Friday, January 6, 2012

A New Year’s Resolution You Can Keep: Making College a Reality with Online Classes

A new year brings the promise of new opportunities. It is a time to reflect on unfulfilled dreams and make plans for a better future. In 2011, Rio Salado College helped nearly 70,000 students work toward their educational goals with more than 43,000 taking online classes.

More and more college students are taking advantage of the flexibility of online classes. They can study where and when they want at a time that is convenient for them. According to a recent report, Going the Distance: Online Education in the United States, nearly one in three college students take at least one online course.

For adults who have to balance the responsibilities of work and family, online classes provide a way to earn a college degree or certificate.

“Rio has the flexibility that students need to complete their academic goals,” said Kishia Brock, vice president of student affairs. “Our online classes help busy adults fit college into their schedule. We never cancel an online class and have 48 times a year that students can begin a degree or certificate program, which means students can begin when they are ready to.”

Earning a college degree or certificate can lead to career and professional success. Rio has nearly 650 online classes to choose from. Rio student Jennifer Papworth is working toward a degree in public administration. She always thought that she would go to college when her children were in school.

“I chose Rio because I still had one child at home and wouldn’t have to pay for childcare,” Papworth said. “Online classes fit into my schedule and meant that I didn’t have to spend time away from my husband and kids.”

The college has a wide variety of student services tailored to online students.

“We want our students to succeed and provide comprehensive student support services to help them along the way,” Brock said. “Academic advising, career counseling and tutoring are available. Students also have round-the-clock access to virtual library services and instructional and technology help desks.”

Papworth said that the key to being a successful online student is the same as being a traditional student, “Plan your time wisely, keep your mind open and enjoy the learning experience.”
Rio Salado College is one of ten Maricopa Community Colleges and the largest online public community college in the nation and was recognized as the fastest growing public two-year college in the nation by Community College Times. Founded in 1978, Rio Salado offers degree and certificate programs and general education courses. The college also provides support for dual enrollment, military and incarcerated students, and is the largest provider of adult basic education in Arizona.