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 or to schedule a career advising appointment.

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

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.

NOVA Works to protect your ID – You should too!

Colleges and universities across the United States work diligently to protect student information.  Unfortunately, criminal operators are also at work attempting to use stolen identities and personal information to inappropriately secure student loans and other financial aid. Just recently, this issue hit home at Northern Virginia Community College as our school was targeted by identity thieves who were able to use other people’s identities to obtain federal student loans in a scheme that targeted NVCC and other schools. This blog provides tips for students to protect their information from identity thieves and outlines how NVCC is committed to protecting student data.privacy - small

NVCC provides various security protocols and technologies to ensure that your student information is protected from identity thieves. In the recent targeting of NVCC in the student loan scheme, it should be recognized that no student information at NVCC was compromised. Rather, as Alexandra News reports, the thieves used the identities of non-students to pose as students at NVCC. These identities were used to obtain federal student loans as the thieves posed as students at NVCC and other colleges and universities around the United States.

Even though no NVCC student identities were appropriated by the thieves, this student loan scheme highlights the importance of protecting your identity and reporting potential theft to authorities and school officials. There are several key actions you can take to ensure that your identity remains protected:

  • Protect your social security number. Your social security number is the primary target of identity thieves as it is the foundation for establishing an appropriated identity to secure financial aid, including student loans. Never provide your social security number to any person or institution unless you are confident in their credibility. Know your number by memory and never keep your number or social security card in your wallet or purse. NEVER give your MyNOVA password, FSA ID or other passwords to anyone!  If you think a password has been compromised, change it immediately.  Be alert for any suspicious activity, and address it.
  • Never respond to unsolicited requests for your information. Identity thieves often pose as official representatives of banks, schools, or government agencies over the telephone. Never provide personal information to someone who has called you unless you are certain that person is calling from the organization he or she claims to represent.
  • Destroy your paperwork. Bank, credit card, and school paperwork can contain vital information that can be used by identity thieves. Use a shredder or other means to safely and wholly destroy your paperwork. Securing paperless billing and communications from your financial and other institutions is another great way to avoid appropriation of your documentation.
  • Install firewalls and virus detection software. Your mobile and computing devices offer another opportunity for identity thieves to steal your identity. Make sure that all your devices have appropriate security software installed to prevent intrusion. Such software is usually provided by the manufacturer of the device and the software provider.
  • Create complex passwords. Your password should contain numbers, characters, and a mix of lowercase and uppercase format.

Lastly, NVCC calls upon all students to REPORT SUSPICIOUS ACTIVITY that might indicate identity theft. If you think someone might be involved in stealing your information or that of someone you know, contact NVCC Police or your local law enforcement agency ASAP. Such activity can include observing an individual who appears to be physically snooping over the shoulder of a student working on a computer. Or perhaps you have received an unsolicited telephone call from someone claiming to represent NVCC or your financial institution.

NVCC seeks to partner with students in fighting identity theft.   We are very careful in all processes and cautious in disbursing aid.  Financial aid provides necessary support for many students, and identity theft represents a serious threat to this vital source of student aid and academic accomplishment.  Please help us help you!


“Identity Theft.” Retrieved from

“Two Plead Guilty to Student Loan Fraud Scheme Targeting NVCC.” Retrieved from

Are you ready for your first day? Join us to learn more!

Are you enrolled in your first online learning course this fall? Or, have you taken an online course previously and want to ensure that you are headed in the right direction? Do you have any questions about using Blackboard to complete your NOVA Online course? A great place to start is with the NOVA Online Orientation website. 463461567A webinar is a live, online instruction session. You can participate in a webinar from any computer or mobile device with Internet access and speakers. A microphone is not required as we will use a text chat for all questions. Participation in all webinars offered through NOVA Online is free, but registration is required. Register for a live session or request a copy of the recording on the NOVA Online Webinar webpage.

The NOVA Online Orientation webinar is a live, one hour online instruction session geared for students already enrolled in courses. The webinar will focus on getting started, navigating your Blackboard course site, taking online exams, identifying tips for success, and highlighting student support services. During the webinar, you will have the opportunity to ask any questions you have before you start your course.

The NOVA Online Orientation will cover an overview of navigating your Blakcboard Course Site. Instructors make courses available on the course start date or sometimes a few days in advance. If you haven’t used Blackboard in the past, you may be interested in some short videos to review how to submit an assignment, post on discussion board, check grades, etc.

The web conference tool we use at NOVA Online is Blackboard Collaborate. You can test your connection ahead of time by following the steps in this NOVA Online Student Blog post.

This webinar will not satisfy the Student Orientation requirement for the Start Strong Policy at NOVA. Need help enrolling? Participate in a Student Orientation at any campus or online through NOVA Online.

Connect with NOVA Online on Facebook and Twitter for tips for success in your online courses. NOVA Online Student Success Coaches are available for any questions as you are getting started. Reach out to them at NOVA or 703.323.3347.

SmarterMeasure Assessment

Thinking about an online course through NOVA Online, but not sure if it’s the right fit for your learning styles? Take the SmarterMeasure Assessment to learn more!

SmarterMeasure Logo

SmarterMeasure is an assessment that measures learner readiness for Northern Virginia Community College’s Extended Learning Institute (NOVA Online). SmarterMeasure is an indicator of the degree to which online learning and/or learning in a technology rich environment will be a good fit for you.

SmarterMeasure is meant to be an interesting experience by which you may learn more about yourself, online learning, and how to succeed! Your SmarterMeasure score will not prevent you from registering for online classes. Take your time to rate yourself honestly. It is a tool that will help you assess your strengths and opportunities for growth related to online learning in 6 areas.

1. Life Factors
2. Individual Attributes – procrastination, time management, willingness to ask for help, academic attributes
3. Learning Styles – what is your predominant learning style?
4. Technical Competency, Skills, and Knowledge
5. Reading Rate and Recall
6. Typing Speed and Accuracy

You will receive a full color report immediately following the completion of all areas of SmarterMeasure. You may email this report, print it, or download and save for future reference. It also provides some resources related to each area of the assessment. For more information about SmarterMeasture, review the SmarterMeasure Assessment Webinar.

If you are visiting Northern Virginia Community College Extended Learning Institute and would like to determine if online learning is right for you, please use the following login information:

Log into: (Login as First Time User on the right side of screen)

Username: Online Learning Webinar (Select from drop down)

Password: Eli123 (Case sensitive)

Please note that this information is for your use and instructors are not expected to make special accommodations for students based on SmarterMeasure results. If you think you will need additional educational accommodations please reach out to NOVA Online Counselors at for any further assistance on acquiring such accommodations.

NOVA Student Email Address

NOVA students are required to use their NOVA email ( when communicating with the college – Faculty, Staff, Financial Aid, Advisor, etc.  The college sends important information, updates, and reminders  to students via their NOVA/VCCS email address.  Man holding mobile smart phone with message on its screenAccess your student email by logging into MyNOVA and clicking on the Gmail tab. Get into the habit as you are checking Blackboard, to check your student email account.

Failing to check your email on a regular basis may result in missing important communication to include course and NOVA reminders/updates.

Information regarding your NOVA email account can be found on NOVA’s website.

If you experience difficulty accessing your MyNOVA account, please contact the IT Help Desk (phone, email, live chat can be found on their website).

Have you checked your NOVA email today? If not, check it!

Working through Test Anxiety

Tests have a way of working people up into a serious frenzy. The stakes are much higher around exam time and the pressure becomes almost palpable without the right preparation. There are a number of strategies to help you prepare yourself mentally and physically for an upcoming exam and lower the anxiety around test-taking. Here are some quick tips that may be useful for you in the future:

Change how you view the test. Often our performance is impacted by our perception of the task at hand; if you look at the test as an impending doom, you will respond to it that way. You can conquer anything and you will not be defeated by a little test J. First things first, think of it as an “assignment” (because that’s essentially what it is, it just covers more course material) to take away some of its fear factor.

Create a simulated testing experience for studying. Try to create a studying environment that is as close to the actual testing environment as possible to get used to what taking the exam will really be like on exam day. How can you do this? Try these simple strategies:

If taking the exam in a testing center

Visit the center ahead of time to observe the atmosphere. Is there a lot of people, will you be sitting next to someone, is it cold in the room, etc.? Making note of these things will help you recreate the setting at home when studying.

Try doing practice tests with a timer in front of you to make it easier to perform with a timer when you take the exam. Exams in the testing center are often timed and the timer appears as a countdown on the computer screen during the exam.

If using ProctorU

Do all studying in the spot where you will be taking the test on exam day. This can help your memory because the environment will serve as a cue to help you recall information.

Create practice tests. Look at the textbook publisher’s website to create practice tests. You can also check out Flashcards+ and Quizlet to make flashcards to help you study.

Practice relaxation techniques before and during the exam. The more relaxed you are, the more likely you are to recall the information you’ve studied. On the day of the exam, check out the Omvana app for quick meditation exercises, listen to your favorite song and dance to it to release any physical discomfort (really get into it!), or anything else that calms you. Here is a strategy you can try when taking the “assignment”:

Take relaxation breaks when you hit benchmarks on the exam. For instance, once you have completed three questions/problems/ scenarios, pause, sit up straight with a soft smile on your face, and close your eyes. Breathe deeply and slowly rotate your head in complete circles in both directions. Rotate your shoulders to the front in slow circles and again in the opposite direction. Do as many rotations as necessary. Return to the “assignment” when you feel calmer. You can do this exercise after any number of questions you choose and as often as you need.

Do not worry about those around you; do whatever you need to do to take care of yourself. If at any time during the test you feel tense, return to the relaxation exercise. Pace yourself and take problems one at a time; do not jump or look ahead. And remember, you always know more than you think you do! You will do great! Namaste.

Written by NOVA Online Success Coach, Jennifer. If you have questions or would benefit from additional strategies, reach out to a NOVA Online Success Coach today by calling 703.323.3347 or From test taking strategies to time management, we are here to answer your questions and help you access resources that will empower you to navigate the semester and pave your way to a successful academic journey.

What does a snow day mean for your NOVA Online courses?

With winter here it is important to be aware of NOVA’s inclement weather policy and know what that means for your NOVA Online courses.  Staying informed will allow you to plan accordingly and stay safe! NOVA makes it easy for you to stay up-to-date in the event of an emergency closing or delay. snow dayIf the College is closed or delayed due to an emergency or inclement weather, a text alert will be sent to cell phones registered on NOVA Alert, a notice will be posted on the home page of the College’s website, and a message will appear on our cable television station as well as several local radio and television stations. The College also uses several media sources to announce delays and closings. The Emergency Preparedness website provides more information as you are planning ahead.

What does this mean for your NOVA Online class?

All in-person class sessions, and in-person labs will be canceled or delayed based on NOVA’s announcements. If you are planning to take an exam at the campus testing center, you will want to note that any closings or delays will affect campus testing center hours. Campus closing and delays will affect all campus offices, tutoring centers, and libraries.

Keep in mind, even when the college is closed, you can still log into Blackboard to access your NOVA Online courses.  A snow day is the perfect time to work on assignments and get ahead. If you have a live, virtual session scheduled, that meeting may still take place. Be sure to check your student email and blackboard announcement section to find out if the closing or delay will affect your NOVA Online course or if due dates have been changed due to the weather.

If you have not already, sign up for NOVA Alert today!

SmarterMeasure: Life Factors

SmarterMeasure logoMany students strongly desire to continue their education. However, often other situations in life prevent them from being able to do so. The Life Factors section of SmarterMeasure asks questions about other elements in your life that may impact your ability to continue your education. The section measures five items: Time, Place, Reason, Resources, and Skills.

You may be able to modify circumstances which impact some of these life skills. If so, you are encouraged to take appropriate action to help yourself succeed. But some of the circumstances in life may be beyond your control. If this is the case, being aware of these realities and planning accordingly may be beneficial for you.

The NOVA Online staff offer several webinars throughout the semester to help you succeed in your NOVA Online Courses. You might be specifically interested in the Student Lingo on-demand workshop called Maximizing Your College Experience. For all webinars and on-demand workshops, visit the NOVA Online Webinar page.

To obtain log-in information for the SmarterMeasure assessment, email from your VCCS email account. Once you complete the SmarterMeasure assessment, you can find more information in the ‘Assessment Summary’ section.