Northern Virginia Community College Named “Achieving the Dream” Leader in College Graduation Rates

October 10, 2011

Students Walking

What does it take for a college or university to beat the odds and increase the rate at which it enrolls and graduates traditionally underrepresented students? A new report from HCM Strategists, supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, named  Northern Virginia Community College (NOVA) as an Achieving the Dream “leader school” in its profile of 32 colleges and universities that are considered national models for their efforts to improve student success and graduation rates among low-income and underrepresented minority students.

Beating the Odds With College Success

Beating the Odds: What it Means and Why it’s Important,” reports that approximately 2.2 million students will enroll as full-time freshmen in colleges and universities in the United States this fall, but less than 60 percent will earn a four-year degree within six years and less than 30 percent will earn a two-year degree within three years.

“The odds of a low-income American completing college haven’t changed in at least 20 years,” Kristin Conklin, founding partner at HCM Strategists, said in a statement. “NOVA is demonstrating how to beat those odds, ensure student success and help our economy recover. Today these campuses are the exception.”

NOVA’s Rising Graduation Rate

From 2000 to 2009, NOVA has seen the number of certificates and degrees conferred rise an impressive 66%. NOVA President Robert G. Templin, Jr. credits the college’s rising graduation rate to three programs, First-Year Experience, New Student Orientation and Pathway to the Baccalaureate, which provide personalized support for high-risk students beginning in high school and continuing through graduation from NOVA and enrollment at a four-year college or university.

Barnes & Noble Bookstore Supports Orientation Program

The New Student Orientation program is supported by all Barnes & Noble College NOVA campus bookstores. The Annandale branch bookstore is part of the orientation tour so students can understand the role it plays in their success. New students can see established students using the bookstore and cafe space to grab a quick bite to eat while studying, getting books and supplies for their classes, or meeting classmates/instructors for study sessions and additional assistance. The bookstore staff is primarily made up of students who can provide peer support to answer questions while they visit the store.

NOVA“This collaboration at Annandale has been greatly enhanced with our new bookstore space,” said NOVA-Annandale campus bookstore manager Michelle Rundblade. “It’s located in the student services building where students will find everything they need for their success. The first floor is comprised of admissions, counseling, testing center, financial aid, parking office, and the business office. The bookstore and cafe are located on the second floor and the 3rd floor houses several state-of-the-art classrooms. Each floor has areas where students can gather and study, individually or in groups, which is an added enhancement to the campus culture.”

Barnes & Noble College operates more than 630 campus bookstores nationwide from such institutions as Harvard, University of Pennsylvania, Tidewater Community College, and Kentucky Community & Technical College System, including 23 in the state of Virginia.

We promise unmatched retail excellence and deliver the next-generation of educational content. Is your bookstore a Barnes & Noble College bookstore? Visit to see a listing of our newest college partners. For more information about NOVA and its programs and services, visit

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