ToBeMe@NOVA: First Generation College Students Resources

I would like to thank all those students that shared their experience and let us get a glimpse of what it is like to be a First Time Generation College Student at NOVA. Below you will find tips and resources for students and faculty to help enhance the experience of First Time Generation College Students at NOVA.

For Students:

Be an advocate for yourself. Being the first to attend college, you may have to learn about college life on your own. Much of your success will depend on the initiative you take to get things done. You will have to seek out the information you need in many instances and be prepared to do the necessary follow through to get what you need accomplished.

Ask questions and follow through. Don’t be intimidated by what you do not know and ask questions whenever you are unsure. Learning to ask the right questions is an invaluable skill that will serve you well throughout your matriculation at NOVA and beyond and you can start practicing it now.

Use your student support services. You don’t have to stumble through college making mistakes as you go simply because you don’t know where to start. You have an entire support staff here to guide you. If you have questions about where to begin, are uncertain who to talk to about a specific matter, reach out to our NOVA Online Student Success Team at 703-764-5076 or who can point you in the right direction. If you would like to get information on campus, click here to learn the resources available at the student services center at your nearest campus.

Learn from the experiences of others. Find a mentor, friend, family member, etc. that can help coach you through what adjusting to college life is really like and give you information on what to expect. Getting the perspective of another student or former student can offer you an outlook that talking to a staff member cannot always provide.

For Faculty:

Be mindful of students balancing multiple responsibilities. Many students pay for school out of pocket and have to work full-time or part-time jobs to fund their education. It is always helpful to have instructors that understand the importance and demand of working while in school and that are flexible with students, when appropriate. Sometimes simply communicating that you acknowledge and respect their other responsibilities can be enough to help students feel more comfortable to reach out when mitigating circumstances arise.

Keep lines of communication open with students. Invite students to reach out to you with any questions they may have. You can be a great resource for your students and, often, a great referral source.

Acknowledge that this is a very diverse group of students. These students come from families that may not have college degrees but they may be entrepreneurs, career military, skilled tradesmen, or other professionals that worked their way up without a degree. So often it seems that the term “first generation” is used broad based to mean students who have lots of risks to success. There are certainly students on all parts of the spectrum and faculty and staff should try to be mindful not to make assumptions about students and get to know them as individuals. Each student comes with their own experiences that make them unique and valuable.

If you would like more resources, please reach out to the NOVA Online Success Team at 703-764-5076 or

-Jennifer, NOVA Online Student Success Coach

ToBeMe@NOVA: First Generation College Students

For the month of February 2015, we will be highlighting NOVA’s First-Generation College Students. Many of NOVA’s students are the first person in their family or household to ever go to college and with that role comes a very unique experience. This distinguished student group, like the many we serve at NOVA, has unparalleled strengths and character that deserves to be celebrated.

We are asking our First Generation Students to share what it’s like to be a First Generation Student at NOVA. Over the next two weeks, we want to know how handle the expectations of others,  how you balance your coursework with all your other responsibilities, what it feels like to hold this position in your family, and anything more about your experience you think others need to know.

Please respond to this post with your comments and experiences. You may also post your response on NOVA Online’s Facebook and NOVA Online’s Twitter pages with the #ToBeMe@NOVA after your comment.

***Please make sure all comments are appropriate for an academic setting. Please refrain from posting obscenities, profanity, and otherwise offensive remarks***

Be on the look out for First Generation College Student resources for students, faculty, and staff on the next ToBeMe@NOVA posting on Feb. 27, 2015!

ToBeMe@NOVA: Veteran/Active Duty Military Students Resources

Thank you to all students who shared what it’s like to be a Veteran/Active Duty Military student at NOVA. Below you will find some helpful resources and tips for students and faculty to better serve this great student population.

For Students:

Stay in contact with your instructor. For active military students and students who are family members of active duty soldiers, orders can come without much warning and it can take a toll on academic performance without the right support. Such mitigating circumstances need to be shared with instructors immediately to discuss any accommodations. If you need additional help with exploring your options, reach out to Military Services (see below for contact info) and NOVA Online Success Coaches (

Testing Information. Many military students live outside of the Northern Virginia area and need to make arrangements to ensure all course exams are done in a timely manner. You have the option of taking NOVA Online Course Exams at a location more convenient for you through the Proctor Approval Process. Please click here for more testing information and infomation how to find a proctor to take your exams near you!

Use our Office of Military Services. NOVA offers our Veteran, Active Duty, and Military dependents/spouses/families resources and services they need to make their educational experience as enriching as possible. Reach out to the Office of Military Services to get more information and find a Veteran Advisor and a Military Site Representative at or call 703.293.8132.

For Faculty

Keep lines of communication open. Create an environment in which students feel comfortable to come to you as issues arise.

Know where to refer students. You will often be the first point of contact for our students so you need to be aware of the appropriate referrals to make. You can send your students to the Office of Military Services for assistance and have them reach out to NOVA Online Success Coaches if you aren’t sure where to start.

Be empathic. Addressing students with a tone of understanding and support can go a very long way.

If you have any questions please reach out to the Office of Military Services or email NOVA Online Student Success Coaches.

–Jennifer, NOVA Online Student Success Coach