Research Series: Refining Your Topic

Sometimes when we choose a topic to research, our topic is too broad. For instance, you’re assigned a 5 page research paper. This might seem like a lot, but once you start researching you will need to  narrow your topic to fill those 5 pages. With  a topic that is too broad, you could write an entire book with the amount of research you can find!

To begin, start with your broad topic and add extra elements to it. For example, the ‘Civil Rights Movement’ can be narrowed to the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960’s. To focus it even further you might look at the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960’s in Washington, D.C.

Picture demonstrating narrowing a topic


See how I’m adding these extra elements to focus my topic? First I add a time period and then I add a place. The extra elements are not limited to time frames and locations; sometimes they are specific people or themes.

Starting with a good topic will make researching a lot easier!  As always, if you need more help with your topic or research please contact the ELI library at

This Week at ELI!

Good Morning, Monday!MondayTransfer Sessions – Transfer Counselor, Kim Burkle has scheduled several schools to give presentations on the transfer policies. If you are interested in Grand Canyon University, Georgetown University, Strayer University or West Virginia University, check out the calendar and join in to learn more. It’s never too early to start thinking about your transfer plans.

Fall Fest at the Loudoun Campus! Join us at the Loudoun campus for fall festivities, food, prizes, and to learn more about taking classes at ELI! Will you be on campus? Stop by the LC Cafe Lounge between 11-2 to say hi!

Know Your Course Due Dates

One assumption that some online students make is that all ELI courses are self-paced. To that end, students may put off getting started and learn that their instructor has withdrawn them for not meeting course deadlines.  Don’t let this happen to you!DeadlineIt is very important to understand that all ELI courses have weekly or even mid-weekly due dates. There are critical enrollment dates, that include your First Assignment Due Date – requiring you to log into your Blackboard course site and complete your First Assignment by the due date. Failure to follow these guidelines may result in being dropped from the course without a tuition refund. Online courses may be 16 weeks, 12 weeks, 10 weeks, 8 weeks, 6 weeks, or 4 weeks in length; each course has specific start, refund, first assignment due date, withdrawal, and end date that you should be aware of when you select a particular course.

In addition to logging in and completing your first assignments (as referenced in your Quick Start Syllabus and Blackboard Course Site), ELI courses also have regular weekly assignment deadlines.

When taking an ELI course, it is important to understand that assignment due dates as well as test and quiz due dates come quickly. Due dates are firm and in some ELI courses, assignments and tests/quizzes are sometimes removed after the due date.

To be successful in your course:

Read through your course syllabus on the first day of class. Understand all the deadlines that apply to your course and record them in your planner.

Establish a Routine – Visit your Blackboard Course Site daily and read all of your emails and announcements.

Make Note of your Course Deadlines, and turn your assignments in on time.

If possible, take your test prior to the testing deadline—you never know what might come up at the last minute!

To ensure that you understand the ELI course deadlines, please review your course specific critical course deadlines and stay on top of weekly assignments.

Stay Healthy and Safe This Fall

3 pumpkins on fence

Fall is here! Now is a great time  to start or maintain healthy habits. Here are a few tips to help you get started:

  1.  Be proactive about the flu. Here are some great tips about flu prevention.
  2. Prepare for cold weather.
  3. Have a happy and safe Halloween.
  4. Start a fitness routine.

For more tips on fall health and safety, visit the CDC website.

If you are interested in learning more about the Ebola virus, please visit NVCC’s library guide.

October is ELI’s Transfer Awareness Month!

Did you miss the transfer planning webinars this month? If so, you can request a recording of this webinar at ELI’s webinars page.

More events have been scheduled for this month. You can attend the Transfer Q&A this Thursday, October 16th from 12 to 1pm. You can also join us for the Game of Transfer and win a prize on October 30th from 12 to 1pm. Register via the webinars page.

Check out the transfer information sessions we have scheduled too! If you can show you attended three or more of these sessions, you will earn extra points at the Game of Transfer. Looks for upcoming sessions on ELI’s calendar.

Questions? Email Kim Burkle at

Fall Fun and Relaxation in Virginia

NOVA Fall Break is October 13 & 14 – College Offices Open, but no on-campus instructional classes will be held. During fall break, your online courses may have assignments due during this period – make sure you are aware of all your course dates. Online students may experience some delay in email response from faculty during the Fall Break period.

If you live in the Virginia area and need a break to get away and enjoy the beauty of the skyline, bursting with autumn colors, click here to visit the Fall in Virginia website. Fall FoliageThis website provides all the information you could possibly need to explore fall in Virginia. You will find a plethora of recommendations for the best scenic drives, family getaways, romantic getaways, fall festival, corn mazes, pumpkin patches and even a Fall Foliage Hotline (1.800.424.LOVE).  There is also a search engine to help you find events taking place by area.  You will even find meters on this website showing the peak time the leaves are turning by area!!

According to the meter on the Fall in Virginia website, this will be a peak weekend to enjoy the colors in the mountain areas of Virginia.  This is an outstanding website to locate just about any fall fun you could desire.  Explore this website today and plan your day to relax, de-stress, and enjoy the beauty of autumn!

Connect with your Success Coach Today!

As an ELI student, you have access to a plethora of resources to promote your success.  From free online tutoring, to online workshops, webinars blogs and more; ELI offers unlimited resources to promote your success.  In addition to these and other resources, you also have access to a personal success coach!  Your success coach is available to promote your goals and maximize your learning experience at ELI.

If you are experiencing course concerns or struggles, your coach is here to listen to your concerns and support you without judgment or criticism – he or she is your personal advocate.  Your coach will create a respectful and collaborative partnership from the initial communication. Using our resources and services, success coaches will suggest innovative strategies, and solutions to provide easy access to resources, referrals and information that will promote a positive academic experience

Sometimes students consult their coach if they are experiencing challenges juggling their personal responsibilities, college, work and family.  Other students may call seeking support as a first time college student in need of assistance with test taking skills, time management and transitioning to college life.  Many students reach out seeking academic resources to complement their study routine or if they have an emergency situation and are uncomfortable approaching their instructor.

Whatever the problem, your Success Coach will take the time to listen beyond your concerns/questions to hear your needs. Sometimes a struggle is as easy as getting a little more information to fully understand the need. Many times students contact a coach presenting a struggle that seems overwhelming but the real concern is often something else that can be easily addressed with professional assistance and guidance.

When you are struggling, looking for resources to promote your learning experience, have questions or concerns, you are encouraged to connect with your coach. Your coach will be there to serve as your advocate, empower you and promote your success.  For more information, please email your name and student ID to or call 703.764.5076.

Scholarships for DREAMers

NOVA is in the process of partnering with The Dream.US, an organization that promotes access to higher education for Dreamers.  Dream ActThrough this partnership, ten NOVA Dream.US scholars will be selected by Scholarship America each year, and hosted at NOVA with substantial scholarships and cohort programming.  Pathway to the Baccalaureate’s Monica Gomez, who is an expert in supporting this population, will coordinate the campus and cohort activities and serve as academic advisor for these NOVA scholars.  The scholarship deadline is October 26, so we need to get the word out quickly.

Transfer Awareness Month

October is Transfer Awareness Month at ELI! Join ELI Counselor, Kim Burkle, for some upcoming Transfer Events to help you prepare your transfer plan!

Transfer Planning Webinar: Thursday, October 9, at 6pm!

Learn about the basics of transfer planning, Guaranteed Admission Agreements, Articulation Agreements, and Transfer Guides. There will also be a web tour of NOVA’s transfer website.

Virtual Transfer Q&A: October 16, at 12pm

Do you have questions about transferring? Chat live with a transfer counselor.

Game of Transfer: October 30, at 12pm

Think you know everything there is about transfer planning? Test your knowledge with the Game of Transfer! Win prizes!

kim*If you have questions about any of the events, please contact Kim Burkle,

*All events are approximately one hour in length.

*Click on the date/time for more information and to register for each specific event. We look forward to “seeing” you online!