Mid Semester Progress Reports

MSRP can mean very different things depending on where you work or go to school. At NOVA, MSRP stands for Mid-Semester Progress Reports.

The idea of receiving progress reports can be daunting for some students; when I was in school, I dreaded mid-semester progress reports. Suddenly, every missed homework assignment felt like the difference between the grade I wanted in my class and the grade I thought I would see on my progress report. But that’s the beauty of a progress report – it lets you know exactly where you stand in a class. More importantly, it opens a line of communication with your professor so you can discuss your standing in a constructive way. Embrace mid-semester progress reports, and remember that they exist to help you achieve more as a student!
Written by Erin Cohen

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Daylight Savings – Sunday, March 9th


I’ll never forget the day back in undergrad when I forgot to set my clock ahead; I was waiting outside of the library on a Sunday morning and couldn’t figure out why the it hadn’t opened yet.  I figured it would be a matter of minutes or seconds before the staff opened the doors.  Little did I know, I had a whole hour to wait when it suddenly dawned on me that I was one hour behind due to it being the first day of daylight savings/spring ahead time!

As a friendly reminder, daylight savings time officially begins on Sunday, March 9th and you will need to set your clock one hour ahead Saturday night.

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New Year- New Opportunity to Lower Stress!


As you are getting ready to embark on a new semester and a new year, why not look for new ways to keep your stress levels to a minimum as much as possible?  Below, you will find some tips on leading a low stress lifestyle by tackling potential sources of stress head on before they strike.

  • Make a fresh start by checking off items on your to-do list that have already been accomplished and as you create new lists, be sure to cross off items as you do them to start your day with an uncluttered mind full of things to do.
  • Set aside time to do something fun; be adventurous and hang out at your local playground or meet a friend for coffee.   Scheduling time for yourself will help you to keep things in perspective during high stress times.  In addition, identify hobbies that you love and set aside time in your planner to do those on a regular basis.  As you plan assignments and homework, penciling in time for leisure activities will give you something to look forward to along the way.
  • Smile and find ways to laugh to remind yourself not to take things too seriously.  Smiling releases endorphins which can help you stay calm and relaxed. 
  • Create a list of positive affirmations that you can refer to whenever you are feeling stressed; they can help remind you that there is no problem you can’t conquer.
  • Wherever possible, try to focus on things that are important, but not necessarily urgent such as spending quality time with loved ones or getting a head start on a research paper to prevent stress from procrastinating later.  Also, practice doing one task at a time, and reflect on what you are learning and taking away from it rather than always following the frantic pace of multi-tasking.
  • Remember to take in deep breaths now and then; imagine you are breathing in health and happiness and exhaling stress and mental clutter.

If keeping your stress levels down is one of your new year’s resolutions, there’s no time like the present to start practicing them.  By gearing up for stress before it strikes, you will be in a better position to cope and to not sweat the small stuff!

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Communication Skills Key Ingredient to Getting Hired in Today’s STEM Economy



If you are looking to get ahead in today’s IT Workforce, strong communication and leadership skills are in high demand.   While technical skills are highly valued, a recent study involving participants from the Society of Human Resource Management cited that basic writing and grammar skills as the primary skill that graduates of this year are lacking.

Effective communication skills as they relate to leadership, building relationships and maintaining cohesive ties to the community go a long way in increasing one’s hiring potential; even with companies that are actively seeking to fill positions in the STEM fields to meet company goals, lacking these key communication skills can decrease your chances of being hired.

If you are determined to increase your marketability in this competitive field, there is no time like the present to cultivate your social skills and interact with diverse groups of people.  Joining a student club on campus or volunteering at events that require interacting with the public can help increase opportunities for social interaction in both leadership and collaborative capacities.

For more information on this topic, visit the following link.

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Three Sections of SDV Classes- Contact Your ACP Advisor to Sign Up!


As a friendly reminder to ACP students, we will be offering three sections of SDV 100 this spring that will take place on the following days and times:

Fridays from 9:30-10:30 a.m. at the Alexandria campus

Mondays from 7:00-7:50 pm at the Reston campus

Tuesdays from 7:00-7:5o pm at the Annandale campus

The classes are 8 week sessions and begin on January 13th.  If you are interested in signing up, please contact your ACP Advisor to register!

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Spring Registration in Full Swing!

Self Service

As a friendly reminder to all ACP students, spring registration is well underway and in full swing.  Please reach out to your ACP Advisor if you have any questions or need guidance on what class(es) to take and/or if you need assistance or have questions about the registration process such as registering online.  During Thanksgiving Break, the college will be closed on Thursday, November 28th and Friday, November 29th; as a recommendation, make it a priority to reach out to your advisor prior to these dates if you have not already done so.  We are happy to help you achieve a smooth transition into the spring semester!

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Growing Areas in the Technology Industry to Keep Your Eyes on

 Great Technology Pic

Good news for IT and STEM majors; there are a lot of growing areas within the technology industry that are projected to continue growing.  Keep your eyes open for these possible job options:

  • Mobile and Wireless Companies have a lot of growth potential within information technology.
  • IT jobs related to Health Information Management are expected to develop new positions with lots of career opportunities.
  • Managing and protecting  large amounts of data, also known as “Big Data” fields, will be in high demand for people to oversee the large amount of information that needs to be managed.
  • Research and development in both information technology and the hard sciences such as biology and chemistry are fast growing as well as transportation and construction management.
  • The processes and systems behind workflow and task management in the overall management of the company mission, known as “Human Factors Engineers and Ergonomists”, are predicted to develop even more in the future job market.

All in all, having a a diverse educational background and skillset will aid in improving your marketability with the goal of attaining employment in a field where there is both opportunity for continual growth and learning so that you don’t stay “stuck” in any one area.  With the dynamic nature of Information Technology, staying abreast of new programming languages and trends in the industry is of the essence.

For more information on this topic, visit the following link.


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Are You Ready for Mid-Term Exams?


It’s that time of semester; mid-term exams are on the horizon and for many of you, they come on suddenly leaving little time to plan ahead and think about the wisest strategy for ensuring academic success and achieving your desired grade.  Below are some tips that will help increase your confidence in your ability to be successful in this area:

  • Create a study schedule at least 2 weeks prior to the exam(s).  Note on your calendar or day planner, preferably as soon as you receive your syllabus, what your mid-term and final exam dates are.  Plan ahead by jotting down questions that you are unclear on from the beginning of the semester and be mindful of your instructor’s office hours and contact information.  Have a set of questions ready well before the exam or immediately as they come up in your mind so you won’t be scrambling at the last minute to get clarification on them.  Make an appointment with your instructor or check in with him/her after class to ensure that you are on the right track with the concepts that are emphasized in the text and lectures.
  • Design your own review sheet using material and concepts from class lectures, terms and concepts from the text that were reinforced in class or by the instructor, and information from previous tests and quizzes up until the date of the exam.
  • On the day of the exam, eat a healthy breakfast (lunch or dinner, depending on the time of the exam).  A balanced combination of protein and complex carbohydrates is recommended for healthy energy levels.  Avoid too much refined sugar which could cause a “crash and burn” effect at an inopportune time!
  • On the day before the exam, have your paper, pencil and study materials ready (for the purpose of looking over them 30 minutes before the test) and even the clothes you plan to wear for that day to prevent unnecessary rushing.  Plan to go to bed early that night so that you are well rested before the exam.
  • Arrive at the testing site early so that you can review your notes briefly before the exam and practice positive internal dialogue such as “there is no problem I can’t conquer” or “I am relaxed and am feeling calm.”
  • Pat yourself on the back for all of the hard work and energy you put into preparing for the exam and know that you did your best to ensure that you will achieve a good grade.  Overall, keeping a positive attitude is key.

If you are still in need of test taking support, don’t hesitate to reach out to your Adult Career Pathways Counselor for guidance.  For more information on this topic, visit the following link.

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Is Procrastination Getting You Stuck?


Are you finding that each time you try to tackle that research assignment, you are getting bogged down in all of the other unrelated tasks that need your attention?  Procrastination involves replacing the important tasks that you need to work on with less important tasks as a way of putting off the immediate task that you need to focus on.  There are a few strategies that you can employ to prevent procrastination from taking over your priorities that include the following:

  • Create structure and deadlines for each part of the task that you need to complete.  For example, if you have a research paper due in 2 weeks, plan on your calendar which part of the task you plan to complete during specific times such as “consolidate notes from multiple research sources on Tuesday” or complete rough draft of introduction.”  The more you can break the tasks down, the less overwhelming they will feel.
  • Sell the topic that you are working on; for example, if you are analyzing a piece of poetry as an English homework assignment, talk out loud about how accurate and creative your analysis is to a friend.  Selling the task you are working on will keep you inspired and motivated to continue working on it.
  • Take regular breaks and engage in a fun activity such as a short walk, a cup of tea of a short conversation with a friend to prevent getting overwhelmed and burned out on the task that you are working on.  The best time to take a break is when you are making major progress on the task so that when you come back to it, you are feeling encouraged and not overburdened by the amount of work that has yet to be done.
  • Set small benchmarks for yourself to find practical ways that the assignment would benefit you such as “how can I apply this reading/assignment to my interpersonal relationships and day to day routine?”  Get creative; what ways does this piece of reading interject a positive message into your everyday life?
  • Rather than strive for perfection, use it as a goal to gradually progress toward based on feedback from tutors or professors specifically related to the method or content of your work.  This feedback may involve organizing the body of your paper more effectively, using well crafted topic and thesis sentences or citing sources based appropriate style such as APA or MLA.
  • Remind yourself of your overarching purpose as it relates to why you are in college, what your long term academic and career goals are and how completing this assignment contributes to that long term goal.  Beginning with the end in mind can help you see the end goal destination you are working toward and remind you why the task you need to complete is important at this time.

Above all  else, give yourself encouragement and positive affirmations as a reminder that your hard work will lead to a long term payoff and that another assignment is another opportunity to practice your anti-procrastination strategies that you will need for future academic and professional successes!

For more information on this topic, follow this link.

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Career Inventories

Man Writing on Paper with Pen on TableNot sure which career path fits you best? With so many options to choose from, you are not alone. When meeting with your Advisor and choosing a major, it is always good to have an idea of what work environments and what kinds of tasks you excel the most. As you learn about which majors correspond to various career types, having this knowledge handy will help to enhance preparation for your advising session. Below are some general career inventories that prompt you to answer a series of questions to get a clearer sense of your interests, skills and strengths.  Even if you are unsure of the scoring, simply answering some of the questions will help you to get better acquainted with your career interests.

Mosaic Career Inventory

Career Link Inventory


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