Tidewater Community College sees explosive growth


by Regina Mobley


Posted on February 15, 2011 at 7:08 PM

Updated Friday, Feb 25 at 1:11 PM

NORFOLK -- The largest provider of higher education in Hampton Roads is experiencing record growth.
New numbers  from Tidewater Community College show for the Spring 2011 semester, more than 46,000 people are enrolled at TCC.
The numbers represent a 6% increase in enrollment from last  year and a 75% increase in the past decade.  
Dr. Deborah DiCroce has served as college President since 1987.  She says the reputation of the school has evolved as four-year institutions and potential employers have mined high quality students from TCC.
"Our students perform as well as, and in some instances better than the native university student. To me that's the bottom line of it ," says Dr. DiCroce.
The financial bottom line is also a major factor as many Hampton  Roads youth are deciding to stay home for schooling. The cost at TCC is about one third the cost of a four year in-state education.  
TCC freshman Tonia Jamison aspires to work as a registered nurse.  Jamison says she is getting a quality education while offering her parents a financial break. Says Jamison, "I  know what I need to get done, and I have to do it to get where I want to be in life."
This growth follows a perfect storm of sorts that has affected much of the nation. Families looking  to save money, adults looking for new careers, and veterans taking advantage of the GI Bill have created unprecedented growth at a time when states are struggling to fund higher education.  
California for example, may have to turn away 200,000 students in the next year.
While Virginia colleges have been spared draconian cuts, Dr. DiCroce says TCC continues to thrive because it is a lean and mean operation.
"We have made an art of our efficiency and looked to entrepreneurial ways to manage that growth in the midst of these tough financial times, said Dr. DiCroce.  "Granted, a piece of it has been to increase our tuition, but our tuition remains the best bargain in town."
TCC is hoping to win additional funding through a proposal from Governor Bob McDonnell that calls for an  increase the number of college graduates in the Commonwealth by 100,000 over the next five years.
The Virginia Higher Education Opportunity Act is swiftly making its way through the General Assembly, and it could cost up to $100 million.
But Governor McDonnell says for every dollar spent on higher education, the state brings in $13 in revenue.