Basics of E-mail Etiquette

One of the most important means of communication we use as students is e-mail. We use e-mail to chat with friends, receive updates from our professors, and contact advisers to schedule meetings. It is not uncommon for a student to have more than ten e-mails each time they check their inbox!

Now that e-mail has become such an integral part of our daily school and career workload, e-mail has its own set of unwritten rules and customs. Knowing these rules and keeping excellent habits with regard to checking, responding to, and organizing your e-mail will help you become more professional and efficient and also protect you from liability in your online work.

The rules and etiquette of e-mail ranges depending on the nature of business at your school or place of work. However, the following rules are a good place to start:

  1. Be concise and to the point. With so many e-mails clogging up our inboxes these days, it can be taxing to read a long, seemingly endless e-mail. So while your story of why you are going to sign up for Economics 101 may be fascinating, you might want to save it for when you see your professor in person. At the same time, you don’t want to seem too short with someone via e-mail. Even if your answer is a simple “yes” or “no,” write your response into one complete sentence and be sure to add a salutation of some kind.
  1. Answer all questions. To avoid a constant back and forth, be sure to answer all questions asked in the e-mail to which you are responding. If you have several messages from the same person, be sure to keep the entire thread in your response.
  1. Use proper spelling, punctuation, and grammar. I know this one might seem simple, but you’d be surprised how many e-mails I receive that include “u” instead of “you” and other text/chat lingo and shortcuts. Do not use chat lingo in your e-mails! Abbreviated versions of words are not only difficult to read, they could also really confuse the older generation! ;)

A few other quick tips: DON’T WRITE IN ALL CAPITAL LETTERS! (Did you interpret that as a yelling voice? So will everyone else!) Answer e-mails promptly so you don’t leave anyone hanging. Be sure to proof-read your e-mails before you send them! You’d be shocked at the number of silly mistakes I find in mine. Don’t forward chain letters or spam e-mail from your work or school accounts. And lastly…

Try not to overuse the “Reply All” feature. The entire Pathway program thanks you.

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Learn from Anywhere with ELI Webinars

In our lifetimes, we have seen technology completely transform lives. From heavy, box-like cell phones to the smartphones we now use, we have witnessed the rapid growth and development of technology. Academic institutions are increasingly turning to new computer technology to improve student learning, and one of the ways NOVA is engaging students through technology is with ELI Webinars.

ELI (Extended Learning Institute) Webinars allow students to attend a seminar from anywhere in the world. That’s right, pajama lovers! You don’t even have to leave bed anymore to attend a seminar on a subject that interests you! With this technology, students can now attend seminars at the library, at home, or even on the go by using a mobile device. Using a computer with an Internet connection, students can log on to the webinar portal and take part in a seminar in real time. Sound is available by using speakers or headphones attached to the computer, and students can even participate in the seminar by speaking into a microphone or typing text into a text box located on the side of their screens.

ELI Webinars are FREE for students, but early registration is required. While it is best to register for a webinar as early as you can, registration usually closes about two hours before the webinar is planned to begin. To learn more about ELI Webinars and to see a full list of upcoming subjects, visit www.eli.nvcc.edu/webinars.

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Take Care of Your Kidneys

Today is World Kidney Day! Kidneys are essential organs that remove toxins and waste from our blood and shuttle it out of our bodies through our urine. While many people live with one kidney or no kidneys on dialysis, it’s important to keep our kidneys functioning their best. Sadly, more than 100,000 Americans are diagnosed with kidney failure every year. Many common causes of chronic kidney disease (which leads to kidney failure) can be avoided by making healthy lifestyle choices. In honor of our favorite bean-shaped organs, here’s a list of a few ways to make sure your kidneys are in tip-top shape!

Maintain healthy fluid intake. Water is vital for kidneys because it helps the kidneys clear sodium, urea, and toxins from our bodies. The jury is out on how much water we should drink every day. In general, doctors suggest about 1-2 liters of water a day to maintain normal kidney function. Don’t overdo it, though. The right balance is different for everyone, so talk to your doctor to find out how much water is right for you.

Monitor your blood pressure and control blood sugar levels. Two of the most common causes of kidney disease are high blood pressure and uncontrolled blood sugar. Half of people with diabetes suffer kidney damage, and many need a kidney transplant. If you have high blood pressure or are at risk for diabetes, be sure to have your kidney function checked regularly.

Eat a healthy diet and keep your weight in check. Regular exercise and a healthy diet help control weight, which can prevent diabetes, heart disease, and other diseases linked to chronic kidney disease. An active lifestyle also helps lower blood pressure. It’s important for people at risk of kidney disease to reduce sodium intake. A diet rich in whole, natural food is often suggested by kidney specialists. Check out a list of kidney-friendly foods here.

Get your kidney function checked. Your doctor can easily test your kidney function during a routine appointment. If you are concerned about risk factors that could lead to kidney disease or other kidney problems, remember that early detection will give you the best shot at getting back to full health.

To read more about kidney health, learn about kidney and other organ transplants, and see a list of events supporting kidney health in your area, visit the National Kidney Foundation’s website.

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Fall Asleep Faster & Wake Feeling Rested

Doctors say we should get 7-9 hours a sleep every night, but how often does that actually happen? It’s very important for college students to get enough rest. A good night’s sleep will help you retain information better and feel great during your classes. If you’re having trouble getting a good night’s rest, give some of these ideas a try:

Avoid stimulants like coffee and sodas. Research suggests that even a cup of coffee early in the afternoon can keep your body wired all night. Instead, try eating a snack rich in protein like almonds or cheese. You can also get a jolt of energy from fruit, like an apple or a banana.

Limit exposure to lights and electronics before bed. Electric lights and the glow of our phone and computer screens can confuse our bodies and make it harder to fall asleep. Try to avoid these lights for an hour before you go to bed. If you look at social media to unwind, try reading a chapter out of a paper book before bed.

Exercise daily. Even 10 minutes of aerobic exercise (like walking, riding a bike, or swimming) can help you fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer. It’s hard for busy students to find time to go to the gym. Instead, try taking a walk around campus between classes or try to take the stairs more often.

Stretch out your muscles before bed. Doing a few simple stretches before you lay down can help your body relax so you can fall asleep faster. Bend over to touch your toes, stretch out your arms, and roll your shoulders to loosen up.

Try guided imagery or listen to relaxing music. Worries throughout the day can really pile up by bedtime. When your brain just won’t relax, try guided imagery or going to a “happy place” in your mind. Think of a favorite location, a dream vacation, or other relaxing spot you’d like to be. Let the image fill your mind. Thinking of a relaxing place can help you fall asleep.

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Hit the Books at the NOVA Library!

The college library is not just for bookworms! Today, college libraries offer far more than just stacks of books. Many college libraries, like NOVA, have become a center for student learning through various media including books, e-books, magazines, audio books, videos, podcasts, articles, and more. These resources are ideal for students looking for information for their next research paper or class project. At NOVA, librarians and media specialists are available to answer student questions and assist students in finding the resources they need. There is even a feature called “Ask A Librarian” on NOVA’s website that allows students to e-mail or live chat with a librarian 24/7.

The NOVA libraries also offer group and individual study spaces that are ideal for study groups and those who prefer to study in quiet spaces. Group study spaces have different features depending on the campus, though most feature group seating and white boards or other materials to help group members share ideas. Some group study rooms are given on a first come, first served basis, while others can be reserved by visiting the library website. Individual study desks are ideal for students engaged in independent study and provide a quiet space to work on assignments or research between classes.

In addition to these great resources, NOVA libraries have many textbooks on reserve for students enrolled in college courses. This allows students who do not have access to the course textbook to use one located at the college when it is available. While most reserve items are available for use only in the library, some of these items may be available for check-out. For more information, you can visit www.nvcc.edu/library/reserves.html or visit the Circulation Desk at the NOVA library closest to you.

NOVA has a total of seven campus libraries located at Alexandria campus, Annandale campus, Loudoun campus, Manassas campus, Medical Education campus, Reston Center, and Woodbridge campus. There is also an Extended Learning Institute (ELI) library available with e-mail responses provided within 24 hours Monday-Saturday.

For more information and a full list of NOVA library locations and hours, visit www.nvcc.edu/library.

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NOVA Shuttle Service Updates

New NOVA shuttle routes were recently added to the three existing routes to further connect NOVA faculty, staff, and students with each NOVA campus and nearby transportation hubs like Metro stations and bus stops! The new routes, D, E, and F, will provide service from the Manassas Campus, Medical Education Campus, and Loudoun Campus to nearby Metro stations and public transportation hubs. The best part is that all NOVA faculty, staff, and students can ride the shuttle for FREE just by showing their NOVA Card (it is required to ride).

Please note the inter-campus route between Annandale and Alexandria campuses previously included in Route C has been discontinued due to low ridership. Route C now runs exclusively between Alexandria Campus and Braddock Road Metro station.

Real-time shuttle updates are available on the web at www.restonlimo.com/nova. You can also read about the new routes and check the schedule at www.nvcc.edu/shuttle. Can we expect to see you on the shuttle this semester?

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Daylight Savings – Sunday, March 9th

The-clock

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!

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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

 

Communicating

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!

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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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