Have you ever considered starting your college career at a community college? Many students do, and for many different reasons –to stay close to home, to save money, to pursue a certificate or associates program and begin their career earlier, to prepare for a 4-year college, and/or to access the guaranteed admissions agreements with other 4-year colleges. Northern Virginia Community College (NOVA)  is the largest public educational institution in Virginia and the second-largest community college in the United States, comprised of more than 75,000 students and 2,600 faculty and staff members. NOVA is also one of the most internationally diverse colleges in the United States, with a student body consisting of individuals from more than 180 countries.

Fairfax County Public Schools and NOVA have a great relationship. The Career Center at Oakton High School is a great resource for researching and preparing for NOVA. We work closely with or NOVA representation to offer:

  • College Visit/Information Sessions (Fall & Winter)
  • Application sessions (Winter)
  • Placement test review sessions (Winter)
  • Placement tests at Oakton (Spring)
  • Field trip to NOVA (Spring)


Some FAQ:

What is the “Pathways” program and does Oakton offer it?

Pathway to the Baccalaureate is a student program offered at select high schools that aids students in transitioning from high school to Northern Virginia Community College, as well as transferring to George Mason or other 4-year universities. This program is a joint program offered by NOVA at select high schools in the Northern Virginia area. Oakton High School is not a participating school. For more information, visit

Please note that the Pathways program is a support program for high school students, but is not a prerequisite for admission to NOVA. Any graduating senior can apply and be accepted to NOVA (regardless of whether they have participated in a Pathways program).


Can I go to any college after NOVA?

Yes, you can apply to any 4-year college after NOVA. NOVA does offer “guaranteed admissions” agreements with select colleges to ease your transition to a 4 year college, but you can apply to transfer to any school if you would like. For more on what “guaranteed admissions” means and which schools NOVA partners with, visit  Also note that guaranteed admissions programs typically require two full years at NOVA to proceed, however, students may also consider transferring to a college after a year if they would prefer. You should work closely with your transfer counselor at NOVA as well as the college you are hoping to attend.


What if I don’t want to go to a 4 year college?

NOVA offers many programs - from certificate programs (such as HVAC, refrigeration, collision repair, phlebotomy  , etc.) to other associates programs (cyber security, dental hygiene, medical diagnostics, veterinary technology, etc.) in career fields that may not require higher education. Although many students choose to attend NOVA for two years to earn their general studies associate's degree and then pursue their bachelor’s at a 4 year institution, there are many more paths and degree programs available at NOVA to prepare students for a variety of careers with varying educational requirements. For more information, explore:


What placement tests do I have to take and when?

All students planning to attend NOVA will need to be assessed for placement into English and Math classes. Students must do this by taking the Math & English placement tests. Students may be exempt from the placement tests if they meet certain criteria, such as qualifying SAT, ACT, or AP scores (see for more information).

The placement tests may be taken at NOVA in their testing center nearly daily (see for testing center hours and further information).

Oakton students may also select to take the placement tests at Oakton in the spring.  In order to participate, students must have already completed their NOVA application and must bring a photo ID. Be on the lookout for emails from the Career Center for dates and how to sign up.

For more information on NOVA’s Placement Test policy, visit:


Will NOVA work with me in regards to my learning disability?

NOVA is committed to ensuring all students have an opportunity to pursue a college education regardless of the presence or absence of a disability and will provide reasonable accommodations in providing course, program, and building modification, and/or auxiliary aids and services in compliance with Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act (ADAAA) of 2008.

Having an IEP or 504 in high school does not guarantee that you will receive accommodations, however. College disability services must be understood and advocated for. For more information, visit:


Does NOVA have an Honors program?

Yes! Check out more information at:


Have further questions about NOVA? Take time to look through the materials on their website and stop by the Career Center.