Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Rio Salado College outreach center opens

Rio Salado College, the online college, is reaching out to students with a new center to help students be successful.

On Oct. 6 the college’s outreach center began making personal phone calls to offer students assistance with a variety of tasks. Those tasks included helping with registration, providing information about programs and courses, explaining about financial aid and tuition payment options, informing struggling students about tutoring opportunities and describing how credits transfer to a university.

The center will even call students in jeopardy of being dropped for failure to pay tuition reminding them of the college’s payment plan.

“We are really excited about our new outreach center. It’s another program designed to help students be successful in the college environment,” Kishia Brock, Dean of Enrollment said.

The college already has a myriad of support services including 24/7 help for students with instructional or technical questions, online academic advising, registration, enrollment and library services. But most of those services are geared to current students.

The new outreach center will help prospective students trying to navigate the system before they are enrolled as well as those enrolled with questions.

The new center will even be used to assist students in figuring out the next class they need to complete their educational goals at Rio Salado.

“A lot of students are closer to a degree than they think from the credits they have already taken. We want to make it happen,” Maribeth All, Outreach Manager said.

“We are really offering one-stop-shopping. All the information students need to know will be right here just one phone call away,” All said.

The center will also work closely with the Maricopa County Community College District online student center called My.maricopa.edu.

Students requesting information from the college will also benefit from the new outreach center. Requests for information will be followed with a phone call to ensure mailed material was received and students’ questions have been answered.

“We’re taking customer service very seriously and hope our new outreach center will help students earn the degree or certificate they want,” All said.

Many of the nearly 60,000 students who attend Rio Salado College are nontraditional college students. They may work-full time; have just returned to college after a long absence or they are the first person in their family to attend college. The outreach center will most likely be a new student’s first contact with the college and is designed to be personable and inviting.

“This is a tough economy; in order to be more marketable job seekers need to have an education. Rio Salado understands real life and has designed online classes that start every Monday for our students,” All said. “This makes our job easy because our students don't have to wait for a semester to start their classes.”

Members of the college’s new outreach department are thrilled to be working with students.

“I love that we are reaching out to our students. That’s what we are here for, to help people better themselves by furthering their education,” Mikko Woolley of the outreach team said.

Jeremy Beecroft, who also works in the outreach center, still remembers how intimidating it was when he started college.

“I understand the challenges prospective and current students encounter. I want to help make the Rio Salado College experience to be positive and rewarding for students,” Beecroft said.

Rio Salado College is one of the 10 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.