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Adan Eftekhari provides insight into starting and excelling in NOVA’s Dual Enrollment Program

NOVA Student, Jose Alvarez

Adan Eftekhari, an excited student at both Fairfax High School and NOVA works hard at both institutions to earn high school credits and college credits at the same time. Here is his insight into starting and excelling in NOVA’s Dual Enrollment Program, which allows students to earn college credit while still attending high school.

Please tell us a little bit about yourself and your background?

Hello, I truly appreciate this opportunity to reflect on my academic career and answer a few of the questions you guys have for me. First off, let me introduce myself: my name is Adan Eftekhari and I am currently a freshman at Fairfax High School and enrolled in the Dual-Enrollment Program at NOVA.

Since my elementary years, I have enjoyed all subjects in school and possess a love for learning. In past years, I have attended a number of advanced programs, been a part of multiple extra-curricular activities related to STEM such as Science Olympiad and First Lego League and competed in numerous academic competitions where I represented my school on both regional and national levels. My love and passion for learning and academic achievement only motivated me to expand my scholastic career further, completing a majority of my high school math credits while in middle school, taking my PSATs early and qualifying for the NOVA Dual-Enrollment Program as a high school freshman. Since then, I have successfully completed 29 college credits, ranging from English, Math, Foreign Language and Elective courses, while maintaining NOVA’s Dean’s List, continuing my straight-A record, and earning a total GPA of 4.5. 

Looking ahead at the end of this school year and this upcoming summer, I plan to continue working hard to end my freshman year strong and take my first NOVA history class during the summer semester. In the near future, I look forward to continuing my strong work ethic and academic excellence as I continue taking NOVA classes in addition to my advanced high school classes. My goal for the next 3-4 years is to end all my classes with A’s, maintaining a GPA above 4.0.

Besides studying and learning new things that I am passionate about, in my free time, I enjoy hanging out with friends and playing soccer. In fact, I currently play for the Vienna Eagles, a local, highly-ranked travel club team. In addition, I was recently successful in my high school’s soccer team tryouts and am now the starting right-winger on Fairfax High School’s Junior Varsity team.

What brought you to NOVA?

Two great programs that NOVA offers — the Dual-Enrollment Program and Guaranteed Admission Agreements — are what lured me to the school, as they are great opportunities to further my long-term academic goals. As a Dual-Enrollment Student, I will be able to work toward my associate degree while in high school and graduate from high school early. This will put me on the path to finish my associates and enroll in a four-year university that has a Guaranteed Admissions Agreement with NOVA — helping me accomplish my long-term university goals faster.

How do you feel juggling both high school and college courses at 15?

Though being a Dual-Enrollment student might sound simple, it requires great discipline, determination and dedication, similar to Advanced Placement classes. It’s quite a juggle. On weeks where I’m given extremely heavy workloads in homework and studying for both high school and NOVA classes, it is not infrequent to come across days where I’m on my computer and completing assignments for a majority of the day with few breaks. The busy routine certainly gets tiring, especially on evenings rushing home from soccer practice to finish writing an essay or study for an exam, though situations like these are when discipline, determination and dedication become vital.

Though my school workload can get burdensome as a Dual-Enrollment student, it is important for me to remember that all the studying and effort I do now will prepare me for the future workload at a four-year university and even graduate school. I also truly enjoy reading, practicing math and learning about new subjects, which make the “juggle” relatively fun.

What are your educational goals? We heard UVA (so exciting!), are there any other schools you’re applying to?

As I mentioned previously, looking ahead toward the end of my high school and NOVA careers, my goals are to maintain Dean's List and keep up my exceptional GPA. In doing so, I plan to continue working hard in and out of school, aspiring to graduate as Valedictorian of my class and becoming a leader in my community through volunteering.

Upon graduation, I will strive to receive an associate of science degree with honors from NOVA, and enroll in an academically-reputable university. I plan to apply to a few Ivy League schools, as well as the University of Virginia through NOVA’s Guaranteed Admissiona Agreement.

What are your career goals?

With the ongoing pandemic and global health security crisis affecting lives all across the world, I feel motivated to attend graduate school and pursue a career in the STEM field, particularly in medicine or biomedical engineering, so that I can positively impact people. Since my early elementary years, I have been fortunate to earn top awards at school and regional science fairs several years in a row, including the annual George Mason Regional Science and Engineering Fair. I hope to take my passion for science to the next level and work with a reputable firm or medical think-tank.

How was the shift to online learning for you?

At the start of the pandemic, when quarantine protocols went into effect and schools shifted to online learning, I enjoyed the change. I could sleep in later, spend more time with my family, learn in a new environment with a different method of communication and no longer had to commute to school everyday. I was also in middle school at the time and did not have very heavy workloads when it came to homework and studying,granting me more free time. However, this enjoyment gradually faded away over the course of the next two months.

I began to miss seeing my school friends everyday and visiting my grandparents’ house every weekend. I also no longer had soccer practices and games, which really upset me. When it came to online learning, I felt as if it was becoming more and more boring, and I noticed the lower levels of teacher-to-student and student-to-student interaction. In addition, school didn’t pose the fun and motivating academic challenges that it used to back during in-person learning.

I held on to this perspective until summer of 2020 when I took my first NOVA courses. School started getting challenging again, and I felt as if I was learning at the same pace as before the pandemic.

Not only do I enjoy the constant challenges that my Dual-Enrollment schedule provides, even if they come with great amounts of homework and stress, but I am also fond of the way most of my professors have responded to online learning. Though they have faced new teaching obstacles, they have found a way to persevere and make learning environments similar to an in-person setting. Despite teaching behind screens, they have found ways to interact with their students, making the class enjoyable, while maintaining a sense of seriousness and a determination for their students to succeed, which are both extremely important factors I keep in mind.

What would you tell an incoming NOVA student?

Here are three tips I would share with an incoming NOVA student:

Develop the Habit of Working Ahead - By preparing and working ahead, you do your future-self a favor. Getting a head start on school work not only reduces stress and anxiety, but also improves your productivity. Those who procrastinate will have multiple assignments waiting for them in the future, so by completing assignments early, you can also plan ahead for later weeks where your workload might be heavier than usual. In addition, if an emergency or unexpected event arises sometime later in the semester, you will be able to deal with it without jeopardizing your grades when you had your work done in advance.

Create an Ideal, Productive Schedule for Yourself - Schedules are important for staying on track and fulfilling all of your responsibilities. For example, it is a lot easier to study for your math class every week when you set out a certain period during the week to do so. The most appealing aspect of schedules is that they are self-sustaining. It is much easier to stick to your routine, get things done, and then continue moving forward with your schedule after you've developed the habit.

Do Not Be Shy to Ask for Help - Whether you wish to improve your current standing or are having difficulties with something, always look for resources. For example, if you're having trouble with your coursework, reach out to a professor, classmate or your advisor/counselor for guidance and support. Asking for help can also get you in contact with important campus resources such as tutoring centers, websites, methods of learning and other professional assets to help you succeed in your studies. It is important that you try not to isolate yourself when attempting to deal with or fix a problem that is too severe to handle on your own. There are always people around you, especially on campus, who can be resourceful and help.

Northern Virginia Community College is the largest institution of higher education in the Commonwealth of Virginia and one of America's largest community colleges. NOVA enrolls more than 75,000 students at its six campuses in Alexandria, Annandale, Loudoun, Manassas, Springfield and Woodbridge, and through NOVA Online. For more information about NOVA and its programs or services, call 703-323-3000 or visit the College's Web site, www.nvcc.edu.

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