As a student at Bishop Ireton High School in Alexandria, Andrea Luna wanted to attend a four-year university and was hesitant about community college. But Andrea came to the realization that she didn’t feel strongly about one particular higher education institution over another and wasn’t sure what she wanted to study.
Born and raised in Northern Virginia, Andrea said she wasn’t sure about Northern Virginia Community College at first, even though her father spoke very highly of the institution. She said she can’t recall community college being high on the priority list of options people talked about when she was in high school.
“Through my high school years, they were always encouraging us to further our education and go on to four-year universities. They never really brought up community college as much,” she said. “I was always hesitant to go to NOVA because in high school we were told we should go to four-year universities and I didn’t want to feel left out.”
After taking the SATs in her junior year, Andrea applied to one college – a four-year higher education institution that she didn’t know a lot about. She said she figured she would just apply to other universities in the D.C. metro area before graduating the next year. However, her senior year came around and she decided that committing herself to a university that she wasn’t passionate about was not the best idea.
“By November of my senior year, I decided that I didn’t need to do that. There’s NOVA. My dad supports NOVA and at the time, I knew people who had attended NOVA and ended up attending Virginia Tech and UVA later,” Andrea said. “So I finally decided that I was going to go to NOVA and I felt that was the right decision.
Once she made the decision to attend NOVA, Andrea made the most of her experience. She enjoys being involved and didn’t hesitate to join a number of clubs and student organizations. During her first year, she was secretary of the Student Government Association for the Annandale Campus and is now serving as its vice president.
Her involvement on campus and in the classroom is very similar to the experience she imagined she would have attending a four-year college or university along with her friends. Andrea said she figured out that going to a four-year university immediately out of high school isn’t always the best option for everyone. There are other ways to succeed in education and your chosen career path.
After being a part-time student her first semester at NOVA, Andrea enrolled full time and will receive an associate degree in business administration in fall 2017. She then hopes to enroll at Mary Washington where she hopes to study business administration and English.
“When I first started here, I didn’t know what I wanted to study. I figured I would get some of my general education completed while I found something I liked,” she said. “I’ve always been interested in business but didn’t know much about it. So I’ve been able to learn a lot about business, and NOVA has given me the opportunity to be more outgoing, work on public speaking and interact with other students.”
Andrea encourages graduating high school students to take their time in deciding their next steps and to explore different options. In the future, she hopes to have a long career in business where she can also apply her love of writing. In fact, she’s getting a head start in building a professional portfolio by working with a group of partners with an education company that teaches younger children about STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) and STEAM (Science Technology Engineering, Arts and Math).
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 the Extended Learning Institute. For more information about NOVA and its programs or services, call 703-323-3000 or visit the College's Web site, www.nvcc.edu.