While redeeming holiday gift cards from Visa, MasterCard and American Express for MP3 players, high definition televisions and DVDs sounds like a multimedia blast, investing the dollars behind those cards in a college education brings a much greater return of investment.
At the Pinal County Community College District – better known as Central Arizona College – students can use gift cards from credit card companies to begin their higher education journey – or to just pay their spring semester tuition.
Registration for the spring semester is now underway at all nine of CAC’s campuses and centers. The final day of registration for semester-long classes is Saturday, Jan. 17 at 1 p.m.
Central Arizona College has developed six easy steps for anyone to earn college credits, take personal interest classes, pick up non-degree or community classes, or explore the more than 75 degree and certificate programs offered by the institution.
Students entering college for the first time or returning after an extended break should request a MAP (Master Academic Plan), a program designed to tailor-make their educational experience. Transfer students or students taking non-degree courses also may follow the same MAP for easy entry into Central Arizona.
Continuing students – defined as those who were enrolled in the previous semester – are urged to meet with an academic advisor to review their progress in their selected program. In the following six-step process, continuing students may start with Step 3.
Step 1 – Apply to Central Arizona College
Who can attend? Just about anyone.
“Central Arizona College is a public institution of higher education with an open admission policy,” Dr. Doris Helmich, vice president for student services, said. “An open admission policy means that admission to the college and access to educational opportunities may be granted to any person without regard to age, completion or non-completion of a high school diploma or GED, physical disability, economic status, and social or ethnic background.”
Central Arizona College does not discriminate in education programs or activities based on gender, race or religion. Individuals under 18 years of age who have not yet graduated from high school must complete special admission procedures and meet established criteria in order to be admitted to the college.
For further information on admission procedures, potential students are encouraged to call their local campus (in Maricopa at (520) 494-6400) or the college’s customer service help desk at (520) 494-5111.
Students will receive orientation information by mail with the admission acceptance letter.
“We have simplified the application process so taking that first step toward a college education is not so overwhelming,” Helmich said.
Prospective students should complete and submit a Central Arizona College admission form prior to attending an orientation session or registering for classes. The signed and dated form is submitted to the Records Office for processing.
Incoming students may call any Central Arizona College campus or center and ask to speak with an admissions representative for help. Forms may be submitted in person, faxed (520) 494-5083) or completed online at www.centralaz.edu.
Admission forms also may be mailed to the District Office at the following address:
Central Arizona College
Admissions and Records Office
8470 North Overfield Road
Coolidge, AZ 85228
Step 2 – Attend an Orientation Session
“Orientation sessions introduce new students to each other and to Central Arizona College staff and resources,” Helmich said. “Each campus conducts orientation to meet the needs of its students.”
Orientation topics include academic programs, payment options, financial aid, library services, residence life, tutoring services, athletics and student activities. Becoming familiar with these resources really can help new students acclimate to college life.
“All new students are invited to attend an orientation session,” she added. “Orientation is held prior to a student’s enrollment and is unique on each campus. We encourage students to contact their campus of choice for more information.”
Step 3 – See an Academic Advisor
New students are required to meet with an academic advisor to discuss academic goals and review academic history and test scores. The advisor will help the student select courses based on skill level and interests.
“Continuing students in a degree or certificate program should review their program of study with an academic advisor each semester,” Helmich explained. “This helps ensure that the schedule a student is planning is appropriate for that specific degree program. It really helps keep the students on track.”
Students returning to college after a break in enrollment should meet with an academic advisor to review their academic history and discuss the next steps toward completing their program.
Students transferring from another college must meet with an advisor to determine if course placement is required. Official transcripts must be sent to the Records Office, but students may bring an unofficial transcript when meeting with an advisor the first time to help facilitate admission and scheduling.
Central Arizona College not only makes its academic advisors available to students at its campuses and centers, but advising is also performed online via e-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org) or by phone (520) 494-5410.
Step 4 – Register for Classes
Registration for the spring semester is ongoing through Jan. 17. The college will be closed for Martin Luther King, Jr./Civil Rights Day on Monday, Jan. 19, and the semester will begin on Tuesday, Jan. 20.
Students who are following a degree or certificate program may register for classes by bringing a completed and signed registration form to the Records Office at a local campus or by registering online at www.centralaz.edu.
“We encourage students, especially new students, to ask for help if they need it,” Helmich said. “Those first steps into college can be daunting.”
Students may call the Central Arizona College Customer Service Desk at 520-494-5111 or toll free at 800-237-9814, ext. 5111 from 8 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and from 8 a.m.-6 p.m. on Friday.
Step 5 – On-Campus Housing
Available only at the Signal Peak Campus, on-campus housing makes commuting to class cost-effective, efficient and easy.
Students interested in living on the Signal Peak Campus should complete a housing application, submit a $100 deposit and provide proof of immunization to the Residence Life Office (520-494-5470).
While housing is available for students for the spring semester, students interested in on-campus living are encouraged to apply early for a guaranteed assignment.
Step 6 – Finalize Payment
Payment for classes is due at the time of registration and is accepted in the form of cash, check, Visa, MasterCard or American Express. Students also may pay by enrolling in the nelnet (formerly FACTS) payment plan, submitting a third-party authorization, or qualifying for financial aid.
Students can easily enroll in the nelnet payment plan by going to the CAC website – www.centralaz.edu/paymentplan. There is a $30 non-refundable enrollment fee and students must have a checking or savings account, debit or accepted credit card to participate