by Jalil Boulahssas

Northern Virginia Community College (NVCC), with campuses in nearby Annandale and Alexandria, is constantly a great option for Stuart students. Their Pathway program, which differs from regular admission, has been available since 2004.

The Pathway to the Baccalaureate program offered by NVCC offers select students a unique support system in achieving a four-year college education. It is designed to give high school graduates the opportunity to begin their college experience at the community college and make a smooth transfer into a four-year state school for their remaining two years of undergraduate studies.

“I have a very favorable opinion of the Pathway program, since many Stuart Pathway students have gone on to transfer and complete their college degrees,” said Stuart Career Center Specialist Carol Kelley.

The program was recently praised in The Washington Post for its efforts and ability to help students achieve success. Pathways provides students with unique tools and support not available elsewhere.

Students must first apply for admission. According to the NVCC website, there is no GPA requirement, however strong consideration is given to barriers to college access or success, recent high school grades, senior year attendance and future educational goals.

High school seniors who are accepted into the program will meet with a Pathway Counselor at their school in order to develop an individualized college plan and continue to work with them throughout their time in the Pathway program. Regular workshops, financial aid planning, constant academic advising and summer orientation programs are available to future students in order to insure the smoothest transition possible. Counselors and students have the opportunity to form a unique, personal relationship; one that research shows is directly related to student success.

After making the transition to NVCC, Pathways participants will continue to receive counselor support as well as peer support, academic skill-building and leadership development. When it comes time to move on, students receive hands-on assistance in the transfer process and students meeting certain standards are guaranteed admission into schools like George Mason, the University of Virginia, Virginia Tech and Virginia Commonwealth University.

“Any NOVA student can graduate and transfer to a four year college, but a Pathway student will have more support,” said Kelley.

For example, Pathway students looking to transfer to George Mason University are guaranteed admission upon completion of an A.A. or A.S. degree at NVCC with a 2.85 cumulative GPA. Students of the Pathways program have achieved enormous success and have saved thousands in tuition in the process.

“I strongly recommend the Pathway program to students who are 1st generation and who plan to graduate from NOVA and transfer to a four year college,” added Kelley.

For more information on NVCC, the Pathways program and other college opportunities, contact Stuart Career Center Specialist, Carol Kelley or Stuart’s NVCC counselor, Regina Sanders.