Adventures of a Senior Citizen: A Senior Citizen Goes to Class

Attending NOVA as a senior citizen has it benefits!  In this post, our student contributor, Margaret Ransom provides her perspective and shares how attending NOVA has proven especially beneficial.


As a senior or “seasoned” citizen, I attend college for free.  The state of Virginia has mandated tuition waivers for citizens of my age for audit and for credit.  Tuition waivers for credit courses is reserved for those whose incomes fall within a prescribed range.  Classes are available on a space-available basis on the day before the 1st day of class.  According to Dr. Al Sears, you can slow or prevent the cognitive decline that sets in with age by challenging your mind every day.  Dr. Sears further states that “research shows the more you use your brain, the less your risk of Alzheimer’s disease.”  Attending college and especially working with a foreign language helps me to use my brain more.  “By stimulating your mind, you preserve your memory, and can and can even restore the clarity you had in your youth!”

This summer, my foreign language professor discovered that several “seasoned” citizens, including me, were accidentally dropped from the class roll after we started attending the class.  Having discovered this before the next class day, she was able to contact the registrar and by the time I went re-enroll, I was already back on the roll.

Seasoned citizens are eager to learn and may influence the younger students to take college more seriously.  Many senior citizens have traveled abroad and add excitement to a foreign language class.  Class is so much fun!!!

More about our Seasoned Senior Student Contributor, Margaret Ransom:

“Being a student at NOVA is a great opportunity for me.  I love the college environment and I am a firm believer that attending college improves the mind.  As I grow older chronologically, I want my thinking to improve and to bypass age-related cognitive decline.  Because I was born in a Leap Year, I am NOT really 63.  I have only had 15 birth anniversaries.  Every year for the past 3 February’s, I have gone to sleep on February 28th excited about waking up to a birthday celebration.  When I awakened, I discovered that it was already March 1st.  Next year is another Leap Year and I will finally wake up on my birth anniversary.  I can’t wait!!!

My previous experience includes information technology doing requirements analysis, writing assessments and analysis documents, software development, and software testing in support of telecommunications and other areas.  My experience in testing includes unit, integration, system, and acceptance testing to ensure that the software meets the user’s needs.  I also performed end-to-end testing to test the flow of applications from start to finish and ensure their proper integration with external interfaces.  Also performed regression testing to ensure that any changes or enhancements to the software did not introduce new faults or affect other parts of the software.

At Carnegie Mellon University, I was a teaching assistant where I was also involved in Artificial Intelligence research.  I obtained my Master’s degree in Mathematics from George Washington University.”



Summer Student Series: Politics in a Technology World

As you have seen (and read) previously, we’ve got a few guest bloggers here at Tech4Students.  Another one of those in our “Summer Student Series” is Annie Birge, a recent graduate of NOVA and now a student of the University of Virginia, starting this fall.  Annie has served as the SGA President here on the Alexandria campus, and has worked with many of the student organizations/clubs to better our local community.  Whether it is politics, technology, photography, or travel, Annie is always eager to share her thoughts and welcomes dialogue, with anyone, anytime.  She is charismatic and driven (a scary good combination) and while that comes through in the conversations you have with her, it shines bright in her blog as well.

Her most recent post is entitled “Voter Gravity.” Below is an excerpt from that post, along with a link to the full article.

“…I was tasked with searching for tools or resources that help campaigns GET OUT THE VOTE – the process that motivates constituents to exercise their voting rights and get to the polls.

For Grassroots campaigns, getting out the vote is difficult because unlike their money-loaded counterparts, they are unable to pay for valuable ways to reach the voters, like TV time. Grassroots organizations and campaigns take to free methods such as utilizing social media, door knocking, and phone banks, all taken on by usually unpaid volunteers.”

Annie’s full post on “Voter Gravity” here.

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A Perspective from a Returning Student




After being away from school for more than a decade, it’s taking some time getting acclimated. I worried about staying caught up, being organized and balancing my personal life. Here are some techniques and strategies that I found helpful that may benefit you, if you are a returning student like me.

Do your research– NOVA offers a web based program that allows you to research your professors called Rate My Professors. Use this tool to get to know your professor before taking their classes. Here is a link to the website:

  • Consider balance when choosing classes– Counselors will advise and direct you toward a specific plan but you will need to choose your classes wisely. Try selecting no more than two difficult classes and balancing them with an elective or something you enjoy. For example: If your Major is Business Administration and you have a passion for Math; I recommend taking Intro to Business, Communications and Math. I believe that you are more capable of doing your best when you are in balance.
  • Utilizing services on campus– TILT (Technology Innovation in Learning and Teaching) is a great resource for students. Located in the Bisdorf building (343), TILT is an active learning space where you can collaborate in small groups and utilize different technological equipment. The staff is also available to help you with various technology questions.

Be Smart! Take Advantage and Succeed!