Are Your Career Plans in FOCUS?

As you plan your schedule for your next semester, prepare to transfer, or get ready to begin a new job take a moment to focus on your career development.  Are you attending NOVA to pursue a certificate or degree, but unsure about what career options might be available to you? Have you decided on a major, but have difficulty answering the question – “What can I do with a major in _____? Do you need to fine tune your skills or add to your skill set in preparation for a career change? Learn more about career options by utilizing FOCUS 2, an online interactive self-guided career and education planning system that can help you:

  • Select a program/major based on your interests and aspirations
  •  Discover occupations matching your personal preferences and attributes
  • Map out your career plans, present and future
  • Make informed career decisions

FOCUS 2 is free for NOVA students.   Learn more about and access the system at NOVA’s Career Services website.

Also check ELI’s webinar schedule for offerings of the Focus on Your Career Planning webinar.  This 45 minute webinar will introduce students to FOCUS 2 and provide an overview of the career planning process.

Need some help?  Have a question?  Contact Christy Jensen, ELI Career Counselor, at

Tuition Deadline

Heads up! If you registered for spring 2017 courses and haven’t submitted your tuition payment or have your financial aid in place, you must do so by 5pm Tuesday, December 13 to avoid being dropped from your courses! If you have questions about payment, visit NOVA’s payment information for details. You can also call the ELI Hotline at 703-323-3347 for assistance.

Of course, there’s still plenty of time to register for spring semester courses if you haven’t done so already! ELI’s first spring session begins on Monday, January 9 and for many courses, additional sections are offered starting January 23, 30, or later. Check the full list of courses here.

Just remember, if you register for spring courses on or after Tuesday, December 13, your payment is due by 5 p.m. the following business day.

For more information about Financial Aid at NOVA, you can visit the Financial Aid Support Center or review the Financial Aid Video.

New Student Orientation for Adult Learners

Are you an adult learner starting courses this spring? Do you have questions about getting started at NOVA, enrolling in courses, or support resources/services available to you both virtually and on-campus. Join us for the virtual New Student Orientation for Adult Learners on Tuesday, December 6 from 12:15-1:15 pm.

web meeting 2Extended Learning Institute (ELI)

Time: 12:15 – 1:15 pm

Date: Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Location: Online (Once you register below, you will be sent a link to join the session to the email you used when registering for the session)

Registration: To best support your successful transition and integration into college life, you are invited to attend a New Student Orientation for Adult Learners. Please click here to register.

Who are Adult Learners?

  • Students who are 25 and older.
  • Students transferring into NOVA from another college/university.
  • Students returning to college after a leave of absence.

Interview Time Is Show Time

Want to tell a potential employer that you’re creative? A problem solver? Flexible?

Instead of describing yourself as a “self-starter,” tell a story about how you took action when you saw an issue that needed to be fixed.

Don’t say you are “flexible”—tell the hiring manager about a change in your job (or schoolwork demands) and what you did to deal with the change.

Well-worn phrases won’t help you get the job, but concrete examples will!

Don’t say

The story you need to tell

Highly qualified Highlight your accomplishments in previous jobs. Emphasize your specific skills and note any certifications you have earned.
Hard worker Explain exactly how you’ve gone the extra mile for your job. For instance, did you regularly meet tough deadlines, handle a high volume of projects, or tackle tasks outside your job description?
Team player Provide examples of how you worked with colleagues or individuals in other departments to meet an objective or complete a project.
Problem solver Highlight a difficult situation you encountered and how you handled it.
Flexible Describe how you responded to a major change at work (or in your schoolwork) or dealt with the unpredictable aspects of your job.
People person Can you offer examples of your strong communication skills? Can you describe how you’ve worked with co-workers and customers?
Self-starter What can you contribute immediately to the company or to the department you work in? Describe how you took action when you saw an issue that needed to be fixed.


Courtesy of the National Association of Colleges and Employers.

How is online learning different from on-campus courses?

In honor of our recent celebration of National Distance Learning Week, let’s talk about how online learning is different from on-campus courses!

Are you considering ELI as an option for a spring course? We want to point out some of the differences between online and on-campus courses.

  • Format
  • Technology
  • Time Required

Although online learning and on-campus courses cover the same content, the format is different. ELI courses are flexible, with stated deadlines, meaning, you can work on your course at any point throughout the week, but will need to meet weekly or even mid-weekly due dates. ELI requires proctored exams to be completed within the stated course deadlines. Some courses may also be accelerated with the instructor’s permission.

Technology provides content and interaction. ELI courses use Blackboard as the course management system to communicate and facilitate class discussions. Students are required to use their VCCS student email account to communicate with the instructor.

Online learning courses usually require at least as much time as you would spend taking a campus-based course. You should plan to study at least 2-3 hours a week for each credit. In other words, for a 16-week, three-credit course, you would study 6-9 hours per week. For 12 or 8-week courses, more time would need to be scheduled to complete your requirements. When you compare this time with what you spend in class and studying outside of class, it is about the same.

Here is a chart that illustrates the general amount of time per week you should expect to study per credit hour based on the course length. For example, if you enroll in an 8-week, 3-credit class, you can expect to spend 12-18 hours per week studying for this class. In general, the shorter the class length (8-, 12-, or 16-week), the more hours of study time you can expect to spend per week per credit. (Click on chart to enlarge picture)nullWe encourage you to participate in an ELI Orientation to help as you are getting started in your first online course. You can view short videos from Blackboard to review how to submit an assignment, post on discussion board, check grades, etc.

For more information about getting started at ELI, please email or call 703.764.5076. Have a question, but not sure who to ask? Start with a Success Coach!

Marketing Your Resume to Employers

Hiring managers get flooded with resumes for job openings. How can you ensure your resume will be looked at? Take some advice from hiring managers:

  • Do the basics.
  • Proofread for spelling, grammar, and tone. (Ask friends to proofread, too.)
  • Use a simple, easy-to-read typeface.
  • Follow instructions in the job posting. If the employer asks for information—such as references or writing samples—provide it.
  • If you’re applying by e-mail, your cover letter should be contained in the e-mail. If you’re applying online and there’s no space indicated for a cover letter, put your cover letter in the comments section.
  • Don’t let the informality of e-mail and text correspondence seep into your communications—whether e-mailed, online, or written—with potential employers.
  • Organize your resume for the employer—Organize your resume information in a logical fashion. Keep descriptions clear and to the point. As possible, tailor your resume to the job and employer, emphasizing skills, experiences, abilities, and qualifications that match the job description.
  • Customize your response—Address the hiring manager directly, if possible, and include the name of the company and the position for which it is hiring in your cover letter/e-mail response.
  • Make it easy for the hiring manager—Use your name and the word “resume” in the e-mail subject line so it’s easy to identify.
  • Focus on the skills and abilities you can bring to the employer, not what you want from the job—In your cover letter, answer the questions: What can you do to make the hiring manager’s life easier? What can you do to help the company? This is your opportunity to market yourself and stand out from the other candidates. Your resume should support that.
  • Be professional—Use a professional-sounding e-mail address or voice mail/answering machine message.

Courtesy of the National Association of Colleges and Employers.

Happy Thanksgiving

Northern Virginia Community College will be closed later this week for the Thanksgiving Holiday. Offices close Wednesday, November 23 at noon and will reopen on Monday, November 28 at 8:00 am.  This includes testing centers! Plan ahead!  Happy Thanksgiving

Digital Open Courses

Have you started thinking about your schedule for next semester? Spring  registration is currently open for all students! Are you interested in taking a course that doesn’t require you to purchase any textbooks or course materials? A Digital Open ELI course might be right for you!

Mobility conceptELI offers several online courses that do not require students to purchase textbooks or other course materials. Digital Open courses use free online material and Open Educational Resources (OER) instead of textbooks or purchased course materials. You can try one or two Digital Open courses, or even complete an entire AS degree track. Instead of requiring traditional textbooks, all readings and materials used in the courses will be available to students free of charge online as OER, or through NOVA’s library resources.

Are you ready try one of ELI’s Digital Open courses? Just look for the notification in the notes section in the online schedule of classes stating: This is a digital open course. No textbook purchase required.

Save time and money with a Digital Open course at ELI! For more information about registering for one of ELI’s Digital Open courses, contact the ELI Success Coaches at or 703.323.3347.

Where Will Your Path Lead? (Part 3)

This article is part three in a three part series that provides readers with an overview of the career development process designed to help you identify your path and continue on your journey.

Last week exploring careers and making decisions was discussed.  This week the focus is on finding employment and gaining practical experience.

Step Four: Finding Employment (also Gaining Practical Experience)

Are you trying to find any job or a job that is a good fit for you?  While you are in college have you considered obtaining an internship to gain practical experience in a field of interest?  Developing job search skills including identifying job leads, creating a strong resume, preparing for interviews, and networking will help you find and obtain a job or internship.

One resource to try now – NOVA’s College Central Network

This tool includes a database of current, full-time, part-time, and contractual jobs as well as internships posted by employers interested in hiring NOVA students.  This resource also includes career articles written by industry professionals, career videos, and career advice podcasts to help you develop and strengthen your job search skills.

NOVA’s Career Counselors are available to assist you with each step of the career development process.

Article by Christy Jensen-NOVA Academic/Career Counselor.

November is National Career Development Month.  Check NOVA’s Career Services website for information about programs being offered virtually and across the College in support of NCDM.

This week at ELI!

Open registration for all students begins today, Monday, November 14! Are you thinking about an online course for Spring 2017 term? The online catalog is available in NOVAConnect – search the online catalog to see what options you have for online courses.

ELI offers courses that begin on January 9, 23, 30, February 20 and March 13! Review the steps for our prepare for your spring semester blog post to help you plan ahead to enroll on-time!

Not sure if online learning is right for you? Take the SmarterMeasure assessment to help you gauge your readiness!

Join ELI Career Counselors Wednesday, November 16 from 12:15 pm – 1:00 pm for the Finding a Job or Internship Webinar. This 45 minute webinar will focus on basic strategies for finding a job or internship. Topics covered will include creating a plan, identifying sources of job/internship leads, and resume, cover letter, and interview basics. Register Today!

Join our Virtual Student Union – ELI’s VSU has a new look! Are you taking online classes and looking to connect with other students outside of a classroom setting? Check out our Virtual Student Union or VSU. This is an engagement hub where ELI students have access to create a profile, join discussion forums and connect with other students. In celebration of our new site launch, students will be eligible for raffle prizes once they create an account and interact on the site. Drawings will be done weekly and monthly through the fall semester. Join now!

Engage in your Community! Did you miss our Community Involvement Fair last year? Check out our community volunteer booklet to learn more about the variety of non-profits participating and volunteer opportunities available: Community Volunteer Booklet. Email us at and tell us where and when you are volunteering and we will send you a FREE NOVA Student Life T-shirt to wear!

Financial Avenue – Financial Literacy Contest – Twenty $100 NOVA bookstore gift cards towards educational costs at NOVA will be given-away throughout the 2016‐2017 academic year to randomly selected students ELI who successfully complete Financial Avenue web‐based financial literacy modules! For more information visit Financial Aid’s Financial Literacy Blog. Official contest rules and registration to participate can be found here.

Learn more on the ELIfe Student Blog. Want to write for the ELI Student Blog? Share your story? Connect with your peers? Send us a writing sample to get started. Email for more information.

The NOVA ELI Student Blog