Monday, March 23, 2009

Rio Grad Helps Other Students Succeed

Fifteen years ago, Dawn Beck dropped out of high school due to living in a dysfunctional home environment. Two years ago, the married mother of two decided enough was enough. She enrolled in online classes at Rio Salado College, having already passed her GED exam.

Since then, Beck has earned an associate degree and bachelor’s degree in psychology, a process that would take most students four years or more. Beck did it in two, and now wants to help other students by sharing her secrets.

“I have been asked many times over how I was able to get a degree in such a short time, how to deal with financial aid, how I stayed organized, and how I did all of this with kids,” said Beck. “So I decided to write a book to answer these questions, and to inspire others to go back to school and better themselves.”

Beck’s self-published book, the Online Education Handbook, offers tips and insights on how to succeed in the world of online education, including how to find the right school and program, and how to accelerate classes.

“When I made the decision to go back to school, I chose Rio Salado because of the number of online classes offered, because it was affordable and because of the flexibility, said Beck.

Beck credits Rio’s flexibility with helping her accelerate classes to obtain her associate degree in one year’s time.

“I have had people say to me, ‘but I have kids’ or ‘but I work,’ and they think they don’t have the time to go to school,” said Beck. “But going to school online allows busy people to get an education when it is convenient for them.”

Beck found that online classes suited her home life perfectly. “It was the solution that worked for me because I was able to do my schoolwork late at night or early in the morning, when my kids were still sleeping,” Beck said.

When Beck began her studies at Rio Salado, she still didn’t know what career path she wanted to focus on, but says that wasn’t necessarily a bad thing.

“The beauty of community college is that you don’t have to know what exactly you want to do yet,” said Beck. “By taking my general education classes from different disciplines, I was able to find what interested me, which is psychology.”

Today, Beck is pursuing an online master’s degree in psychology that should be completed in November, and plans to begin working on a doctorate in clinical psychology next year. Beck would like to ultimately own a psychology practice, but also sees herself teaching.

“Once I have my master’s degree, I would love to teach introductory psychology online,” said Beck, clearly keen on helping students succeed with their online education goals, now that she has gone through the experience first-hand.

“I hope that my book helps students and potential students get through some of the confusing barriers associated with going back to school,” Beck said. “I had to find my own way through and I want to make life easier for other students on a similar path.”

More information about Beck’s book can be found at

About Rio Salado College
Rio Salado, founded in 1978, is one of the ten Maricopa Community Colleges in Arizona. The college serves more than 60,000 students annually, more than half online, making it the “college within everyone’s reach.” Rio Salado offers general education courses as well as a variety of degree and certificate programs. For more information visit