Category Archives: Student Blogger

Amber’s Recap on Spring Break

Alternative Spring Break – Roanoke, VA 

Amber Dunn is an online student working towards a degree in Film Studies. She shares her experience spending Spring break with Student Life in order to volunteer and give back to the community!

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Spring Break. A time to catch up with your friends. Maybe you and your besties hop in the car and go on a road trip. Or, your family might decide to soak up some sun rays on the beach. Whatever you do, you are having fun. Making memories with the people you hold close to your heart. Would you ever consider spending Spring Break with people you didn’t know? I’m talking about complete. Strangers. Would you be willing to spend Spring Break working? How would you feel if part of your Spring Break was spent getting dirty?

I was a little hesitant when the words “Alternative Spring Break” popped up on my screen. I thought, ”spend part of my time doing labor!” My best friend, Heather, convinced me. She exclaimed “Come on! It will be fun!” I decided “More time with my best friend, why not.”

The night before I left for the trip I was contemplating attending. At the time I was enrolled in an online course, and had a ton of work due plus an exam. I was worried I was not going to be able to finish the assignments, and adequately study. Then I reflected on the past month. I spent the entire month writing essays, and applying for what felt like 100 universities! I told myself, “you need this break.” The next morning, I was on my way to Roanoke, VA.

I did not except my life to be impacted within the three days. The first day we helped clean Mt. Zion AME church and settled in. The second day we helped Roanoke Rescue Mission. We helped package and give out food to families in need. It was a life changing experience because the quality of the food was superior. I have helped give back to families in need before, and the food these families typically received was non-perishables. The food Roanoke Rescue Mission gave out to their community in need was perishable and non-perishable. Food that had quality. Plus, they also provided dog or cat food. I was blown away by the food the community received. It was food with love.

Later in the day we went to the Habitat for Humanity ReStore. While we were there we helped clean the store, rearrange books, and move shelves. The best part was learning about the mission of Habitat for Humanity, and hearing about the lives it has changed through ReStore.

The last day we spent going to church for six hours. You read it correctly. Church, for six hours. Now, now. You are probably thinking, “Church? Six hours?” I know, I know. It was wonderful. The reason we attended Church was to experience a different element. Personally, attending Church spoke to me. Spring Break was at a time, two years ago I applied for nine universities. I was devastated my applications did not turn out the way I envisioned it. I did get accepted into one school, Spelman University, but I couldn’t attend due to a promise I made to myself over eight years ago. I promised myself I would graduate college debt free.

As I sat in Church I reflected upon how I improved since then. I made tremendous progress. I saw how all the rejections came together and led me in a better direction. After Church we went back to the Rescue Mission to help serve food to homeless families. One thing I noticed as I served these families was how polite and thankful they were. It warmed my heart when people looked me in the eyes and said, “Thank you. God Bless.” I could feel the sincerity behind their words.

Once we were done serving Pastor Ziglar took us on a mini-tour of the city. We drove to The Roanoke Star. As we approached the star we witnessed a breath-taking view of the city, and its life.

After we gathered our breaths, we grabbed ice cream and headed back to Mt. Zion. The next morning it was time to depart. By the conclusion of the trip I got to know my trip members better and see a new community. In fact, I was bummed the trip wasn’t an entire week. It felt amazing giving back and meeting new people. If you are ever given the chance between Spring Break or ALTERNATIVE Spring Break, take the latter. You never know how your life might change.

Amber Dunn aed2543@email.vccs.edu

Becoming a Leader in Group Projects

Check out this week’s Student Spotlight blog post  from Monica Lizarazo. Monica is an international student studying English. Group projects are never easy, but stepping up to take a leadership role within your group can be very rewarding. Monica shares three concepts that spark successful group leadership. 

Becoming a Leader in Group Projects

We all want to be a leader at some point in our lives, and it may be more important to want to be a leader while in college. You feel you need to lead group projects, participate a lot in your classes, explain lectures to other classmates or listen to your teacher, hey! Great job. All of these are signs you are loving that course. Thus, do not stop or get frustrated because your group does not work as well as you would like. Remember, leadership could be harder when you share different cultures, ages, and backgrounds. The key is to train your native leader to manage team-work based on three concepts: empathy, problem-solving, and synergistic communication.

If you are already in charge of a group, the first step you should study is empathy. This skill means to approach to the others’ thoughts; colloquially, being in others´ shoes. Consider that a project´s success will not be measured by the number of directions you could give to your classmates. This depends on how understanding you can be with them because they struggle as much as you do, but; you are their leader. Think in some questions such as who is my group? What are their other roles? Do they work or are they only students? Are they Americans or from another country? What are their majors? As much as you know your partners, you will get good ideas about their capacity and interest in the project to do the best team-work.

Besides understanding your team, if something falls on the way, you should never blame someone. You make them work together to figure out possible solutions, you are the problem solver. One more question is, ask yourself in silence to think better, what happened? Why did not we understand our goal? What are our options to fix it? Looking for someone to blame won’t help you, but it will make you waste time. Mohandas Gandhi said, “As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him” (qt Borton). If she or he did not send their part of the assignment; well, you are the leader. Did you have a plan b? For example, if you know who they are, you may have known she or he works and has a family (husband, wife or children). It meant they could not get on time to the presentation. Did you ask him how she or he was doing? Try always to be the problem solver and move on. Sometimes, they just need some support and they will do as much as they can.

Likewise, communication implies different levels and synergy infers to transmit a message from the receiver’s world. You cannot assume they understood your ideas only because you talked or wrote about it. You need to figure out how they communicate to create your own proper ways of communication. For example, if one of them learns by listening, you should verbally explain and call her or him. If the person does not speak English as a first language, you explain and email her or him. The synergistic communication allows you to make the others feel an important part of the group dynamic because you are giving a message in a way they enjoy. You will see you are a synergetic communicator when the project is done. Keep in mind, you are their leader, you need to take the initiative and work with your team.

Identification, solutions and active communication are keys to help you become a respectable leader. Although there are diverse leadership styles, you should choose one that best reflects your personality. However, you would not forget to enjoy the process because you are still in college. While you are studying, you have the right to make many mistakes that in real life may have bigger consequences. Your errors will always make you a better professional and human being. I loved to be the chief in charge when I studied my bachelor’s degree in Colombia. Now, I am starting over, so I am the listener.

Work Cited
Morton, Brian. “Falser Words Were Never Spoken”, published in The New York Times, 29 Aug. 2011. https://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/30/opinion/falser-words-were-never-spoken.html. Accessed 12 Mar. 2019.

Student SpotLight: How to ball On a Budget

This week’s Student Spotlight is written by Marly Narcisse. Marly is working towards a degree in Engineering and has a knack for learning other languages. She is currently taking German through NOVA Online. For most students, College is expensive. We get it. Marly is here to share
with us some tips on how to manage our finances.   

Greetings

Growing up my mother was not very financially responsible, and when I moved to the USA my family was not financially responsible. I decided that this wouldn’t be me, so I experimented with many ways before I found out the one that works for me. Below are the top five things I do keep my finances in check.

  1. Get A Spending Notebook

In this book I write down all my wants and needs. I also write down savings and financial goals. I have a job, but I also have bills. For better accuracy I write down everything that I must pay for each pay check and I cross them off as I go. I also keep track of how often I need the basics (toothbrush, shampoo, etc.) so I can plan accordingly.

2. Budget

Budget. I consider budgeting as the maximum amount of money I am willing to pay for things. I have a car, so I need gas. I tell myself based on my commute, how much gas do I need? It turns out, I could get by with $100 a month. I allocate $100 for gas every month using a gift card. Unless it’s necessary I will not go beyond my commute. Everything I need is on the way. I also do that for everything else, clothes, books, etc. I like to avoid surprises. My wallet doesn’t like them very much. 

3. Create Different Savings Accounts

I have three different savings accounts based on my priorities. I have an emergency account. I was told to have at least 3-4 months bills put away, so I am working towards that. I also want to invest money for residual income and I want to go places, it doesn’t matter where. I allocate some money each month for it according to importance. Suppose I save $100, 50% would go to emergency, 30 to travel and 20 to investment.

4. Spend Less

I only buy things I need. When I go to the store, usually Bed Bath and Beyond because I use their 20% off coupons, A LOT, I make sure I get things I really need. I’ll ask myself three times if I really need something before I hit the register, and I’ll put the No’s on the side. When I reach the register, I’ll ask myself, “do I need it?” one more time before I make final my purchase.

5. Save All Extra Cash

I get money for my birthday, work bonus or for whatever other reason. I used this money strictly for savings and I follow the same breakdown as before 50 for emergency, 30 for travel and 20 for investment.

These tips work for me. I live within my means and I can still afford to do things I want to do without feeling guilty. At the same time, I have a cushion for the future. If you have any additional tips or have any questions don’t hesitate to contact me.

Thank You

Student Spotlight: Three Ways I Stay Mentally Healthy

Check out this week’s Student Spotlight from Jordan Boyd. Jordan is a double major in Business and Art History. As the 16 week semester starts to gear up, Jordan shares with us how she stays mentally healthy.

Three Ways I Stay Mentally Healthy

School is stressful. I don’t think there’s a person alive who has gotten through school with a 0% amount of stress. It’s so strong that it has an effect on your physical stature. Hunched shoulders, a stiff neck and headaches are just a few symptoms I’ve had to prove it. People have recommended trying new activities like running, taking walks and stress balls. I’ve tried them all but I’ve noticed that they only take away the physical pressure. We seem to help relax the outcome instead of the main source: the mind. School and other activities have taken its toll on me, but they’ve become less stressful due to a few techniques. Here are three easy (and free) ways I use to calm my own mind.

  1. MEDITATION~ Your mind has all the answers. Sitting down in silence and relaxing can leave you feeling calm and ready to continue on. There are days it helps clear my mind and other days it helps with breathing techniques for me to calm down. It definitely takes time to master, but every minute throughout the process is significant. So take a seat, think it through and you’ll be on your way.
  2. MAKING AND GOING OVER DREAMS AND GOALS~ There’s a reason why you’re doing what you’re doing. My list can probably go on for days, but it gets me excited thinking about the many different things I want to do. Reminding yourself every day or every time you feel down can be that burst of energy you need to get back in the zone.
  3. KNOWING YOU’RE DOING FINE~ “It always works out”. That’s my mantra for every day. I say it in the morning, in the middle of the day and when I go to bed. It makes all the hard work, struggles and stress worth it.

My message to you is to keep your mind clear and healthy. Don’t focus on the bad stuff. Surround yourself with things that make you happy. A yoga class. A bag of candy. A good playlist. Maybe you can try looking back on your accomplishments and feel proud of yourself. You’re unique, so what you choose might be different from mine, but I promise you that if you take the time, you’ll find what helps you. Don’t let the stress get to you because what you’re going through is only temporary. You got this!

Student Spotlight: My Educational Journey

This week’s student spotlight comes from NOVA Online student, Geofrey as he shares about what he has learned through his educational journey at NOVA.

I have learned from experience, that education never ends, has no age limit and can benefit all persons who choose to further their knowledge in different fields and aspects of life. I’m a Ugandan-American and unlike many of my college-mates at Nova, I was not born in the US nor went to high school here. Also unlike my college friends, I’m a bit on the “older side” to be taking classes with them at this point. Being in your thirties and taking classes with eighteen to twenty year-olds used to feel funny, but the environment and professors at campus are so welcoming, friendly and always willing to help. I have gotten used to going to classes without feeling ashamed or embarrassed of my extended age. I found out that no one really cares about yours or my age. My busy life has had me take classes off and on for the last few years without a definite end in sight, and I’d love to share two aspects that have helped me blend in as an older enthusiastic outsider.

Make Goals

Believing, determination and having a concrete vision is key. I always knew that I needed to complete my education and earn my degree, but was never fully vested in doing the work and getting it done. Time goes fast when you procrastinate. Making realistic goals, checking on my progress and seeking for ways to balance my education with family and work life to better focus on earning my degree has been key. I knew that if I didn’t make goals, there would be nothing to look forward to and therefore wouldn’t see a need to work hard. So, I made goals and made plans to achieve them.

Stay Positive

No one is looking, and if they are, they are on your side. Even though I knew I had what it took to be successful, my first classes at Nova were filled with a bit of self-doubt. Am I too old, will I fit in, what will they say; were questions in my head. Staying positive, asking questions and making new friends were key to gaining confidence on my college career. So, the best way for me was finding those things that made me relevant, making friends and consulting with my career counselor as much as I could. Soon or later my doubt was gone and I was part of a family. This happens to almost everybody, but the key is to stay positive and optimistic. The system is set up to help you and you alone- utilize it and you’ll be just fine!

Interested in submitting a post for our NOVA Online blog? Contact elistulife@nvcc.edu for more information.

Student Spotlight: International Student Experience at an American College

Check out the following student spotlight post from Yaw, highlighting their experience as an international student and the strength and value of our diverse student body.

 

Adapting to a new culture is often challenging. I moved from Ghana to the United States for college. It was nothing like I imagined. Beforehand, my point of reference to life in the US is movies, pictures and other forms of media. College could be an exciting opportunity to mature away from parents but just as easily, the gift of freedom could motivate bad decisions and a drastic fall off. I have found that it is important to discover one’s balance with work and play as well as entertaining fruitful relationships with fellow school mates.

Upon arrival, my first significant shock was just how open everyone is. The experience of meeting a vast variety of personalities was very enlightening. I have found that integrating into the college is made easier by the range of diversity present. I believe that my perspective on issues has broadened, having the opportunity to appreciate different points of view. The faculty have been welcoming at the same time blunt. Nova presents an atmosphere not too comfortable for its students causing complacency but rather a competitive one that keeps me motivated throughout the course of the semester. Academic assistance is easily accessible. I often utilize writing labs for my ENG 111 essays, it has been extremely helpful to get more eyes on your paper to critique and help improve.

I would rate my experience so far, an 8 out of 10. It is definitely an experience I would never forget and would love to go through a second time.

If you are interested to share your NOVA story in one of our student spotlight posts, please reach out to us at elistulife@nvcc.edu.

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 OnlineStuLife@nvcc.edu for more information.

eLEAD experience

The numerous emails that fill your inbox with information about extra-curricular activities, which we are all guilty of ignoring and discarding. I came across one which I thankfully did not ignore. The eLEAD series.null“I take online classes, I can’t participate in extra-curricular activities.” A similar thought ever cross your mind? Well you can’t be far from wrong! There are many opportunities for online students to participate in extra-curricular activities. Among the variety of student life options, is the eLEAD series. This series is a 4 week program designed to help you build on your leadership skills. The series helps you recognize your strengths through the StrengthsQuest Assessment. StrengthsQuest is an assessment built to help you recognize your 5 most dominant strengths. Throughout this program you will learn how to use these strengths to help build your leadership skills and how to work and communicate efficiently. And upon completion of this series you receive a certificate of completion, which will be a great asset to your resume.

All in all it was a great opportunity to learn to look at my strengths rather than weaknesses, and to be able to communicate with others taking online classes!

Blog was provided by Student Blogger, Ammarah, who participated in the eLEAD program spring 2017.

In you are interested in joining this eLEAD series for Fall 2017, email NOVA Online Student Life at elistulife@nvcc.edu for more details on registration.

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 OnlineStuLife@nvcc.edu for more information.

First day 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!

Preparing for an 8-week Summer course

Today’s blog post is written by a former NOVA Online Student when they enrolled in their first summer 8-week course. Summer courses begin Tuesday, May 16, Monday, May 22 and Monday, June 5. Follow this tutorial to search NOVA’s online courses.

I’m enrolling in my first eight-week course this summer. This got me thinking about how it might be different from the sixteen-week format I am more used to. Succeeding in an online course always requires good management of time. I must carefully balance school, work, and personal responsibilities. When the online class is an eight week or six week course, I am thinking that managing these elements will become much more critical.

Summer spring backgound with stack of books and open book and bokeh. Back to school. Open book fanned pages. Copy Space

Since an online sixteen week course should take three hours of coursework per credit each week, an Eight-week online course should take six hours of coursework per credit each week. For a three credit class, that works out to as much as an 18-hour a week part time job! Because of this, I decided to take only one class at a time until I see how I can integrate this workload with my work and social schedule.

I expect that the deadlines will also come much faster. Just eight days into my course, I will already be at the refund deadline, forcing me to decide whether or not I can handle the workload and get the grade I want or to drop the course and try the longer format in the Fall.

Because of this, I’m planning on logging into Blackboard on the course start date and completing the first assignment quickly. I’ll also need to look over the assignments and syllabus and see if I have any questions. Usually, I think for two or three days before I email my instructor, but with this class, I expect that if I have questions, I’ll need to write the instructor immediately—procrastinating even a few days would probably not be a good idea.

I’m really looking forward to the pleasant feel completing the course more quickly. I’ll get to feel the sense of accomplishment which keeps me motivated that much faster. I’m also telling myself I can deal with almost any schedule for two months—so it actually feels much more flexible than the traditional four-month courses. I’ll let you know if my opinion changes once the course actually starts.

How many of you have already taken a six or eight week course? Do you have any advice for me? I would love to know a little more about what to expect!

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 OnlineStuLife@nvcc.edu for more information.