Category Archives: Education

The journey to college and the documentary film “Personal Statement”

The transfer process (including  applications) can be intimidating! If you are unsure about the process, want to ask questions, learn about free resources to help you, or just meet other people (to remind yourself that you’re not the only one struggling along), head to NVCC-Woodbridge on Wed. March 25 at 2pm for a free screening of the documentary film Personal Statement. The event is free but requires registration. Follow the link below (please let me know if the link does not work):

Singular focus on what’s important

How many of us have a clean desk, uncluttered mind, and regular routine as we pursue projects?

In the 1880s, an Australian student named Richard Hodgson had the opportunity to study philosophy and literature at St. John’s College College, Cambridge (in the United Kingdom). It was a big investment in time and money to move from Australia to England, so he was determined to make the most of his chance. His recounted daily schedule:
He rose at 7:30am every morning, having the same breakfast of an egg, milk, bread and tea at 8am. For an hour he read. From 9am-noon, he wrote essays (his school assignments) or attended class. At noon, he ate a lunch of bread and tea. He then read until 3:45pm. He then played tennis before having a snack. Post-snack, it was additional workouts: weights, fencing, or boxing. His 9pm dinner consisted of bread, eggs, and tea. Following dinner, he read poetry until his 11:30pm bedtime.

In a letter to a friend, he commented on his routine, saying: “regularity for the organism is everything”

Of course, there was no radio, TV, or internet to distract him. But he avoided reading the daily newspaper or other magazines, never went to gambling parlors (where people played cards and socialized), bars (where other students often spent time), and coffee shops (which he presumably regarded as a waste of time or distracting).

How much of today’s life (supposedly better) takes us away from our important life goals? Today’s clutter include myriad food choices to select from (and the required time to pick up and wait for food), filling idle time with whatever is on the internet or streaming video (instead of devoting time to goal-directed reading). Mr. Hodgson never had time to be bored because his routine was dedicated to his singular goal of learning as much as possible. Note his dedication to physical fitness in the 1880s. Mens sana in corpore sano.

What is your academic (or other life) goal? How much time do you dedicate toward this goal on a daily basis? How much time is wasted on things that don’t help you accomplish your goal (video games, deciding what to eat, checking your phone)?

Recounted by Deborah Blum, professor of science journalism, University of Wisconsin

NIH lecture on Artificial Intelligence in Radiology

At a recent National Institutes of Health Grand Rounds Lecture in October, Curtis Langlotz, a Stanford Univ. medical doctor and bioinformatics researcher, gave a lecture detailing his work to bring artificial intelligence to radiology image interpretation. What was striking about his one-hour lecture is how his research not only  involves medical expertise, but also an in-depth knowledge of computer science and linguistics. Traditionally, experts have been viewed as individuals who know much about one specific area. To be on the cutting edge of research, one often has to be an expert in multiple areas. Of course, Prof. Langlotz probably didn’t expect that his work would take him into linguistics, but interdisciplinary work requires an open mind and frequently takes detours into new and exciting areas.

The future? A computer assisting doctors to be sure that small masses are detected before they become massive tumors!

Science Communication Seminar via Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science

Great opportunity to attend a web conference sponsored by the Alan Alda Center for Science Communication at Stony Brook University last week. Simply amazing to be selected for this online conference. The Alda Center brought together a group of people from all over the world who all communicate about science in their work (other professors, government researchers, consultants). We spent the session engaged in a role-playing improvisation session to stimulate brainstorming. We then fruitfully discussed how to better explain science topics to audiences with varying levels of expertise. Highly recommend the Alda Center’s programs to other science teachers and anyone else who explains science as part of their everyday work. Hope to be invited back for another conference!


No excuses: free online tutoring


The first months of the semester are a great time to get tutoring help before it’s too late. NVCC has partnered with one of the nation’s premier online tutoring companies, “” to provide freeunlimited tutoring for NVCC students. Convenient for your schedule (available 24/7) and integrated via Canvas with all of your college classes (you can pull down a menu and request a tutor who specifically familiar with your NVCC course). You can even submit written essays for editing (12- hour notice required). There is no excuse for not getting extra help while studying. Normally, this service would cost you thousands of dollars but is free to you. Why not set up a regular meeting with a tutor so that you won’t fall behind? Visit in your Canvas portal (use your laptop/desktop computer, tutoring classroom features are limited on your smartphone).

Paid Internship at USGS

Calling NVCC students! Have an interest in how science/technology, the law, and business development intersect? Maybe you didn’t know they intersect? The United States Geological Survey (USGS) based in Reston, VA is looking to hire you for a paid internship through the fall semester. The USGS is a federal agency that studies the natural resources of the US and encompasses four scientific disciplines: biology, hydrology, geography, and geology. Contact me via email for additional application information on this amazing opportunity.

Back to school! Optimize your studying!

Ease on into the fall semester with Tuesday afternoon study-tip sessions. Hear useful suggestions on how to improve your academic performance, meet ASC tutors, and enjoy light refreshments. Why just spend more hours studying, when studying smarter may be the answer? In AA-234, on Tuesdays this semester:

Sept 10: “Backwards” reading for better comprehension

Sept 17: Getting more out of lectures

Sept 24: Citations 101

Oct 1: Compelling transfer application essays

Oct 8: “Do it now” avoiding procrastination

Can’t make Tuesday afternoon? Evening sessions are on the schedule too, Thursdays at 5:30!

Scholarships…from a proven winner

Students should apply for scholarships. But the process is lengthy, filled with failed applications, and little formal guidance. For extremely practical tips from a young woman who completely financed her college education with scholarships, check out this book. Great to hear from a young person who actually did it and not an advisor speaking from a theoretical  perspective.

Paying for college…via scholarships

Common student concerns regarding paying for college can be addressed by the above book (and others) by Gen and Kelly Tanabe. Not only have they done great research but they also completely funded their own Harvard undergrad education via scholarships. Added benefit of winning scholarships? Great additions to your resumé to improve your transfer application. A super website to jumpstart your scholarship search: