Setting the Pace for an Online Course

Online courses at NOVA are quite unique, in that, there is no scheduled meeting time for your classes and students set their own schedule for logging in, participating, and studying. Students can log into the course at any time and learn the course material at their own speed from week to week. The vast majority of NOVA’s online classes have weekly assignment due dates and all have a minimum of two proctored exams. In light of this, there is a more pronounced need to establish great time management strategies to ensure your success in the course. See below for tips for pacing yourself through your NOVA Online course:

Follow the course’s outlined schedule. Instructors map out which lessons will be covered from week to week as a guide at the beginning of the semester. Following this schedule will ensure that you cover all material in time for exams. Be sure to stay on schedule with all readings, videos, and other instructional material to avoid falling behind.

Set a schedule for starting and submitting assignments. Assignments are typically posted at the beginning of the semester and due on a weekly basis. To stay on track with all assignments:

-Make a calendar of all of your assignments due dates; construct a paper calendar, use a planner, use your phone, etc.

-Designate certain days of the week for starting assignments, editing assignments, and submitting them.

-Do not wait until the night it is due to start the assignment, if you can help it. Starting assignments early allows for time to fix technology problems, to ask instructors questions about the assignments, and to receive responses to inquiries in a timely manner.

Schedule class time as if you were in a physical class. It is easy to forget about a class when you do not have to come to campus to sit in a classroom. Therefore, setting aside specific “class time” is important. Devote at least 2-3 hours per week for each credit you take; for example, a 3 credit course calls for at least 6 hours a week of studying.

Log into the course frequently. This is the instructor’s way of knowing that you are active in the course. Logging into the course regularly ensures that you do not miss any important instructor announcements, assignment instruction changes, changes in due dates, etc. Being inactive can lead to you being dropped from the course.

For more tips on time management and staying on track in your courses, reach out to our NOVA Online Student Success Coach team at 703-764-5076 or

Locating and Applying for Internships


Original article by Amy Marie Charland and Mary Ann Lawson. Modified by Christy Jensen. Courtesy of the National Association of Colleges and Employers.

An internship allows you to test your career objectives, helps you identify your talents, and directs you toward an appropriate career, while helping you acquire essential practical and professional skills you need in the business world. It also lets you see how well you fit into a specific company’s culture. But finding an internship takes some preparation. Before setting out to find an internship, ask yourself these questions:

  • Where do I want to do an internship? My hometown? Out-of-state?
  • What type of work would I like to do? In what field?
  • What type of organization would I like to do an internship for?
  • What do I want to gain from an internship? What specific skills or experiences do I want to acquire?

Locating opportunities

After you’ve answered these questions, you’re ready to start searching for internships. Here are some suggestions for locating internship opportunities:

  • Check out College Central Network (CCN) – NOVA’s online internship and job database for students.   Through the database you can learn about internship opportunities with local companies as well as connect to a national internship board.  Did you know it may be possible to earn college credit for an internship?   Visit this website to learn more.
  • Attend job fairs. Employers often use fairs to identify students for internships as well as for full-time employment.  View the “Upcoming Events and Programs” and the “Announcements” sections of CCN to learn about upcoming, local job fairs.
  • Network. Talk with friends, family, co-workers, supervisors, instructors, administrators, and professionals in your field of study, and let them know you are searching for an internship.

Applying for an internship

Each employer has its own application process. Does the company want you to apply online? What is the deadline? What will the employer need from you to make your application complete? Start the process early. Here are a few tips to get you started:

  • Create your resume.
  • Write a cover letter, if required.
  • Utilize the resume builder and Job Search Kit in CCN to create your resume and cover letter.
  • Work with a NOVA career counselor to discuss internship opportunities, have your resume and cover letter critiqued, and discuss tips and strategies for getting the most out of an internship.

Choosing an internship

Your final task is to select the internship opportunity that is the best match for you. Review your goals for doing an internship and choose the opportunity that best meets those goals. An internship offers many benefits, including:

  • Valuable experience. Many employers want to hire people who have experience and can step into the job and be productive right from the start.
  • Information. An internship will help you make contacts, get ideas, and learn about the field.
  • Practical application. You will have the chance to apply theories learned in the classroom to a real-world setting. When you return to the classroom after your internship, you will better understand the many nuances of business operations that relate to the theories you study.
  • In many cases, an internship can lead to a job offer.

Join NOVA Online’s Book Club!


Tired of intense course-related reading?  Join in with the NOVA Online BookClub and spend Spring Break giving your brain a much-needed respite from citations and footnotes!

image of the book cover for "How I Live Now" by Meg Rosoff


How I Live Now, by Meg Rosoff, is an imagined, but wholly realistic, story of war in the 21st century of near-modern-day London, told from the perspectives of a visiting American teenager and her British cousins. Though the book is set in the near future, can we relate to what happens?

Read the book, watch the film (released in 2013) and then join us for an online chat session after Spring Break— more details coming soon! #NOVA Onlinebookclub

Of course if you have any questions or comments about the program, please contact NOVA Online’s library at NOVA

What does a snow day mean for your NOVA Online courses?

With winter here it is important to be aware of NOVA’s inclement weather policy and know what that means for your NOVA Online courses.  Staying informed will allow you to plan accordingly and stay safe! NOVA makes it easy for you to stay up-to-date in the event of an emergency closing or delay. snow dayIf the College is closed or delayed due to an emergency or inclement weather, a text alert will be sent to cell phones registered on NOVA Alert, a notice will be posted on the home page of the College’s website, and a message will appear on our cable television station as well as several local radio and television stations. The College also uses several media sources to announce delays and closings. The Emergency Preparedness website provides more information as you are planning ahead.

What does this mean for your NOVA Online class?

All in-person class sessions, and in-person labs will be canceled or delayed based on NOVA’s announcements. If you are planning to take an exam at the campus testing center, you will want to note that any closings or delays will affect campus testing center hours. Campus closing and delays will affect all campus offices, tutoring centers, and libraries.

Keep in mind, even when the college is closed, you can still log into Blackboard to access your NOVA Online courses.  A snow day is the perfect time to work on assignments and get ahead. If you have a live, virtual session scheduled, that meeting may still take place. Be sure to check your student email and blackboard announcement section to find out if the closing or delay will affect your NOVA Online course or if due dates have been changed due to the weather.

If you have not already, sign up for NOVA Alert today!

This week at NOVA Online!

Tomorrow, Monday, February 23rd is the start date for the 3rd 8-week courses. Do you have courses starting tomorrow? You might not see your course open until tomorrow. Any Blackboard questions? Check out Blackboard tutorial tips to learn more.

Do you have any questions for us? Call, email or chat with us!

Tuesday, February 24 from 12:00 – 2:00 pm & 6:00 – 8:00 pm – Participate in a Ask the Transfer Representative webinar. Do you have questions about transferring? Chat online with transfer representatives from any of the institutions listed below each session date. Registration is required.

Are you Ready for Online Learning? Interested in enrolling in an online class, but not sure if it is right for you? Starting a class this week and want to make sure you know and understand your strengths and challenges? Take the Smarter Measure assessment to help gage your readiness for online classes. Contact NOVA Online Success Coach, Jennifer Reed at for a username and password.

Northern Virginia Community College has contracted with Tuition Management Services (TMS) to process electronic financial aid disbursements to students who are entitled to excess financial aid after all institutional charges for tuition, fees, and books have been paid. You have the ability to receive excess financial aid disbursements in as little as one to two business days, depending on your choice.

Community Service Spotlight: Better World Books

7658051014_64f5e2cf11_hFor February, we want to highlight the Better World Books organization. Even though they may look like just another website that buy and sell used books, they are much more than that! Better World Books has an environmental as well as social mission.

They make a commitment to sustainability!  By finding and creating new ways for books to be recycled, Better World Books prevents the cycle of adding more unneeded waste to our landfills.

They have a strong focus on literacy!  Every book that is bought and sold through Better World Books helps fund literacy non-profits around the world. They have donated over 4 million books to under served communities.

How can you help?

You can support literacy programs by donating your own used books you might have! All you need is a box or envelope and Better World Books provide a free shipping label. This helps make it easier for participants to donate AND supports their sustainability mission by offsetting your carbon footprint!

Visit the site to learn more at :

Managing Your Study Time

jugglingBalancing college, work and life can be overwhelming! With so many responsibilities there doesn’t seem to be enough time to eat breakfast, let alone start that research paper. If your life feels like a balancing act, take control of your time and consider incorporating these time saving strategies into your study routine:

To successfully manage your course assignments, try setting assignment completion goals and record them in your planner, phone or calendar. Writing down goals will inspire and motivate you to stay on track. If you have a large research paper, consider setting daily goals to complete the paper. For example, in your planner, on Monday, March 1, record: locate 3 research articles, Tuesday, March 2: review research articles and start the works cited page. Wednesday, March 3: develop thesis for paper, and so on. Be sure to set a goal to finish 2-3 days early! Need help developing or setting goals, review this SMART Goals blog post and be sure to explore the links.

For a dynamic overview of an effective plan to organize your course workload, view our free 30 minute, online workshop focused on Time Management. The workshop will help you get on track and take control of your balancing act as you explore tips and strategies to organize your course assignments along with your personal and work responsibilities by developing a daily schedule that will put you in control. To encourage your follow through on your plans, explore their workshop titled, Overcoming Procrastination. To view these and other online workshops, click here.

Don’t let social media or interruptions get the best of your time—once you start allowing interruptions, the time you had is gone!

Stay organized by creating a binder for each course. Further organize the binder with dividers for:  Syllabus, Assignments, Lectures, Notes, etc. (just as you would do for an on-campus class).

Set up a study area that is quiet and free of distractions. A quiet ‘study zone’, will enable you to stay focused and get more accomplished in a shorter period of time. If you find them helpful, place post-it’s in key places to serve as reminders, encouragement or motivation! Remember to shut off your phone and don’t let social media interrupt you. Interruptions will cause you to wander and loose concentration which will get you off track and waste valuable time.

If you would like a planner to get started on your journey to improving your time management skills, send an email to the NOVA Online Success Coaches, They will be happy to mail you a NOVA planner.

Take control of your time by integrating these strategies into your study routine. Before you know it, life will no longer be a balancing act and you will be reaping the benefits of a controlled, stress free, and organized future! For a quick visual review of these strategies, click here.

Need help getting your assignments, tests and projects organized. Reach out to a NOVA Online Success Coach, They can help you map out your assignments and empower you to succeed.


image of Otis Boykin and one of his inventions

Otis Boykin: inventor of a control unit for the pacemaker

Yesterday, Professor Pool offered some great resources for understanding slavery in the United States. In celebration of black history month, the library would also like to recommend some resources to learn more about black American history and culture.

The Songs Are Free: Bernice Johnson Reagon and African-American Music – This is a video about the history of African American music and includes performances by Bernice Johnson Reagon.

Prelude and First Curtains: African Grove Theater – Offers a glimpse in to the history of  Africa- American theater in America.

Women’s Work : An Anthology of African-American Women’s Historical Writings From Antebellum America to the Harlem Renaissance – an eBook that “… aims to bring together writings by African-American women between 1832 and 1920, the period when they began to write for American audiences and to use history to comment on political and social issues of the day.” -from

You can view these and more at the library’s homepage ( You just need your myNOVA username and password. If you have questions, please contact us at NOVA #Blackhistorymonth


Black History Month

black_histroy_monthWe can never fully understand what it is like to be a slave, but there are stories that can speak to us from the past. During Black History Month, we are encouraged to try to learn more about the experience. Here are a few resources about slavery that might make the indescribable horrors come alive in your mind.

The Library of Congress has a collection entitled Voices From the Days of Slavery. These are interviews with former slaves about their experiences.

The History Channel has a fascinating site called Slavery in America.

Here is the full text of the Autobiography of Venture Smith, a former slave who published his story in 1798. It is one of the earliest published slave narratives.

This blog was written by Assistant Professor of English, Bridget Pool. Professor Pool teaches ENG 254 – Survey of
African American Literature II. She can be reached by email at

This week at NOVA Online!

Tomorrow, Monday, February 16th is the start date for the 3rd 12-week courses. Do you have courses starting tomorrow? You might not see your course open until tomorrow. Any Blackboard questions? Check out Blackboard tutorial tips here.

Monday, February 16th from 12:15-1:15pm – Participate in an NOVA Online Orientation Webinar – This one hour webinar will focus on getting started in your courses, navigating your Blackboard course site, and identifying tips for success and student support services. The NOVA Online Orientation is highly recommended for students who are new to online learning. Register or request a recording here.

Tuesday, February 17 from 7 – 8:30 pm – Participate in a NOVA/NOVA Online Transfer Panel webinar. Are you interested in transferring to a Bachelor’s degree program after NOVA? This webinar will host a panel of NOVA/NOVA Online alumni students who have transferred to 4-year institutions. Learn more regarding the transfer process and have your questions answered about their varied experiences. Register or request a recording here.

While enrolled in courses, you may want to register for NOVA Alert to get emergency related messages, including closures due to inclement weather. Campus closures will affect all campus offices, including the testing centers, tutoring centers, and campus libraries.

Northern Virginia Community College has contracted with Tuition Management Services (TMS) to process electronic financial aid disbursements to students who are entitled to excess financial aid after all institutional charges for tuition, fees, and books have been paid. You have the ability to receive excess financial aid disbursements in as little as one to two business days, depending on your choice. For more information and to register, click here.

February’s focus on the blog is Effective Communication Skills. Throughout the month we will post topics and have guest bloggers related to improving and fine-tuning your written communication. This Wednesday, the Student Success Coaches have provided a post focused on time and stress management, which can help you keep the lines of communication open through active planning. How do you manage your time?