I Have Mixed Feelings About My Enrollment In Rio Salado College In Tempe Arizona

As a busy parent who works full-time, when I decided to go back to college, I needed a college that was flexible and would allow me to get my education based around my schedule. Rio Salado is an online distance learning college that I chose to use to work on my degree. Rio Salado is based in Tempe, Arizona but you do not have to be an Arizona resident in order to attend this college. To make things even easier, this college accepts financial aid and the enrollment process is very easy. If you take a course that requires a proctored exam, you can take your test down at the college, or arrange a local proctor if you are a distance learner.

My first couple of classes went very well. All of the books and materials that I needed were sent to me by mail and all of my coursework was done online (except my proctored testing). The first instructors that I had were easy to reach and responded to any questions that I had regarding course material promptly. I was pleased with Rio Salado; I was glad to see that I could continue my education despite working full-time, parenting and multiple other responsibilities. Then I took two more classes, and because of my experience with those classes, my Rio Salado experience and review has somewhat changed.

I enrolled in a beginner level French class. The start date of the course was approximately 2 weeks into the future. I was told by the college advisement center that I had plenty of time to order the books and supplies that I needed to complete this course. For my online French course, I needed to use a special headset and software set supplied by Rio Salado college (I think it was Auralog). Everything was ordered and paid for and I waited to receive my supplies. I contacted the college bookstore at least twice to check on the status of my order, and was told that it was en route. To make a long story short, the class started and I did not have my headset and software that I needed for the class.

I e-mailed the instructor to let him know what was going on, and he told me that they would be able to give me an extension on the work that I was going to miss and that it was not a problem. Two or three more lessons had elapsed, and I still had not received my headset and software. The class lessons were getting progressively more difficult, despite my following along without my headset and software. I'm not sure what the problem was, or why I never received my order, but it never did come. I contacted Rio Salado college and requested to drop the class. I was told that because too much time had gone by, I was not permitted to drop the class. I reiterated to them that I did not have the necessary materials to complete the course and despite having documentation of several phone calls to the college bookstore, they still refused to drop me out of the class or to refund my money.

I realize now that many of the instructors who teach online college classes are paid per student. This would explain why the instructor encouraged me to stay in their class so strongly. It was my idea initially, to drop it and re-enroll when I got my supplies. Unfortunately, what ended up happening was that the instructor got paid for my attendance and I was never able to drop or participate in the course. Because they would not withdraw me from the class, I ended up getting an "F" on my record and failed the course. I chalked this experience up to a fluke, due to my prior positive experiences and decided to try Rio Salado college for another course. 

I enrolled in a biology class that I had been wanting to take for several years. I received my books and my lab kit in the mail promptly and I was looking forward to starting. I completed all of my coursework chapter by chapter, and turned each lesson in, one at a time on schedule. I had an "A" average. Usually, it can take up to a week or two for your instructor to grade a lesson before giving it back to you, graded. At one point, two weeks had gone by and I had not yet received my graded lesson back. I e-mailed the instructor to check the status of my lesson while continuing to turn in my future assignments. The instructor e-mailed me back, telling me that they had not yet received my assignment. By the time I received this response, three weeks had elapsed since I turned in the assignment. I figured, no need to worry, this is why Rio Salado tells us to save all of our work in a Word document on a computer, in case there is a glitch in the system or the instructor does not receive your work through the college submission software. I e-mailed the instructor back, and told them that I would be resending the assignment immediately. The instructor replied back, and told me that because so much time had elapsed, I would only receive half credit for the assignment, despite it being a huge assignment that was worth a large portion of my grade. That was the last class that I took with Rio Salado college.

It is understood that taking online college classes is a bit different from taking traditional in-person college classes. However, glitches and system problems may arise and the student should not be held accountable for problem with the college system or their software. I did escalate my complaints as instructed to by the student representative, and Rio Salado College sided with the instructor. I was surprised to see that despite having proof of submission of the assignments that they still chose to only give me half credit for my hard work. Despite this experience, I still say that online college classes are a great solution for those who need the flexibility. I have since enrolled in another online college, and I have not had any problems with them. Before enrolling in an online college, it may be a good idea to take just a couple of courses, as opposed to a full course load to try at the school and make sure that they offer great support.

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