholarship benefits military/family

Recent Rio Salado College graduate Dina Styles completed her associate’s degree in computer technology while traveling the world.
An online student, Styles has taken her Rio Salado classes while her husband, an active military member was stationed in various states and countries including Okinawa, Hawaii and Japan. Styles earned her degree taking just one or two classes a semester as she juggled her family responsibilities. She even continued her studies while her husband was deployed for more than 18 months.
“I selected online classes because of their flexibility,” said Styles. I could take care of my family and spend a couple of hours doing my work,” Styles added.
The online format made it possible for Styles to carry on with her college studies no matter where she was and what her husband was doing.
”I think online classes are great, especially for those of us who have busy a lifestyle and those in the military always have something going on,” said Styles.
A new scholarship for the military may make earning a college degree in these tough economic times even easier. TriWest Healthcare Alliance has created a special scholarship program for Rio Salado College and the Maricopa Community College District for military service members and their families. A Service Members Opportunity College (SOC), Rio Salado has more than 5,000 service members currently enrolled.
“With our online focus we are really able to cater to the needs of the military,” Rio Salado College Vice-President Chris Bustamante said.
As a SOC member, Rio Salado has been serving the military for nearly three decades starting with educational opportunities at Luke Air Force Base.
While Rio Salado College has been educating military members serving around the world for years, they are also increasing their focus on military spouses.
“We recognize the need for dual incomes and providing military spouses with the opportunity to gain a college education and a career that works well with the military way of life,” Yvonne Lawrence coordinator of Military Programs at Rio Salado College said.
“Rio Salado online course work allows spouses around the globe to earn college credit even though they maintain a very transitory life,” Lawrence said.
Rio Salado has a dedicated military advisement team. These advisors understand the needs and challenges of going to college while serving one’s country, Lawrence said. The college’s schedule is also conducive to the military lifestyle with classes starting more than just once a semester but every Monday.
“TriWest is privileged to partner with the Maricopa Community Colleges to provide this opportunity for U.S. service members and their families,” said David J. McIntyre, president and CEO for TriWest Healthcare Alliance, which sponsors the new scholarship. “It is the least we can do in return for the opportunities that we all have as Americans, thanks to their service to our country.”
TriWest is a Phoenix-based corporation that partners with the Department of Defense to support the health care needs of 2.7 million members of the military, is open to military members and their families.
Scholarship winners will be awarded a maximum of $500 per applicant per term. The scholarship can be used for tuition, books or stipends. Priority will be given to Rio Salado College students but the scholarship is available to all MCCCD students on request who have a financial need. Applicants must enroll in a minimum of three credit hours a term. Scholarship winners must maintain a 2.0 grade point average to receive subsequent scholarship funding.
Applicants for the scholarship must be service members, spouses or dependents of someone who is in the active, reserve, or guard component of any U. S. military service branch
For more information on the TriWest Military Scholarship visit the MCCCD Foundation web site at
or call at 480-731-8407. Applicants can also go to the Rio Salado web site at or call 480- 517-8000 or 1-800-729-1129.


National testing center opens at Rio Salado@Luke AFB

Rio Salado College is proud to announce an On-Base National Test Center is opening at Rio Salado @ Luke AFB in Glendale on Wednesday, July 23.

An open house will be held at 10 a.m. in conjunction with a college fair at the base, 7383 N. Litchfield Road in Glendale.

Students will be able to take the College-Level Examination Program (CLEP) and DSST exams at Rio Salado @Luke AFB. CLEP and the DSST are testing programs that give students the opportunity to earn college credit for learning that is acquired outside the traditional classroom. The exams are free of charge to members of the military, Bill Bristol, coordinator of instructional programs for the West Valley - Luke Air Force Base for Rio Salado College said.

Luke Air Force Base Wing Command CMSgt. Richard Robinson and Deputy Commander of the Mission Support Group David Edwards will provide opening remarks at the open house on the third floor in the atrium next to the cafeteria near the college fair. Charles Dittell, the new Chief of Education and Training at Luke Air Force Base, will serve as moderator and also make introductory remarks.

Rio Salado administrators are expected to attend as well.

After the opening comments, the group will move to the new Test Center, where Dr. Chris Bustamante, Rio Salado College vice-president of Community Development and Student Services will speak. Cake and punch will be served in the atrium afterwards.

The public is welcome to attend the event but must secure a pass to access the base. Information: 480-377-4010.

Rio Salado College is 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

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Save gas, time, money with online classes


Ready to register for fall college classes but with the economy on the skids not sure if you can afford it? Looking for some big savings so you can hit the books?

Around the nation would-be students are stymied by the cost of a college education in today’s economy. They are struggling just to pay for gasoline, groceries and other necessities. At the same time furthering their education can be the key to creating better lives for themselves and their families.

Rio Salado College, partnering with Pearson Custom Publishing and Follett Higher Education Group, has found an innovative way to dramatically decrease college costs.

The Textbook Savings Program reduces students’ costs to buy a new, customized textbook for courses by 50 percent, leaving extra funds to pay for more classes, gasoline and other living expenses.

The first program of its kind in the United States, it allows Rio Salado students to pay for only the material they will need for their courses.

“It’s a guaranteed savings upfront,” Carol Scarafiotti, Rio Salado’s executive consultant for online learning and vice president emeritus said. “People who think they can’t afford college may want to take a second look, whether they are young students or mothers or fathers” returning to college, Scarafiotti said.

The Textbook Savings Program is just one way Rio Salado, a pioneer in online education, saves students time, money and travel time. At only $71 per credit hour for Maricopa County residents, with 450 online classes to choose from, Rio Salado is the college within everyone’s reach!®

The savings start before students even step into the online classroom.
Students can purchase the customized textbooks in English 101, Biology 201 and 202, History 103 and 104, Communications 110 and other popular, required courses. Faculty decides what material is needed and the textbooks are “designed to align with the courses we teach,” Scarafiotti said.

The program will cover about 90 percent of the textbooks used in Rio Salado classes.

Rio students would only pay $41.50 on a customized English 101/102 textbook that would cost $117.50 to purchase the entire edition from a typical community college. Rio Salado provides a customized Biology 160 textbook for only $80 compared to $151 to buy the non-tailored textbook outside of the college.

Combine that with the tremendous savings students accumulate taking classes online rather than paying astronomical prices at the gasoline pump and it all adds up to great savings.

For example a Rio Salado student can take Biology 160 three days a week online. At an on-site community college that same student would likely spend nearly $300 in gasoline just to drive to a campus within 15 miles of their home and would have to shell out $151 to buy the non-customized biology textbook. Doing it the Rio way saves that online student about $370 in gasoline and textbook costs.

A leader among custom publishers for more than 30 years, Pearson Custom Publishing is part of Pearson Education’s Higher Education group.

The largest of the 10 Maricopa Community colleges, Rio Salado offers 450 online classes to more than 26,000 online students. It is one of the nation’s largest providers of certifications. The college offers degrees and certificates in education, business, healthcare, law enforcement and other areas. New classes start every Monday. For more information and to register visit 480-517-8540 or

Traditional community college: Tuition: $284 for Biology 160, Textbook:
$151 (non-customized), Gasoline: $295.20 for 16 weeks (15 miles each way with gas at $4.10 a gallon)

Rio Salado College: Tuition: $284 for Biology 160, Textbook: $80 (Rio customized)
Gasoline: Zero for online classes!

Friday, July 11, 2008

Rio Salado celebrates 30 years of success

Rio Salado College is celebrating 30 years of Learning, Innovating and Partnering locally and in communities around the world.

The 30th anniversary is often referred to as the year of pearl. Founded in 1978, Rio Salado, “the College within Everyone’s Reach©,” is rare, fine and admirable like a pearl.

A pioneer in online education, Rio Salado was designed as a “college without walls” to serve working adults and other, non-traditional students previously left behind.

Starting with a staff of 22, Rio Salado registered 8,000 credit and 24,000 non-credit students at 78 locations in Arizona by August of 1978.

Now Rio Salado College serves more than 60,000 students and offers 450 online classes. Online courses conveniently start every Monday.

The innovative college partners with more than 40 workforce development employers, as well as the U.S. Department of Defense in a program that benefits military students.

Rio Salado is one of the nation’s largest providers of certifications. The college offers degrees and certificates in education, business, healthcare, law enforcement and other areas.

In its 30th year Rio Salado continues to be an admirable force that is transforming the world of higher education by constantly responding to students’ needs. To learn more visit

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Sun Sounds director receives award


On July 25th Bill Pasco, Director of Sun Sounds of Arizona, will receive the 2008 Americans with Disabilities “Liberty Accessibility Advocate” award from the Arizona Disability Advocacy Coalition.

“The Liberty Accessibility Advocate award honors a community member who advocates for equal access for people with disabilities. We recognize Bill Pasco for his active involvement and broad work in promoting accessibility in our state,” says Amina Kruck, AZDAC Chair.

The Liberty Accessibility Advocate award will be presented to Pasco on Friday, July 25th in the State Capitol Towers lobby in conjunction with the 18th birthday celebration of the Americans With Disabilities Act. Governor Janet Napolitano will deliver the keynote speech, and other leaders in the disability community will be on hand to present the award. The public is invited to attend.

Pasco, Director of Sun Sounds of Arizona since 1996, is a proponent of using technology to provide wider access to information. In 1998 Sun Sounds of Arizona was the first reading service to stream their broadcast on-line. That same year Sun Sounds launched Sun Dial, an innovative touch-tone telephone system that visually impaired customers can use to surf speech-enabled websites.

Under Pasco’s leadership Sun Sounds of Arizona has won more programming awards from the International Association of Audio Information Services than any other radio reading service.

Outside his role at Sun Sounds, Bill pursues accessible technology at the national level. He helped define national standards for accessible consumer radios, and was an early tester of some of the digital technologies which will be part of the new HD radio environment including DVR style recording and time shifting for radio audiences.

Locally, Bill dedicates time each election cycle to help the Arizona Clean Elections and the Arizona Secretary of State provide accessible voter information guides through Sun Dial. He is a past Chairman of the Arizona Governor's Council on Blindness and Visual Impairment, and is recognized in the community as an accessibility resource. Bill seeks opportunities to assist organizations in fulfilling ADA requirements, and mentors and coaches other professionals in making their workplaces accessible. His message: “Make it accessible by design – not as an afterthought.”

The Liberty Accessibility award highlights Bill’s longstanding vision that, by providing every disabled person access to current information, the inability to read print will no longer be considered a disabling condition.

For accessibility information, questions for Bill, or to volunteer, donate, or refer a listener to Sun Sounds of Arizona call 480-774-8300 or 1-866-967-8300.

Heidi Capriotti
Marketing Coordinator
Sun Sounds of Arizona
2323 W. 14th St.
Tempe, AZ 85281-6950

About Sun Sounds of Arizona
Sun Sounds of Arizona, established in 1979, is a radio reading and information service for individuals who are blind or living with a disability that make it difficult or impossible to read print. It is a community outreach service with more than 500 volunteers, and is part of Rio Salado College and KJZZ with affiliate stations located in Flagstaff and Tucson. For eligible persons, 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.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

College Catalog Has Gone Green!

When Rio Salado College business student Robin Moran needs information from the college’s catalog, she doesn’t sift through stacks of books on a bookshelf but goes quickly online. “It’s convenient. I do my classes online so it’s easier to access the catalog through the Internet,” said Moran who is working on an associate degree in business. Moran is like the majority of the students at Rio Salado. They prefer using the online version of the college catalog to the printed copy.

This year Rio Salado College is forging new territory. Following a national and local trend, the college is doing away with its traditional, information-heavy printed catalog and going online. The move is expected to save thousands of dollars but, most importantly, will give students what they want. “Our research has shown an online catalog is what students prefer,” said Jennifer Shantz, Rio Salado College faculty over curriculum development. Although the college has had an online catalog for years, the college has always provided a printed copy as well, to give to students, faculty and staff. This is the first year that information contained in the catalog will be accessed primarily online.

Some hard copies of the catalog will continue to be printed for students who don’t have access to a computer and for reference material. In past years, Rio Salado has printed and distributed more than 25,000 catalogs annually. “We will be printing a few catalogs for special populations of students but the majority of our students will be accessing the catalog online,” said Shantz. Economically sound and environmentally friendly, the catalog will also be available on a CD for students.

The transition to online came after months of research. Surveying nearly 500 students, the survey found 71 percent of the students were already accessing the college’s online version of the catalog instead of the printed version. The survey also found the majority of Rio Salado students could easily access the online catalog. “I think today’s students are familiar and comfortable using the Internet so it makes perfect sense for the online version of the catalog to be preferred over the printed one,” said Shantz.

The new approach also meets the college’s goal for 2012 for sustainability as the online version costs less and is more environmentally sound, said Shantz. The new online catalog is indexed and linked with the college web site making it easy to access for information, said Rio Salado College Web Manager Eddie Calderon. “It will be easy for students to maneuver through the catalog and access information needed through the online catalog drop down menu,” said Calderon.

The catalog is available online at: and is also available on CD-ROMs for students upon request.