Stay Strong: Your Student Success Conference

Join us for Your Student Success Conference on Tuesday & Wednesday!

(Click on photo to enlarge)

Stay Strong ConferenceSessions on Tuesday, August 30:

Stay Strong: There’s an App for That! from 10:00 – 10:45 am

Focus on Your Career Planning from 12:15 – 1:00 pm

Sessions on Wednesday, August 31:

Are Online Courses Right for Me? from 10:00 – 10:45 am

Exploring Career Options from 12:15 – 1:00 pm

Communicating with Faculty from 2:00 – 2:45 pm

Everyone will receive a NOVA t-shirt for joining us! Additional raffle prizes each session! Join us for as many as your schedule allows!

If you have any questions you can contact the NOVA Online Student Services Team at or 703-323-3347. We are more than happy to answer your questions, as well as refer you to useful resources and services that will support your online learning experience.

Plan early to take your exams

All NOVA Online courses require proctored exams or assignments. Plan ahead for how you will take your exams depending on your location and/or location.

For more about NOVA’s testing policies, view the Testing Information Website.

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NOVA Online offers three methods to fulfill this requirement:

Campus Testing Centers

Students that live in the Northern Virginia area can use any Campus Testing Center. All 6 campuses have a testing center, and it doesn’t matter which one you go to throughout the term. When using a Campus Testing Center:

  • Know the Hours of the Campus Testing Center: Be aware of testing center hours, location, and parking available for the campus you are going to. Double check campus testing center hours before going to campus, just in case!
  • Plan Well: Do not wait until the last minute to take your exam – it is possible that you could be turned away from the testing center if lines are long and you have not provided enough time to wait and then take the test. As you plan, consider the possibility of traffic, weather, parking, lines, etc.
  • Review Your Course Syllabus: Before going to take your test, be sure you are aware of your exam requirements. Any special information about your test should be referenced in your syllabus. Are you allowed to have a note card, scratch paper, etc.? Check your syllabus and be aware of your test conditions.
  • Exam Pass/Photo ID: When you arrive at the testing center, you will need to turn in your Exam Pass and show a photo ID.  You will need to print your exam pass from the Taking Exams and Using Exam Passes section your course Syllabus.
  • Checking In: When you check-in, you will be asked to stow away your personal belongings in a secure locker. You may want to bring minimal items with you.
  • Multiple Exams: If you are taking more than one exam, you will be required to have an exam pass for each exam and wait in the line for each exam. Please plan accordingly.
  • Be Prepared: Be sure to get plenty of rest and eat a healthy meal or snack before testing. You may also want to consider a short walk to clear your mind before going into the testing center.

Out of Area: Proctor Request

If you are out of the area, or planning to be out of the area at any point throughout your course, you will need to identify a Testing Location to supervise your NOVA Online exams. If you have not already, you should begin the process immediately.

Virginia residents (outside of Northern Virginia): You may take your exams at any Virginia Community College (VCCS) testing center, via our online proctoring service, ProctorU, if it is available in your course (check the availability of this service in your course under Exams), or at the testing center of another Virginia college/university at which you are a student (submit a proctor request form for approval). Use the College Locator feature on the Virginia Community College System (VCCS) website to find a college near you.

Students in other states/outside the US: You may take your exams at a college/university testing center near you (submit a proctor request form for approval), or via our online proctoring service, ProctorU, if it is available in your course. Check the availability of this service in your course under Exams.

  • It is the student’s responsibility to secure a proctor and to pay any related fees.
  • To request a proctor, complete the NOVA Online Proctor Request Form and submit it with your Proctor’s statement on letterhead to NOVA Online Course Specialists at
  • Requests for proctored exams and proctors must be approved by NOVA Online. NOVA Online reserves the right to reject requests for proctors for any reason.

ProctorU Testing Service

ProctorU might be an option for one or more of your classes, and allow you to take your exams from your home computer. Using a webcam with a microphone, speakers, and a reliable high-speed internet connection, you can take your exams anywhere. Courses offering this option will have the ProctorU Information in the course Blackboard under the links, Taking Exams and Using Exam Passes in your course Syllabus. If you choose to use this online proctoring service:

  • You will need to schedule to take your exam(s) through ProctorU at least 72 hours prior to testing to avoid a late fee.
  • An associate from the ProctorU will scan your room to ensure no one else is in the room and that the area is clear of books, papers, etc.
  • You must be 18 or older and be prepared to show a current photo ID prior to the exam.
  • You must have speakers & microphone and a webcam connected to your computer and in working order.
  • You cannot take bathroom breaks during the exam and no one is allowed in the room with you.
  • Please note there is a 15 to 30 minute period before you begin your exam itself to verify your identity, to ensure your testing environment is secure, and to ensure your system is working properly. Do not schedule your exam at the last minute.

Regardless of your method of testing, the NOVA Online Success Coaches are here to help you succeed in your NOVA Online courses. NOVA Online Success Coaches can be reached at or 703.323.3347.

We wish you much success on your exams and remind you that when testing, you may only use materials your proctor specifically tells you may be used, based on instructions from the instructor. Also, as a NOVA Online student, you are required to follow the code of conduct as outlined in the NOVA Student Handbook.

For more about NOVA’s testing policies, view the Testing Information Website.

Written by Adrienne, NOVA Online Student Success Coach

Tips from a former NOVA Online Student

Today’s blog is provided by student blogger Aly! Aly has taken a combination of on-campus and online courses throughout her time at NOVA and graduated from NOVA this summer. Aly has provided current and future NOVA Online students with some tips to help students get started in fall classes.

If you are anything like me, trying to keep up with the obligations and requirements of a college course can become somewhat of a task – quite especially if you are enrolled in an online course. Participating in an online course means that, as a student, you will be given much more responsibility over your progress and performance in the class. Not to say that students who attend in-person lectures have it any easier, but I have learned through my experience that not having a professor to meet with on a regular basis required me to be much more attentive to the structure of the class. This includes knowing what the due dates are for assignments in the course, maintaining a study plan, forming a relationship with the instructor, checking email regularly, and preparing for exams.

To help guide you to successful completion of your online course, I have included several measures that I found useful for keeping me in tip-top shape throughout my online course. Below is my recommended approach to staying up-to-date and prepared, not only throughout the semester, but throughout your entire academic experience as an online student:

Knowing Assignment Due Dates

  •  Review the syllabus. This is perhaps the most important element of achieving success in an online course. As a NOVA Online student, I was always sure to do this on the first day of the course (or even sooner if my instructor opened the course in Blackboard a few days early). This allowed me to become familiar with the structure of the course, and also helped me form an understanding of what my assignments throughout the semester would require (i.e. amount of time, research, etc.).
  • Keep a planner or calendar containing assignment due dates. Admittedly, taking the time to write down each and every assignment into a planner or on a calendar can seem rather tedious and redundant. However, you’ll be thanking yourself for doing so in the long run. By including your due date in a planner or on a calendar, you are essentially creating a second reminder for yourself aside from the course syllabus. Also, wherever you decide to write down these reminders, make sure that you do so in a place that you frequently view. I have always found setting automatic reminders on my cell phone (or another electronic device), and including a link to the course syllabus to be very helpful!
  • Make habit of going over the syllabus at the start of each week. Again, this too might seem particularly redundant – especially since you have already taken this measure at the start of the course. By making habit of this practice, you will be able to assure yourself that you are less likely to miss assignment deadlines and you set yourself up for a successful week.

Forming a Relationship with your Instructor

  • Send the instructor an email at the start of the course. As a student, this is this best way to address any initial concerns that you might hold in relation to the course. I have also found that sending my instructor a friendly email at the start of the semester to be a good practice to follow in introducing myself and becoming acquainted with the instructor. In doing this, you are showing your instructor that you are dedicated, as this will also make it far easier to approach your instructor in the future if need be. You can obtain your instructor’s contact information by referring to the quick start syllabus that you received in the postal mail prior to the course start date.
  • Voice your questions or concerns. There is always the chance that new questions or concerns may pop-up throughout the entirety of the course. In this case, do not hesitate to contact your instructor once again. When sending an email make sure to use your VCCS student email, sign your full name, and use your course information in the subject line (ex. SDV 100 – E60L).

If you ever find that you are having difficulty getting in touch with your instructor, or encounter an instructor that is unresponsive to your emails, visit the webpage for NOVA’s Student Services Division to be placed in contact with an individual who can help you resolve this matter.

Checking Emails and Blackboard Regularly

•  Make use of your student email account. This is perhaps the most commonly neglected aspect of being a student. While this task is important for every student to make habit of, it is especially important for NOVA Online students to do so. Keep in mind, that as a NOVA Online student, a majority (if not all) of the communication between you and your instructor will be via email. Instructors frequently send out announcements and assignment updates by email.

Overall, I have learned that checking your student email account ( and Blackboard on a regular basis is essential to success as a NOVA Online student.

Preparing for Exams

  • Review what is covered on the exam and study accordingly. Again, as you will not be meeting with your instructor for in-person lectures, it is necessary to make note of important course dates. This includes course exam dates, which I have learned are best to prepare for at least a week in advance. Also, be sure to refer to either your syllabus or Blackboard for what is to be covered on each examine, as your instructor will not always remind you!
  • Plan ahead for how you will take your NOVA Online exams. All NOVA Online courses require proctored exams or assignments. A proctored exam means the exam will need to be supervised by a testing administrator. You can take your proctored exams at any NOVA campus testing center, at a testing location in your area if out of the Northern Virginia area (VCCS Testing Center), or through ProctorU if allowed for your course. More testing policies can be found on NOVA Online’s Website.

In providing this brief overview, all NOVA Online students must also keep in mind that proficiency and achievement in each course heavily relies upon effort, dedication, and determination on the student’s behalf. With this being said, this post has provided students with a general outline of practices to follow in developing a strong foundation for academic success.

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.

On Your First Day!

Is today the first day of your online class? Not sure where to start? How to get started? What time to log in? Let us know. Are you readyVisit the NOVA Online Student Blog for tips for success in online courses. Specifically read through Critical Course Deadlines and Preparing for your First Day for tips for success.
  1. Any time today – Log in to your My NOVA account using your VCCS username and password.
  2. Select “Blackboard Learn” from the My Tools Section.
  3. Find your courses in the “My Blackboard Courses” section and enter each course site.
  4. Read the course syllabus in detail. Make sure you are comfortable with the pace of the course. If you are enrolled in more than one course, go through each course syllabi in detail. Review the overview of assignments and take notes in your planner.
  5. Get started on your first week’s assignments. You must complete the first assignment by the assigned deadline to avoid being administratively dropped from the course for non-participation. Look ahead to see if you have any real-time meetings or virtual office hours you won’t want to miss!
  6. Have you already attended the NOVA Online Orientation Webinar? If not, check out a session this week.
  7. Establish a Routine! All online classes, regardless of session length, are based on the full 16-week course material; 12, 8 and 6 week courses will move at an accelerated pace.
  8. Plan Ahead! All online classes require proctored exams or assignments. Plan ahead for your proctored exams so you don’t miss any deadlines. Check your course syllabus and review testing policies.
  9. Let NOVA Online staff know if you have any questions. Use the contact form, or contact your Student Success Coach at NOVA or 703.323.3347.

Good luck in your online course. Make sure you check your VCCS student email regularly so you don’t miss any announcements. Let us know if you have any questions!

Preparing for your first day

Do you have an online course starting on Monday? Getting anxious to get started? Not sure what to expect? We have some tips for you!

As you prepare for your fall courses, it is important to keep in mind the importance of attendance and participation. Be mindful of Critical Course Deadlines and course specific deadlines so you don’t miss any assignments and fall behind in your course work.   null

Instructors make courses available in blackboard the first day the course is scheduled to begin, or sometimes a few days in advance. If your course begins on Monday, August 22, you may not see your course in Blackboard until that day. You may also see one course open earlier than another course. That’s ok! Just keep checking for all your courses and make sure you log in at some point on Monday to make sure you have access to your courses.

If you are scheduled for a later starting NOVA Online course you may not see your course until closer to that start date.

Have you attended the NOVA Online Orientation Webinar? Join us to learn more about getting started, navigating Blackboard, taking exams, and virtual support resources available to you!

Take a look at the Webinars available to you – there are recorded and live sessions that might be of interest as you are getting started.

As soon as your course begins, log into Blackboard and explore your virtual classroom. Use this opportunity to locate and review the course syllabus and assignments folder. This will give you a chance to see what you will be responsible for throughout the term. In addition, this will also allow you sufficient time to plan your time appropriately, making certain you will be able to complete your readings, assignments, projects and tests in time for their specified due dates. It is crucial to ensure you have completed and submitted your first assignment prior to the First Assignment Due Date to avoid being administratively withdrawn from your course. 

Logging into Blackboard as soon as the course begins will also give you the opportunity to identify any unexpected issues and provide ample time to ask any questions you might have.

If you have any questions or you are not sure where to start, you can contact the NOVA Online Student Success Coaching Team at or Student Services Team at 703-323-3347. We are more than happy to answer your questions, as well as refer you to useful resources and services that will support your online learning experience.

Critical Enrollment Dates

Quick Start Syllabi are in the mail. Have you received yours? Not sure what the critical enrollment dates mean? Learn more so you don’t miss any important deadlines! Calendar planning conceptOne assumption some online students make is that all NOVA Online 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!

It is very important to understand that most NOVA Online 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 assigned due date. Failure to follow these guidelines may result in being dropped from the course without a tuition refund. NOVA Online courses may be 16, 12 , 8 , 6, 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. View the critical enrollment dates early and know your options.

You can also view your critical enrollment dates by visiting your class schedule in your Student Center.

After selecting “My Class Schedule” in your Student Center account view the calendar link under “deadlines” for each course. (See photo below)Critical_Deadlines

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

When taking a NOVA Online 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 NOVA Online 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 NOVA Online course deadlines, know your course specific critical course deadlines and review the important dates to include refund date, first assignment due date and last day to withdraw with a grade of ‘W’.

Make sure to look for emails from the Student Success Coaches – – that will give you reminders of specific upcoming dates and helpful tips for success throughout the term. You can always reply to their emails with any questions you have, or give them a call at 703.764.5076.

New Student Orientation for Adult Learners

Are you an adult learner starting courses next week? 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 Thursday, August 18 from 12:00-1:00 pm.

web meeting 2Extended Learning Institute (NOVA Online)

Time: 12:00 – 1:00 pm

Date: Thursday, August 18, 2016

Location: Online

Follow Up & Recording (Edited 8/19): To request a copy of the recording, email NOVA with the subject: New Student Orientation for Adult Learners Recording

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.

Fall 2016 Apprenticeship Job Fair

The Apprenticeship Job Fair is scheduled for Thursday, September 15, 2016, 10am-2pm at 7611 Little River Turnpike, Annandale VA, 22003.  The event is free of charge and open to the public.

The Fall 2016 Apprenticeship Job Fair is in partnership with SkillSource Group Inc. and Virginia’s Department of Labor & Industry – Division of Registered Apprenticeship.


Be Alert for Phone Scams

Identity thieves will use telephone calls as one of the most common tactics to steal your personal information, your money, and your credit. College students are a popular target for identity thieves seeking your financial and personal information, particularly for thieves seeking your information to secure bogus student loans.

First, let’s get some background on the facts surrounding telephone scams. According to the Federal Trade Commission, telephone scams are responsible for thousands of cases of identity theft every year. These scams use a number of tactics to convince you of their credibility. In most cases, the scammers try to convince you that they are from your financial institution, such as a bank or credit card company. A common scam is to pose as a government official, such as the IRS. They might even say they are from your school. NOVA will never make an unsolicited call to you asking for your financial information, so never fall for this trick.

The scammers might even know your first name, which makes it seem like they are legit. The will seem very friendly and talk in a manner that seems to show they are trying to help you with some issue regarding your account. But these are only lies intended to build your trust.

Another tactic involves an unsolicited call to try to sell you something, which of course requires you providing them with an electronic check, a credit card, or a debit card number. One of the most sophisticated scams involves placing an advertisement in the classified section of a newspaper, or sending you a text or email message. They might even send you to a website that appears to represent a legitimate business, but it has been created only to fool you. Never purchase anything over the telephone unless you expected a legitimate business to call you regarding a purchase. Never purchase anything from someone who sent you a spam text or email, even if the message references an existing account or legitimate business. Make sure any online purchase is from a website that can easily be identified as a legitimate business.

Phone with email iconsHere are some common strategies used by telephone con artists:

  • You’ve been selected to receive a special offer
  • You’ve been selected for this bonus if you make a purchase
  • You’ve won a prize
  • You’ve won money in a lottery
  • Here’s a great investment opportunity
  • Here’s a great charitable cause
  • You only have to pay for shipping and handling
  • You need to decide now or you’ll lose this opportunity

The consequences of telephone scams are severe. Some people have lost their entire life savings to telephone scammers. The headlines from around the country provide evidence of trusting people providing information to telephone scammers who then proceeded to liquidate their bank accounts.

For more information about ways you can protect your identity, your information, and your money from telephone scammers, check out this site.

Fall 2016: purchase books/supplies using financial aid

Students with financial aid awards for Fall 2016 can purchase 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