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Celebrating Community College Month: Why I Chose Rio by Mariah Schneider

photo of Mariah Schneider decorative photo of students in graduation regalia with text: Rio Salado College celebrates #CCMonth

Celebrating Community College Month: Why I Chose Rio

by Mariah Schneider

My Rio Salado College path was first made possible through credit transfers in high school. As a high school freshman, I began taking college classes through Rio Salado’s dual enrollment program to get ahead later in life. 

After a two-year break following high school graduation, I was incredibly nervous about how I was going to return to academics. I'd been someone who's struggled with test anxiety and was still unsure of my college path. 

I began by speaking with the Rio Salado counseling team through email. They gave me multiple tips and solutions about how to prepare for my exams at home. 

Then I contacted Rio’s tutoring department, who helped me get started with the EDReady computer program. EDReady is a great tool that prepares you for college placement exams and helps determine course placement. Using this tool increased my familiarity with online learning components and allowed me time to become confident in the online environment. 

One of the main reasons why I chose to take classes at Rio Salado was for the convenience of scheduling online classes, but one reason I stayed was because of the help from staff. I've been able to talk with academic advisors whenever I need to determine the most economical and efficient path toward getting my degree. Thanks to their experience, I was able to transfer between colleges in the district to save time while completing dual degrees. 

My advisors also helped me identify financial and community engagement opportunities. They assisted with finding scholarships related to my degree goals and introduced me to the Phi Theta Kappa honor society chapter at Rio Salado.

Meeting with my advisors online introduced me to many people who want to make positive changes in our community. They helped me to get involved with the Student Public Policy Forum and other community service opportunities that gave me a greater understanding of my personal goals and hobbies outside of class. 

Over the past few years, Rio Salado revamped its website and the student portal. The updates to the portal improved online accessibility (hello Zoom!), specifically for the bookstore, paying for classes and virtual exam testing options. These benefits have allowed me to complete my degree while keeping my immunocompromised family safe.

With more courses being fully online, I was able to take more classes than I'd usually be able to! I was able to talk with teachers on Zoom or through email, reschedule time if I needed it for class, and complete my finals in ways that prevented my test anxiety.

Thanks to the flexibility of the staff, the convenience of online classes and the opportunity for community engagement, with Rio Salado College I’ve been able to virtually participate with everyone while maintaining a work-life balance never before experienced.

I'm achieving my personal and academic goals while completing my degree. I've had plenty of programs to choose from and be supported through several semesters of academic work. I'm feeling more confident and prepared as I tackle my next year at Rio, and hopeful about my future success.

Mariah Schneider recently travelled with fellow Rio Salado students to explore career possibilities through Roadtrip Nation. Learn more about her adventure.

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