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 NOVA Online Student, Mikaal Pratt

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

Preparing for Exams

As you are preparing for final exams in your online courses, the NOVA Online 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 a NOVA Online 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, NOVA Online 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 NOVA Online’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, NOVA Online 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 NOVA Online 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 a NOVA Online 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.