Category Archives: Student Blogger

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.

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 (username@email.vccs.edu) 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 OnlineStuLife@nvcc.edu for more information.