Free Career Planning Tool for NOVA Students

Did you know all NOVA students, staff, and faculty have free access to FOCUS 2, an online, interactive, self-guided career and education planning system that can help you:

  • Select a program/major based on your interests and aspirations
  • Discover occupations matching your personal preferences and attributes
  • Map out your career plans, present and future
  • Make informed career decisions

View a Getting Started with FOCUS 2 handout.

Follow the steps below to begin using FOCUS 2.

  1. Visit NOVA’s Career Services website
  2. Select FOCUS 2
  3. Click FOCUS 2 button
  4. Click REGISTER button
  5. Enter “NOVA” for the access code
  6. Enter your NOVA student e-mail address in the e-mail box
  7. Provide requested information
  8. Check box to acknowledge terms and conditions of system
  9. Click CONTINUE button

Contact Christy Jensen ( if you have any problems accessing the system.

How is online learning different from on-campus courses?

Hope everyone is having a great first week! We want to point out some of the differences between online through NOVA Online and on-campus courses at NOVA.

  • Format
  • Technology
  • Time Required

Although online learning and on-campus courses cover the same content, the format is different. NOVA Online courses are flexible, with stated deadlines, meaning, you can work on your course at any point throughout the week, but will need to meet weekly or even mid-weekly due dates. NOVA Online requires proctored exams to be completed within the stated course deadlines. Some courses may also be accelerated with the instructor’s permission.

Technology provides content and interaction. NOVA Online courses use Blackboard as the course management system to communicate and facilitate class discussions. Students are required to use their VCCS student email account to communicate with the instructor.

Online learning courses usually require at least as much time as you would spend taking a campus-based course. You should plan to study at least 2-3 hours a week for each credit. In other words, for a 16-week, three-credit course, you would study 6-9 hours per week. For 12 or 8-week courses, more time would need to be scheduled to complete your requirements. When you compare this time with what you spend in class and studying outside of class, it is about the same.

Weekly ScheduleHere is a chart that illustrates the general amount of time per week you should expect to study per credit hour based on the course length. For example, if you enroll in an 8-week, 3-credit class, you can expect to spend 12-18 hours per week studying for this class. In general, the shorter the class length (8, 10, 12, or 16-week), the more hours of study time you can expect to spend per week per credit. (Click on chart to enlarge picture)We encourage you to participate in an NOVA Online Orientation to help as you are getting started in your first online course. You can view short videos from Blackboard to review how to submit an assignment, post on discussion board, check grades, etc.

For more information about getting started at NOVA Online, please email or call 703.764.5076. Have a question, but not sure who to ask? Start with a Success Coach!

Parking Services

If you are taking exams at a NOVA Campus Testing Center (or going to campus for other reasons!) make sure you are familiar with the parking policies. Send qestions to

No Parking Permits are Required In ‘B’ Lots Until Enforcement Begins on September 8 @ 6 a.m. This does not include ‘A’ Lots or other reserved spaces – Open Parking includes ‘B’ and hourly parking lots/garages ONLY.

When Enforcement Begins, Students Must Have a Permit or Utilize Hourly Options When Parking On Campus.

Discounted Flex Parking Options & Semester Hang-tags are Available:

  • Full Semester Permit:
    • Hangtag valid for the entire semester for up to two vehicles.
    • $80 if Purchased online.
    • $90 if Purchased at any Campus Parking Services office.
    • Print a temporary 21-day parking pass for immediate use after online purchase.
  • Passport Parking Mobile Payment App:
    • Pay hourly by phone using the Passport App in any student ‘B’ or Hourly Space.
    • Pre-Paid Bundles: 60 hours for $70 & 30 hours for $40!
    • More Info online.
  • Discounted Daily Scratch-Off Bundle:
    • Receive 8 one-day passes for $60 ($80 value) – Buy Online.
    • More Info online.


Starting this Fall, the time in which students may park in ‘B’ lots or Hourly spaces for free, without a permit, is now 3:45 p.m. on Weekdays and any time on Weekends.

We are proud to announce our new Annandale Hourly Garage Operations! We are moving to a new Pay-By-Space system. More information can be found below.


Please visit the NOVA Parking Webpage for further information as well as to see the NOVA Parking Brochure for a complete list of Parking Rules and Regulations 2017-2018.

Any Questions? Please contact Customer Support at 703-323-3123 or


Coming September 8th, 2017


The Hourly Garage on the Annandale Campus will be moving to a new Pay-By-Space system.


You will now Pay Upon Arrival to the Hourly Garage. No more pulling tickets or waiting for gates!


  • Upon arrival enter the garage and find an available numbered space.
  • Take note of the space number where you parked.
  • Pay for the amount of time you wish at any of the Pay Stations.
  • The Pay Stations are located on the 1st & 2nd floors of the garage.
  • No need to display anything on your dash. Just Pay and Go!

*You will need your receipt to add additional time*


The pricing has not changed:

$2.00 Per Hour – $10.00 Daily Max

The Pay Stations accept the following payment types:

Cash- $1, $5, $10 bills. Coins- $1, .25¢

Credit Cards– Visa, MasterCard, American Express

 *Please Note the Pay Stations DO NOT dispense change

and there are NO Refunds*

In addition, Parking is now: FREE after 3:45pm in Garages & B-Lots!


Please call AN Parking Services at 703-323-4267 or email

First Week Reminders!

Happy First Day of Classes, NOVA Online Students!

Today’s first day blog is provided by student blogger Rebecca! She has been taking NOVA Online classes for two semesters and has some tips to help new NOVA Online students get started in fall classes.

It’s Sunday afternoon and I’m scrambling to finish a paper by the 5pm deadline. I am just about to submit my paper at 4:55pm but I decide to proofread it one more time. By the time I finish it is a couple minutes after 5pm. Okay, I’ll go submit it now. It’s only two minutes, right? WRONG! As I click on the assignment I am startled to discover that the submission page has disappeared off of blackboard!

Yes, this did actually happened to me last semester. Luckily I emailed the professor and was able to turn in my assignment, although I did lose a lot of points. Don’t let this happen to you!

Online classes are great because they let you have flexibility in your schedule. However without a physical class everyday to remind you what is due, it’s easy to get behind if you don’t pace yourself. My #1 tip for students new to online classes is keep track of your course deadlines and your professor’s policy on deadlines.

Here are five things to look for on your syllabus:

  1. What day of the week and time are assignments due? The day and time of deadlines may vary for different courses. In my experience most classes have Sunday deadlines but the times may vary. For example, last semester one of my courses had a Sunday 5pm deadline, another had a Sunday 11:59pm deadline and another had a Monday 6am deadline. It’s helpful to write deadlines on a calendar (especially if you are taking multiple courses, so you don’t get caught off guard by a busy week)
  2. Are there any midweek deadlines? Once in a while there may be a group project or discussion board posting with a midweek deadline, leaving time later in the week for comments.
  3. Are there strict deadlines? Some professors have strict weekly deadlines while others will accept all work right up until the course end date.
  4. Do exams have to be taken during a certain window? Are exams only available for a limited time? Can you take them early or late?
  5. Does your instructor accept late work? Some instructors will let you turn in work a day or two late if you email them and explain the situation. Other instructors will accept late work but take points off. Others are very strict about deadlines and will not accept work even a minute late.

We’ve all been there: You have a busy week and struggle to find the time. You have last minute computer problems. These things can and will happen. Avoid a stressful situation by learning about your Critical Course Deadlines, course specific deadlines, and professor’s late and grading policy before you are too overwhelmed!

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

Welcome to the Extended Learning Institute (NOVA Online) at NOVA! NOVA Online is the online division at NOVA. All NOVA Online courses are housed in Blackboard. We have provided tips to get off to a great start and establish a routine early in the semester! Let us know if you have any questions.

  1. 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.
  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.
  6. Establish a Routine! All online classes, regardless of session length, are based on the full 16-week course material; 12, 10, 8 and 6 week courses will move at an accelerated pace.
  7. 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.
  8. Let NOVA Online staff know if you have any questions.

Review additional resources for logging into Blackboard and navigating Blackboard can be found on NOVA’s website. As well as additional Blackboard tutorials in your course site.

If you need assistance locating helpful study resources, getting started strategies, or any general NOVA Online questions contact the NOVA Online Student Services Team at or  703.323.3347.

Know Your Critical Course Deadlines

One 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 administratively 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 course deadlines, that include your First Assignment Due Date. The first assignment due date requires 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 , 10, 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 course deadlines 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.

Preparing for your first day

As you are preparing 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

Courses are made 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 21, you may not see your course in Blackboard until that day. If you are scheduled for a later starting NOVA Online course you may not see your course until closer to that start date.

As soon as your class 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.

New to online learning at NOVA? Join us for an NOVA Online Orientation Webinar to help you get started!

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.

Tips to help you get started!

Below are some tips to help you get started in your NOVA Online courses this fall!

You will have access to your course in Blackboard the first day the course is scheduled to begin or sometimes a few days in advance. If your course is scheduled to begin later in the fall, check back closer to that date. 484765389Be sure to check your Blackboard course site regularly throughout the summer to make sure you don’t miss any course specific deadlines. Check each folder and read announcements from your instructors.

It is important to be aware of Critical Course Deadlines for your courses. In addition, you also want to be aware of course specific deadlines. Get started immediately so you don’t miss any deadlines.

NOVA Online Student Life offers various in-person and virtual events throughout the semester to help connect you to peers, faculty and staff. Join us!

Take advantage of NOVA’s Library Services from your home computer. You can access resources and references from the Library database with your VCCS username and password.

Do you have any general NOVA Online questions? Live Chat (bottom right)  or NOVA Online Hotline – 703.323.3347 is a great option to ask general questions, but remember your instructors are available if you have course specific questions.

Proctor U is an online proctoring service available for some NOVA Online courses. This service is available for some NOVA Online courses and gives you the opportunity to take your exams from your home computer using a web cam, microphone and speakers.

Try using Smarthinking for 24/7 online tutoring.

Checking your Student E-Mail Account is important throughout the semester. You will get updates and announcements from your instructor as well as from NOVA Online. Get in the habit of checking this e-mail.

24/7 Tech Support is available from NOVA by calling 703.764.5051.

NOVA Online offers several webinars throughout the semester to help you succeed. Check out live sessions or request a copy of a recording.

Financial Aid assistance is available by creating a case at or uploading documents that are accepted electronically through the To Do List. You may also fax documents to (703) 323-3494.   Questions about financial aid eligibility? Check out the Financial Aid Blog.

Not enrolled yet? There is plenty of time to register for fall semester courses.

Are you a seasoned NOVA Online professional?? What tips would you share with a new student about online learning at NOVA?

Focus on Your Job While Managing Your Career

Landing your first job is just the first step on your career path. It’s important to keep your job-search and work-related skills up to date, even when you’re happy with your employment. After all, U.S. Department of Labor research indicates that the average worker will hold eight to 10 different jobs during his or her employment lifespan—and the greatest turnover happens before a worker reaches the age of 30.

So how do make yourself a valuable employee and prepare for your next career step?

Keep yourself on the cutting edge of your field—because it will make you more valuable to your current employer and it will help you move along your career track without missing a step.

Follow these simple tips and you’ll find it easier to weather all the career course changes that come your way.

  1. Think of yourself as an entrepreneur. You are the product that is being offered in the job marketplace. Continue to develop and market your strengths and interests.
  2. Learn and earn. Take advantage of every opportunity to learn something new—by helping out on a new project, volunteering to “cover” for an employee who’s on leave, or attending seminars and workshops that the company may offer. Some employers offer tuition reimbursement, so take classes in your field. Don’t allow your education to become obsolete.
  3. Keep your records up to date. Keep a record of your accomplishments, perhaps even a portfolio. Be able to demonstrate the value you add to your organization. Include contact names and references in your portfolio, along with a resume that’s updated on a regular basis.
  4. Take “It’s not my job!” out of your vocabulary. Volunteer to take on new responsibilities and think of every new assignment as a learning experience. Look for other ways to contribute. Being cross-trained will make you more valuable. If you have to work some extra hours to help with a special project, do so willingly. It will be remembered.
  5. Dress up your attitude. Even when doing the most unpleasant or routine tasks, do them with style. Deal with everyone on a professional basis, from the receptionist right up to the CEO. You are all partners in creating a dynamic and cooperative workplace.
  6. Seize the opportunity! Don’t wait to be told to do a job or take on a responsibility. Ask “May I help?” If you see something that you think should be done and would help make the company better, offer to handle it.
  7. Make the team. Employers want employees who can work together for the goals of the company, instead of promoting their individual goals. Having personal goals will help keep your career on track. Just make sure you’re in line with the employer’s goals as well.
  8. Bond with the boss. A good relationship with your supervisor will endure—in the form of good recommendations and networking in the future.
  9. Make change your perspective. Every employee should acknowledge—even embrace—the changes in the workplace. If you’re not a part of the change, you’ll soon find yourself left behind. Demonstrate that you have the ability to perform well in changing circumstances and difficult situations.
  10. Keep your technology skills cutting edge. Take any technology-related class or seminar offered by your employer—even if it’s a class offered after hours. You don’t want to have to play “catch up” while looking for a new position or trying to secure a promotion.

Courtesy of the National Association of Colleges and Employers.