Everything You Need to Know 

NapaLearns Virtual Career Academy FAQs

Applications Are Closed for Fall 2020

Our application period for Fall 2020 is closed. If you would like to hear more about future offerings with the NapaLearns Virtual Career Academy, we can add you to our mailing list. Please complete our contact form and include in your message, “Yes, I want to hear about future NapaLearns Virtual Career Academy course offerings.” 

We will contact you before the next session starts. Thank you for your interest!

I'm Interested in Future Courses

Program Overview Questions

1. How do I sign up?
There are 4 steps to signing up for this unique opportunity:

    1. Attend an information session to understand the scope and requirements of the program
    2. Attend a summer seminar series in your areas of interest to learn about associated careers, meet industry experts, and learn more about the courses available
    3. Submit an application and statement about why you are taking this course
    4. Accepted participants will then be given instructions on how to access the coursework and introduced to their subject-matter expert coaches

Course cohorts launch the week of August 31, 2020.

2. Who is eligible to participate?
This program is targeted at individuals who are at the high school level or beyond. Younger students will be considered on a case-by-case basis. Anyone who lives or works in Napa County is welcome to apply. 

3. What are the prerequisites?
We recommend that participants have a basic understanding of the Windows environment, access to a Chromebook or more powerful computer, and a good wi-fi connection. The courses will vary, but they are generally structured at a beginning level. Participants should have experience using a variety of applications and have a passion for learning new ones!

4. Do I have to know programming beforehand?
In general, no prior programming experience is required. The one exception is the Python Essentials course, which is offered at an intermediate level and programming experience in any language is recommended.

5. How much does this cost?
The courses are 100% online and free. NapaLearns will provide subject-matter expert coaches who will establish milestones, meet with the student cohort each week, gauge their progress, and help them through each course module. In addition, NapaLearns will arrange and pay for the certification test prep and exams for those participants who want to take the tests.

6. What should I plan on in terms of hours per week?
The amount of time you invest will vary by course. Each subject-matter expert coach will publish a syllabus and calendar to help you plan. However, you should expect to spend a minimum of two hours per week and a maximum of 10 hours/week for the coursework and cohort coaching time.

7. Will you help me find a job?
By participating in the Virtual Career Academy program, you will become part of a network of individuals who have completed these industry-recognized certification courses. Most of the curriculum business partners provide access to their job boards. 

8. How do we communicate with other members in our cohort?
Each subject-matter expert coach will establish a routine for meeting with your cohort on a weekly basis. All communications will take place online and your coach will work with the members of the cohort to find a time that is best for all.

9. Who is monitoring the cohort for progress and safety?
NapaLearns has engaged and vetted subject-matter expert coaches for each of the courses. All are credentialed and you can read their bio’s here. In addition, NapaLearns staff will provide administrative support, monitor the progress of students, and provide an independent third party for students to access as-needed.

10. Who are the instructors and facilitators of the courses?
Participants will have access to highly skilled coaches who have on-the-job as well as teaching experience for the courses.

Meet the Instructors

11. Are there any face-to-face meetings or is it 100% online?
The Virtual Career Academy is designed to be a 100% online program. There are no in-person meetings planned.

12. I don’t live in Napa County. Can I participate in the program?
The program is designed foremost for residents or employees in Napa County. We will consider other participants on a case-by-case basis. 

13. Do I get college credit for completing a course?
Currently, these courses and other industry-recognized classes do not transfer to the UC or CSU systems; they are designed for people to take them independently, in a self-paced way, in order to enhance their careers. However, many industry certifications are recognized by colleges for credit if a student passes the exam. NapaLearns is working with Napa Valley College on a process for course completers to get college credit. There is no high school credit associated with this program.

14. How do I know which course is right for me?
NapaLearns is hosting 90-minute seminars to do a deep dive into each course. Subject-matter expert coaches, course materials and pacing will be reviewed during these sessions. In addition, guest speakers who are industry experts will share their experiences and job trajectories with participants taking the course(s). 

15. What kind of materials / takeaways are provided?
All materials and supplies needed for the course will be provided.

16. Why did you select these courses?
NapaLearns conducted an analysis of the jobs in high demand in the Bay Area, as well as those with good starting salaries. There are other courses that we may add later that fit this criteria, too.

17. How hard are these courses?
These courses are indeed challenging, but if you have determination, grit, and a high interest in the subject area you can do it!

18. Describe the course approach and my responsibilities.
These courses are 100% online: There are high school level reading requirements, videos to review, and projects to complete depending on the course. But be assured, a coach will always be there to guide you.

19. How long are the courses and what are the milestones that I have to reach? Can I drop out at any time?
The time to complete is totally dependent on the course you select and may take 6-to-10 months to complete.  See this matrix on anticipated completion times. Students may drop out at any time; however, we reserve the right to cancel courses with fewer than 5 students. 

20. Will there be other or follow-on courses offered after I complete the first one? What’s next?
Yes! Some certifications take more than one course and we will offer those sequential courses. We are also evaluating other industry-recognized certifications such as those offered for customer relationship management (CRM) and financial accounting.

Exam Questions

21. How long does it take to prepare for an exam? What do you do to help me prepare for an exam?
Preparation for the certification exam will vary by person based on their prior experience and facility with taking online exams. NapaLearns will help by funding two weeks of test prep and the cost of the exam.

22. What are the differences between certificates of completion, badges and certification?
A certificate is awarded for completion of a course, including all assignments and assessments. A badge signifies achieving a certain level of proficiency and they can be “stacked” to work toward a certificate. A certification is awarded following an advanced level industry-recognized examination that follows rigorous coursework and is delivered through a third-party testing service.

23. Do I have to take the exam? Where do I take the exam?
No, it is not a requirement to take a certification exam. Usually, exams are taken in a center and proctored by a third party; however, during these times, examinations have been moved online. Passing an industry-recognized exam opens the door to many well-paying entry level jobs. 

24. What happens if I fail the exam? How many times do I get to pass the exam?
Some testing sites allow the purchase of a voucher that allows for one repeat exam that is valid for one year. NapaLearns will fund these vouchers. 

25. If I’m certified, is that for life or do I need to keep taking exams? How long do certifications last?
Most certifications have to be re-certified over time due to the changing rate of technology. This is something you should plan on doing over the course of your career. 

26. Is there an age requirement to take an exam?
Generally there are no age requirements, but many exams recommend age 13 and above because of the difficulty of the tests.

27. How long is the exam? How hard is the exam?
Exams are very challenging and can take upwards of 90-minutes to complete. Each exam has a minimum pass grade that is different for each course.