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Home > News & Events > Press Releases > 2009 > Wake up and smell the knowledge at NOVA

Press Releases

Wake up and smell the knowledge at NOVA

March 19, 2009

The students in Stephen Clarke’s English course deserve extra credit just for showing up. Why? Because the class starts at 6:30 a.m.

The early morning class at Northern Virginia Community College’s Reston Center was planned as an alternative to sitting in rush hour traffic. Located near the Dulles Toll Road, the Reston Center provides the perfect place to take a break from congested roads.

“Rather than waste time stuck in traffic, why not stop along the way and take a class or two? Put both your mind and your time to good use,” Provost Anthony Tardd said.

“We try to put our classes where the students are,” said Beverly Blois, dean of the Communication and Human Studies Division. “This applies to times, days and locations. Our Reston Center, designed to reach a community underserved by higher education, offers good access by public transportation and major roadways. With the easy access, we thought early classes might appeal to commuters, allowing them to ‘beat the rush’ on the way to class and then go to work after the worst rush-hour traffic has passed.”

Clarke says his students have adapted to the unusual schedule and feels the stress-free drive contributes to the class’ success.

“My students seem to enjoy the early morning,” Clarke said. “The lack of traffic combined with fantastic facilities at the Reston Center seems to create a positive mood. For students who work or attend other courses, a writing class may be the perfect way to start the day.  I expected at first that idea development would struggle but I have found the opposite to be true. Students seem more focused this early and discussion often progresses more efficiently and productively.”

Clarke’s students believe getting a head start on the day compensates for any lost sleep.

“This class helps get my day started early,” said Staci Celinski, who lives and works in Herndon. “Afterward, I go home, have some breakfast and go to work. Taking an ‘early bird’ class frees up the rest of your day.”

The English class isn’t the only course that meets at dawn. Other students arrive while the sun is rising to learn computer applications. Since the early classes have been so successful the concept will be extended to NOVA’s Loudoun Campus, also situated on a busy thoroughfare.

“In addition to offering more early classes at our Reston Center next fall, we plan to offer courses with 6:30 and 7 a.m. start times on the Loudoun Campus,” Tardd said. “Those classes will be convenient for people who commute along Route 7.”

NOVA offers classes in convenient locations and at various times to help busy students pursue a college education. Online courses are also available. Registration for the summer session begins March 31. Students can search for classes online at

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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 60,000 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,