The NOVA Program is the only K-12 independent study program in Marin County that offers classes to students seeking an alternative form of school, or those who wish to take one or two particular courses online rather than in a classroom. This year, more students at San Marin have opted to enroll into the program compared to any other year.
“I’ve had more sophomores this year enroll in NOVA than I’ve ever had,” counselor Laura Triantafyllos said. “It could be because [they are] a very large class—about 30% larger than the other classes.”
Triantafyllos said that some students are under the misconception that NOVA is easy.
“Online learning is very challenging and takes a lot of self-discipline,” Triantafyllos said.
Students who wish to enroll in NOVA must complete an application, where they are required to submit their reason for attending NOVA and list their talents and hobbies. The student has the option to request co-enrollment. Co-enrollment is being enrolled into two separate educational establishments. They would also include if they’re in a specialized program such as STEM.
A total of seven students enrolled in NOVA in the first semester of this school year, with four of the students coming from the sophomore class.
Since more students are enrolling in the program, it raises the question of whether or not the program should be offered at the students choice.
“I don’t think NOVA is good or bad, it is just an alternative to a traditional comprehensive high school,” Triantafyllos said.
She believes it would be a good choice for independent and organized students who are not worried about missing the social aspects of high school.
With more sophomores wanting to enroll into the NOVA program, they end up missing important tests that would be evaluated by colleges.
“We review test scores each year, [and] adjust the curriculum accordingly and offer support services for students who do not meet standards in math or english,” NOVA counselor Roxanne Edwards-Georges said.
Students shared their different perspectives and experiences from the NOVA program. They also added their reason for the decision of enrolling into the program.
Sophomore Syda Hand initially chose NOVA because she thought it would allow her to work more efficiently, but did not follow through.
“I rethought my decision to do NOVA because I thought it would be more beneficial to me to just keep going to regular school everyday,” Hand said. “I think more students choose to do NOVA because it’s easier. You don’t have to wake up early and go to school in the morning and stay there for 6-7 hours as opposed to waking up later and completing your work in 2-3 hours.”
UCLA student Cate Guempel, a former NOVA student, was co-enrolled in two San Marin classes and two Santa Rosa Junior College classes for her last two years of high school.
“NOVA is not meant to compete with traditional education and I believe is unfairly compared, often times,” Guempel said. “It is simply another route that students can take. For me, it made school more enjoyable and I was able to align my learning with my passions. I cannot say this will be the case for everyone, but I think it should be more accepted and advertised so that the students who need a different way to learn have access to it.”
Sophomore Macie Parmenter started NOVA in February of last year. Parmenter hoped this different way of learning would help her cope with her anxiety and depression. Parmenter believes NOVA demands self-discipline and motivation.
“One of the downsides of NOVA is that it is not a good fit for academically challenged students,” Parmenter said. “Learning from a textbook can be confusing, especially when you only see your teacher once a week.Parents don’t have to commit to homeschooling or spend precious time and money on a private or alternative school. It truly is a wonderful programme and I’m not sure where I would be today without it.”
In contrast, Parmenter said that NOVA may not be a good alternative for students who are academically inclined, either.
“For the super students out there, NOVA might not be a good option, because while you can learn as much as you want, NOVA only provides basic classes and a few measly electives, no APs or a wide variety of electives,” Parmenter said. “NOVA can also get rather lonely at times. I’ve actually started to miss group projects.”