A Different Path to a 4-year Degree

A Different Path to a 4-year Degree

NOVA’s Guaranteed Admissions Program gives students opportunities to attend their dream schools.

Noor Naveed hopes to become the first person in her family to graduate from college. After graduating from NOVA, she transferred to George Mason University.

Noor Naveed hopes to become the first person in her family to graduate from college. After graduating from NOVA, she transferred to George Mason University. Photo courtesy of Noor Naveed


NOVA Community students can earn admission to more than 40 colleges and universities through the school’s guaranteed admission agreements.

Noor Naveed immigrated to the United States from Pakistan with her family shortly after the 9/11 attacks. The family settled in Northern Virginia and, years later, Naveed graduated from Hayfield Secondary School in Alexandria. She dreams of becoming the first person in her family to graduate from college.

“My mother was forced to drop out of junior high and at 32 got her GED. I just knew that there wasn’t anyone in my immediate family who had graduated from college and was determined to be the first person,” said Naveed. “I knew I wanted to [go to] George Mason because I didn’t want loans and I knew I could pay for George Mason out of pocket.”

Naveed used Northern Virginia Community College’s Guaranteed Admissions Program to complete her associate of arts degree and is now finishing a bachelor’s degree in criminology, law and society at George Mason University in Fairfax.

“Counselors were great at telling me what classes I should take so they would transfer,” she said. “Almost all of my classes transferred.”

NOVA’s admissions agreements guarantee current and future NOVA students who earn associate degrees admission to more than 40 four-year colleges and universities.

Students have to meet certain academic requirements, such as earning a minimum grade point average, to be accepted into their chosen four-year colleges.

“It’s very beneficial to the students because before these agreements, there weren’t any parameters as to what it takes to be admitted to universities,” said Julia Brown, coordinator for transfer policy at Northern Virginia Community College. “As long as you have a certain GPA, the guaranteed admission agreement takes all of the guess work out of whether you will qualify. It is a huge relief. … Students don’t want to waste money or time by taking a class that isn’t needed.”

NOVA officials say that popular majors include engineering, nursing, computer science and general studies.

For example, a student can earn an associates degree in engineering from NOVA then transfer to Virginia Tech’s College of Engineering or the University of Virginia’s School of Engineering and Applied Science. A student who might be unsure of the major he plans to pursue can earn a general studies degree and then transfer to George Mason University.


Amy Zuaso became the first person in her family to graduate from college. She says the guaranteed admission agreements at NOVA allowed her to complete her associate’s degree and transfer to her dream school: James Madison University.

George Mason University, University of Virginia and Virginia Tech are the top transfer schools for NOVA graduates.

“The [Guaranteed Admission Agreement] program allowed me to complete my associate’s degree close to home. The GAA gave me the opportunity to transfer to my dream school, James Madison University, with ease and with no debt,” said Amy Zuaso, a first-year advising specialist at NOVA. “At NOVA, I met with a JMU transfer representative that informed me about a full ride scholarship program, The Centennial Scholars Program, that I applied for and was awarded. Starting at NOVA first and using the GAA helped me graduate from a four-year school and to be the first person in my family to graduate from college.”

Zuaso is now completing an online master’s degree in counseling at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va.

THE PROGRAM WAS CREATED after the release of a workforce trends report prepared by George Mason University’s Center for Regional Analysis showed professional, scientific, technical and health care fields as the key sources of new net job growth in Northern Virginia from 2010 to 2020.

“The GAA is designed to offer students a seamless transfer process,” said Darren Troxler, associate dean of admissions and chief transfer officer at George Mason University. “Students who meet all of the requirements for GAA admission are not only guaranteed transfer admission to Mason, but are considered juniors for class standing, registration and financial aid purposes, and are considered to have completed the Mason Core, our lower-level general education requirement.”


For more information on the Guaranteed Admission Agreement program, visit www.nvcc.edu/academics/gaa/

Troxler says another advantage to GAA enrollment is the significant cost savings for students and parents. “There is a $271 per credit hour differential in tuition rates between Mason and NOVA for Virginia residents,” he said. “Students will realize a significantly lower debt burden by taking advantage of the Virginia Community College System.”