Top 5 student budget-friendly vacations

These are my top 5 destinations for the young professional on the move. Most of these vacation getaways won’t break the bank, as we know most newly employed graduates and young professionals have yet to begin divesting completely into their company’s 401k program. Check my top 5, let me know what your top 5 destinations are for budget-friendly vacationers.Miami skyline from the airplane

  1. San Jose, Puerto Rico, U.S. – NO PASSPORT REQUIRED. This island state is actually a territory of the U.S., so no passports are needed and U.S. dollars are accepted. The ‘State’ language is Spanish, while American English is widely spoken. The American citizens here are always happy to see there brothers and sisters from stateside.
  2. Punta Cana, Dominican Republic (D.R.) – Coming in at number two, is the beautiful half-island nation of D.R. which shares is western border with Haiti. Off the beaten path are towns such as Santiago and Boca Chica, where tourists are greatly appreciated and can dance into the wee hours of the morning. Hotels in the area range from $40-80 a night with no reservation. An all-inclusive 5 days, 4 night stay here will run you around $825 on the budget side and passports are required.
  3. Various Mexico Destinations – Its Mexico. With it being a mainstay in American college culture as a destination for spring break. Almost any location in Mexico (outside of violent drug corridors) is a great place to spend on a budget vacation.
  4. San Jose, Costa Rica – This place is super budget-friendly. I have already traveled while still on active duty in the military. The people, the culture, and the weather will have you wanting more. There are beautiful beaches on both the Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea. Costa Rica is situated between the once infamous Nicaragua (General Noriega) to the North and Panama to the South. This Central American country also has a lush rain forest in the highlands.
  5. Port-Au-Prince, Haiti – This rounds out the top 5 vacation getaways for young professionals who are on a limited budget. If an individual is willing to brave travel to a country which as a limited infrastructure you will more than double your entertainment investment. The people are friendly and the culture is rich. Once I relocate my passport, I will be sure to book a vacation to Haiti.

These vacation getaways are for individuals on a budget but are also tired of the normal Miami Beaches, N.C. / S.C. Beaches, Las Vegas, etc. Get out there and explore the world before you no longer desire to.

*Pricing information credited to Priceline and Travelocity.

Article by ELI Student, Mikaal Pratt

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Preparing for Exams

As you are preparing for final exams in your online courses, the ELI Student Success Coaches have complied a list of resources to help you as you prepare. If you have questions or would benefit from additional strategies, reach out to an ELI Success Coach today by calling 703.323.3347 or From test taking strategies to time management, they are here to answer your questions and help you access resources that will empower you to navigate the semester and pave your way to a successful academic journey.

Does your heart start pounding when a test is placed in front of you? Do you know the material but your mind goes blank? These are just a few of the common challenges students face when taking a test. To address these common fears, ELI offers a wide variety of resources that will empower you and promote your testing success.

Take a moment now and explore the following resources to promote your way to an ‘A’.Computer screen

If you learn best hearing or speaking (auditory learner), you will welcome the workshops offered through Student Lingo. These free workshops are presented online by a facilitator in an engaging format. Each workshop is about 30 minutes use the link above to access the following workshops:

If you prefer to read (visual learner) the short ELife Blog posts, referenced below are just for you! These ELife Blog posts referenced below, offer timely tips to help you organize and prepare for your next test:

If you prefer to be actively involved and busy as you learn (kinesthetic learner) you may enjoy the following study methods:

  • Quizlet or Study Stack Apps: Take your practice tests and review your flash cards on the go using these apps which will enable you to create flash cards along with practice tests and quizzes.
  • If you prefer, consider the tried and true flash cards made from index cards. This allows kinesthetic learners to flip around the cards, write notes and review at any location, walking, standing or sitting (as with an app). Just flip the cards while you are studying and walk around as you review. Write cues on the cards to help you remember. You can even be creative and develop a game using your flashcards.

If memory/recall is a challenge when studying for your tests, consider exploring the ELife Blogs highlighted below which are focused on strategies to trigger memory:

Stress and anxiety is another common challenge many students experience when testing. To combat your stress, click here to view a short video on stress, facilitated by ELI’s PED instructor, Dr. Gamal Aboshadi. It will provide a better understanding of stress and empower you with valuable techniques to promote relaxation as you study and prepare to go to the testing center.

No matter what your learning style, as you plan for success on your next test, be sure to take time to put these resources into action!

Written by Adrienne, ELI Student Success Coach

NOVA Student Email Address

NOVA students are required to use their NOVA email ( when communicating with the college – Faculty, Staff, Financial Aid, Advisor, etc.  The college sends important information, updates, and reminders  to students via their NOVA/VCCS email address.  Man holding mobile smart phone with message on its screenAccess your student email by logging into MyNOVA and clicking on the Gmail tab. Get into the habit as you are checking Blackboard, to check your student email account.

Failing to check your email on a regular basis may result in missing important communication to include course and NOVA reminders/updates.

Information regarding your NOVA email account can be found on NOVA’s website.

If you experience difficulty accessing your MyNOVA account, please contact the IT Help Desk (phone, email, live chat can be found on their website).

Have you checked your NOVA email today? If not, check it!

Financial Aid is for required courses

If the course is not required for degree completion, it cannot be included in the student’s enrollment status for financial aid, and we cannot award Title IV or state funds to pay for the course. If you need to change or update your program in your account, contact your Faculty Advisor or ELI Counselors.

Please check course eligibility as soon you register for your classes.

Login to MyNova > SIS > Student Center

Student will be notified via the message center.FACA1Student can view the course eligibility below

FACA2The ineligible course will have a red X; a yellow question mark means the course has not yet been evaluated for eligibility.

FACA3Student can see the reasonFACA4


Can be viewed via the mobile appFACA5

FACA6FACA7Questions about your Financial Aid? Contact them by phone, live chat, or email through the Student Support Center.

FA Support Center

Plan ahead to use Financial Aid for course materials

Students with financial aid awards for Fall 2016 can purchase textbooks and required course materials against their excess financial aid – either online or in campus bookstores—from August 8, 2016 through September 8, 2016, the 16-week (term) census date.  A second book purchase period will be open for students who still have anticipated aid from two weeks before the second 8-week term through that term census date, October 5 through October 28.

Students wishing to purchase books on-line must complete and sign the Bookstore Authorization E-Form, via the Financial Aid Dashboard, prior to completing a purchase. Students enrolled or planning to enroll in later starting classes who desire to use their financial aid to purchase books must purchase during one of the two purchase periods; no additional accommodations will be made.  The financial aid process must be complete and anticipated aid must be enough to cover tuition, fees and books.  Files can have no negative holds.

First Book Purchase Period

  • First day to purchase books/supplies using financial aid: August 8, 2016
  • Last day to purchase books/supplies using financial aid: September 8, 2016

Second Book Purchase Period (for students with remaining anticipated aid)

  • First day to purchase books/supplies using financial aid: October 5, 2016
  • Last day to purchase books/supplies using financial aid: October 28, 2016

You may place your on-line order 24 hours after completing the authorization e-form or on the first business day after completing the e-form, if later.

Questions about your Financial Aid award? Contact them by phone, live chat, or email through the Student Support Center.

FA Support Center

Test Taking Strategies

To enhance your test taking skills and get that ‘A’, take a moment to review the common test taking errors and tips referenced below.    testing pic
Read the Instructions/Questions Carefully: You have probably heard this tip a thousand times but failure to read the instructions and each question carefully can result in careless errors. Do not skim—read thoroughly and carefully. Sometimes, wrong answers can be the result of skipping over important directions.

Label Your Test: Make sure your name and student ID are on the test along with any other information required by the instructor or testing center. You would be surprised at how many students, anxious to get started, forget to put their name on the test or the Scantron! Failure to include your name will most likely result in a zero!!

Sequence Errors: Concept errors such as misunderstanding a principle involved in solving the problem or steps involved in the process can create problems in answering the question correctly. When studying, take time to review your lecture notes and textbook carefully to ensure you follow the proper sequence is answering the question. (Use flash cards and/or mnemonics when studying, to help remember and recall the order.)

Missing Problems in the Test: If you are anxious and/or have a tendency to rush, you may miss problems or skip a step. If you are confused on a question, circle it and come back to it later. If you have a tendency to skip the last step or part of a question, be sure to look at this part of the problem first. Always remember to review your test before turning it in!

Spending too Much Time on One Question: If you are spending too much time on one question, circle it, and refer back to it after you have completed the other questions (as you move forward through the test – other questions may prompt you to remember the answer to the question that stumped you). If you are taking a timed test, you may want to consider wearing a watch (testing centers do not allow cell phones at your testing station).

Recording the Incorrect Answer: Accidentally, copying the wrong answer from your scratch paper to the actual test can result in a disaster. To avoid this, strategically plan to compare your answer on the scratch paper with the one on the test.

Review your Answers: Careless mistakes such as forgetting to add two numbers in a long math problem, skipping steps or accidentally missing a question, can result in zero credit or a loss of points. To protect yourself against this common error, after completing each question/problem, review your answers thoroughly.

Preparing for Future Quizzes/Tests: Once you have received your quiz/test back, be sure to review it and look up every question that you missed.  Determine the reason why you missed the question and learn from it so you will understand the concept(s) and be able to apply the correct information on your next exam.

If you have questions or would benefit from additional strategies, reach out to an ELI Success Coach today by calling 703.323.3347 or From test taking strategies to time management, we are here to answer your questions and help you access resources that will empower you to navigate the semester and pave your way to a successful academic journey.

Tips for Remembering

MemoryDo you have trouble remembering people’s names after you meet them? Are you wondering how in the world you are going to remember all of the terms for your upcoming test?

By using some simple techniques you can help improve your memory. Here are some tricks:


  1. Learn to understand the information you must remember.  Understanding the information will allow you to recall the information easily.
  2. Form associations: between the information you must remember and an object, body part, place, or emotion.
  3. Recite or rewrite the information you must remember several times.
  4. If you must remember a large body of information, try to break the information into smaller pieces.  Then work on remembering the information in each category separately.
  5. Mentally organize the information you must remember.  It is easier to remember information that is organized than to remember information that seems to be scattered all over the place.
  6. Try to bring a personal touch to the information you must remember.  Relating the information to something about you will make it easier to remember.
  7. Form a mental image of what you need to remember. Pictures are powerful tools for remembering.
  8. Apply what you need to remember. For example, if you are trying to remember the meanings of new vocabulary words, use the words when you speak or write.
  9. Test yourself.  By creating sample tests for yourself or creating flash card.
  10. Try to make remembering a fun activity by creating games using the information you must remember.

This post was modified from by the ELI Success Coaches. If you have questions or would benefit from additional strategies, reach out to an ELI Success Coach today by calling 703.323.3347 or From test taking strategies to time management, we are here to answer your questions and help you access resources that will empower you to navigate the semester and pave your way to a successful academic journey.

Working through Test Anxiety

Tests have a way of working people up into a serious frenzy. The stakes are much higher around exam time and the pressure becomes almost palpable without the right preparation. There are a number of strategies to help you prepare yourself mentally and physically for an upcoming exam and lower the anxiety around test-taking. Here are some quick tips that may be useful for you in the future:

Change how you view the test. Often our performance is impacted by our perception of the task at hand; if you look at the test as an impending doom, you will respond to it that way. You can conquer anything and you will not be defeated by a little test J. First things first, think of it as an “assignment” (because that’s essentially what it is, it just covers more course material) to take away some of its fear factor.

Create a simulated testing experience for studying. Try to create a studying environment that is as close to the actual testing environment as possible to get used to what taking the exam will really be like on exam day. How can you do this? Try these simple strategies:

If taking the exam in a testing center

Visit the center ahead of time to observe the atmosphere. Is there a lot of people, will you be sitting next to someone, is it cold in the room, etc.? Making note of these things will help you recreate the setting at home when studying.

Try doing practice tests with a timer in front of you to make it easier to perform with a timer when you take the exam. Exams in the testing center are often timed and the timer appears as a countdown on the computer screen during the exam.

If using ProctorU

Do all studying in the spot where you will be taking the test on exam day. This can help your memory because the environment will serve as a cue to help you recall information.

Create practice tests. Look at the textbook publisher’s website to create practice tests. You can also check out Flashcards+ and Quizlet to make flashcards to help you study.

Practice relaxation techniques before and during the exam. The more relaxed you are, the more likely you are to recall the information you’ve studied. On the day of the exam, check out the Omvana app for quick meditation exercises, listen to your favorite song and dance to it to release any physical discomfort (really get into it!), or anything else that calms you. Here is a strategy you can try when taking the “assignment”:

Take relaxation breaks when you hit benchmarks on the exam. For instance, once you have completed three questions/problems/ scenarios, pause, sit up straight with a soft smile on your face, and close your eyes. Breathe deeply and slowly rotate your head in complete circles in both directions. Rotate your shoulders to the front in slow circles and again in the opposite direction. Do as many rotations as necessary. Return to the “assignment” when you feel calmer. You can do this exercise after any number of questions you choose and as often as you need.

Do not worry about those around you; do whatever you need to do to take care of yourself. If at any time during the test you feel tense, return to the relaxation exercise. Pace yourself and take problems one at a time; do not jump or look ahead. And remember, you always know more than you think you do! You will do great! Namaste.

Written by ELI Success Coach, Jennifer. If you have questions or would benefit from additional strategies, reach out to an ELI Success Coach today by calling 703.323.3347 or From test taking strategies to time management, we are here to answer your questions and help you access resources that will empower you to navigate the semester and pave your way to a successful academic journey.

Trick your Memory into Remembering!

Memory TricksWith mid-term or final exams right around the corner, you may be struggling to remember all of the terms you have learned this term. Or, you may be putting off studying for your exam because you can’t remember all the details.

Perhaps some of these memory tricks from Reader’s Digest will help you remember and prepare for your exams.

1. Pay Attention – When you see or read something you are going to need to remember.

2. Visualize It

3. Create Memorable Associations – Mentally associate a person or thing with another person or thing you know of with a similar name.

4. Make Notes – For example, when you are trying to remember someone’s name, make notes on the back of business card specifying what they looked like.

5. Retracing the Track(s) – Mentally or physically.

6. Turn it Into a Routine – e.g. Every time you think of the term ‘Acute’, mentally associate it with a ‘cute little girl’.

7. Sing It – Create a corny song if you have to.

8. Try Mnemonic Devices – e.g. ROY G BIV

9. Use Your Body – Remember multiple things according to major body parts. Start at your feet and work your way up. For example, if you have to remember 5 types of stones, think: Feet = Flagstone, Legs = Limestone, Torso = Terazzo, Arms = Agglomerate, & Face = Fossilstone.

10. Go Roman – Using rooms of association. Associate rooms in your house to what you need to memorize.

11. Rhyme It

12. Practice your ABCs – If you are drawing a blank, say the alphabet aloud or in your head. When you get to the first letter of the word you are trying to recall, it should dawn on you.

13. Read it, Type it, Say it, Hear it – The more interactive you get with the material, the more you will be able to recall.

14. Color Coordinate – Use hi-liters, colored flash cards, etc. Colors are mind triggers.

15. Make a Mental Map – Imagine an intersection, place a word, fact or number on each street corner.

Post provided by ELI Student Success Coaches. If you have questions or would benefit from additional strategies, reach out to an ELI Success Coach today by calling 703.323.3347 or From test taking strategies to time management, we are here to answer your questions and help you access resources that will empower you to navigate the semester and pave your way to a successful academic journey.

Plan your Fall Schedule!

Thinking about an online class for Fall 2016? Fall Registration is open for all students. The online catalog is available in NOVAConnect now – search the online catalog to see what options you have for online courses.

ELI offers courses that begin on August 22, September 12, 26 or later. Enroll today!

Computer screenReview & Understand your NOVAConnect Account

Plan ahead – Have any holds? Need to update your contact information? Request a final transcript or view your final grades? Run your advising report before working with your advisor? Log into your Student Center account (in NOVAConnect) for more information.

Be cleared of any pre-requisites (if needed)

If you are attempting to enroll in a course at NOVA for which you believe you have successfully completed (a grade of “C“ or higher) the required pre-requisite(s) at another regionally accredited institution, you will need to submit the Visiting/Transient Student Form 125-348E  e-form found on the Visiting and Transient Student webpage.  (you will need your VCCS login credentials to access the form). Any questions? Reach out to a Virtual Advisor at

Get Ready to Start your courses

Each course has a course site in Blackboard. Students are given access to the course specific link on the first day the course is scheduled to begin. Once you have access to your course in Blackboard, make sure to thoroughly review the course syllabus and course calendar (Overview of Assignments) to map out a plan for the course. Summer courses run at an accelerated pace, so make sure you plan ahead and stay on track.

Understand online learning through ELI

Participate in the live ELI Orientation webinar to get off to a strong start. This one hour live online instructor session will focus on getting started in your courses, navigating your Blackboard course site, and identifying tips for success and student support services. The ELI Orientation is highly recommended for students who are new to online learning. Register or Request a Recording Today!

Make sure you know your course start date and critical enrollment dates! Don’t miss your first assignment due date!

If you have questions about making your tuition payment, visit NOVA’s payment information for details. You can also call the ELI Hotline at 703-323-3347 for assistance.

Take the Smarter Measure assessment to see how your personal learning styles will work with online courses.

Establish a Routine! All online courses, regardless of session length, are based on the full 16-week course material, 12 and 8 week courses will move at an accelerated pace.

If you need assistance with your course selection, ELI Counselors can be reached at,